Somebody asked me to find easy poems to learn Russian language. So, I’ll be writing about children’s authors from time to time. I mean those authors whose poems are very easy to read. This is why I am happy to introduce to you a Soviet ballerina, who wanted to dance in the Bolshoi Theatre and write poems about revolution and love, but…
…everything was changed when the Minister for Education of USSR, Anatoly Lunacharsky heard her poem at a graduation ceremony from the ballet school. He listened to her and said that this girl should be a professional children’s poet.
Her name was Agniya Barto, and she became the most famous Soviet children’s author. Her first book was published in 1925. Her poetry is good even for children at the age of 1,5 – 2 years old.
Here you see Agniya and her husband Pavel Barto, a Russian-Italian engineer.
They had 2 children – Tanya and Garik. Garik was fatally hit by a car at the age of 15. It was on the eve of the happiest day for millions – Victory Day, 9 May. (This day marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War also known as the Great Patriotic War). When Agniya reached the ability to speak and sleep, she began to write even more than before. She met with children who lost their parent in this war. Barto published their memories about families, relatives, childhood. It helped lots of people to find their relatives.
Was it easy for her to speak with lost children? What did she think? How did she write her funny and easy poems? It seems every professional ballerina has an iron will and a mighty power of self-discipline.
Here is a very interesting and detailed article in Russian language about her life, her family and character.
I found an English article in Wikipedia, but it is too short and formal.
She also wrote scripts and essays. Here you can find more her texts in Russian. Be sure, 80 % of them are really “Russian poetry for beginners”.
I made a .pdf document, where you will find 8 Russian poems of Agniya Barto with professional translate made by I. Zeleznova and D. Ruttenberg. Be free to download them here – 8 poems for kids by A. Barto. Stress marks are provided.
Take a look at the first poem, for example.
Лошадка – My horse
Я люблю свою лошадку,
Причешу ей шёрстку гладко,
Гребешком приглажу хвостик
И верхом поеду в гости.
How I love my little horse!
I shall brush him well, of course,
I shall comb his tail and mane,
And go riding out again.
I recorded this audio for fun:
This is a word-to-word translate with some explanations. As a true grammar maniac, I could not ignore such a wonderful text. :)
Я – I
Люблю = a verb любить / to love in the Present, imperfective, 1 personal, singular.
Свою = my / mine. A possessive pronoun своя in the Accusative case. You also can say “мою лошадку”. I don’t see a problem.
Лошадку = a noun лошадка, a diminutive form of лошадь (a horse). This is a small horse in the Accusative case. The лошадка is a object of an action. (I mean, “to love” –> “лошадку“) .
Причешу = a verb причесать / to make hair, to brush. Perfective, future, 1 personal, singular. The hero of the poem shows us his / her intentions.
Ей = her. The English text means that this is a male horse. Russian лошадка is a female noun.
Хвостик = a noun; this is a diminutive form of the хвост / tale. Хвостик in the Accusative case, because it is too an object of the action. Причешу —> хвостик.
Гладко = an adverb smoothly.
Гребешком = a noun гребешок / a comb, crest in the Instrumental case. Гребешок is a diminutive form of the гребень.
Приглажу = a verb пригладить. Future, perfective, 1 personal, singuar. It is not only “I shal comb…” The meaning is very close to the sentence “A good groom will rather stroke than strike. — Хороший конюх скорее приласкает, чем ударит”. So, пригладить means a very careful and soft emotion.
И = and
Верхом = an adverb. To sit astride a chair / on horseback — сидеть верхом на стуле / на лошади.
Поеду = a verb поехать in the Future, perfective, 1 personal, singuar. There a lots of words and terms for поехать: to drive, to go, to ride…
В гости = an adverb looking like “a preposition” + “a noun in the plural form). “to + guests”. It means to visit somebody. To learn more about adverbs click this link. It is a very good Russian e-tutorial.
If you wish to play with Russian language more, take a look here. This is an adorable cartoon with English subtitles.
There Once Was a Dog / Жил был пёс.