I have a multiple question on the following verses:

Дружба

Что дружба? Лeгкий пыл похмелья,
Обиды вольный разговор,
Обмен тщеславия, безделья
Иль покровительства позор.

А. С. Пушкин

Is this translation faithful?

What's friendship? The hangover's faction,
The gratis talk of outrage,
Exchange by vanity, inaction
Or bitter shame of patronage. (Source of the translation)

To be more specific,

  • I found no traces of легкий (slight) there.

  • Is the word похмелья really meaning hangover (like that the day after drinking)?

  • I find like the noun in genitive before the noun in nominative. Is the meaning of the second line the same as the inverted order, i.e. вольный разговор oбиды?
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I found no traces of легкий (slight) there.

Yes, apparently it was omitted for the rhyme. It should be "slight hangover's faction" meaning apparently slight conflict between the friends the day after drinking.

Is the word похмелья really meaning hangover (like that the day after drinking)?

Yes.

I find like the noun in genitive before the noun in nominative. Is the meaning of the second line the same as the inverted order, i.e. вольный разговор oбиды?

Yes.

But the literal translation should be "the wild talk of resentment".

  • Thus gratis is in that translation I found wrong, isn't it? – c.p. Mar 20 '15 at 7:12
  • 1
    @c.p. yes, it is wrong – Anixx Mar 20 '15 at 8:50
  • 2
    @c.p. Here the word 'вольный' (which usually means 'free') used in the sense of 'unrestrained'. But translating it as 'gratis' is a mistake, I'm sure. – Matt Mar 20 '15 at 9:33
  • I give -1 for this answer because похмелье does not mean hangover in this poem, see the georg's answer. – user31264 Mar 28 '15 at 6:31

Is the word похмелья really meaning hangover (like that the day after drinking)?

That's the modern meaning. In Pushkin's times it was rather "drinking, drunkenness", e.g.

  • Когда для шумного похмелья // Вы соберетесь в праздный час (Боратынский, 1820)

  • А ты, вино, осенней стужи друг, // Пролей мне в грудь отрадное похмелье (Пушкин, 1825).

"Лeгкий пыл похмелья" simply means "being slightly drunk".

I find like the noun in genitive before the noun in nominative. Is the meaning of the second line the same as the inverted order, i.e. вольный разговор oбиды?

Yes, this is correct. It's customary in poetic speech to move the genitive object forward, e.g. "Европы баловень Орфей". "вольный" means "open, frank" in this context (guessing here, the whole piece is not clear at all).

  • I don't seem that "обиды вольный разговор" is somewhat unclear. The author refers to "unrestrained, unthinking and insulting talks" while being "slightly drunk". – Matt Mar 24 '15 at 6:19

I think user4419802 gave the best translation.

"пыл" - heat/fire;
"легкий" - light/slight;
"похмелья" - being drunk/tipsy (older style), or hangover;
example: "C похмелья" - after drinking.
(I don't think he would use "heat" and "hangover" in the same sentence)

"Обиды" - "grievances" (i think the closest)
"вольный" - free of constrains (could imply rude, but not in this context)

Interlinear translation:

What is friendship? A slight fire of the carousal,
The insult's unrestrained talk,
An interchange of vanity and idleness,
Or favour's stain.

  • insult is оскорбление, not обида. – Anixx Mar 25 '15 at 5:50
  • @Anixx Poetic language is quite flexible. No much difference here, I believe. – Matt Mar 25 '15 at 6:03
  1. Лёгкий = slight. Was omitted in translation

  2. Yes

  3. Yes

P.s. that Pushkin dude is known for changing normal words sequence in order to rhythm his poems :-)

People don't talk like that

  • "Changing words' sequence" is called "инверсия" (inversion). It's widely used literary device. – Matt Mar 24 '15 at 7:41

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