I heard this story several years ago. I've no idea how many chains of transmission it went through before it reached me. I've no idea its accuracy. It seems like it can't be "true." But I like it nonetheless.
|Crap. I ended another line in "orange."
A 19th century Russian mother does not want to find her child pursuing art. This is a terrible thing. Russia is a hard, unmerciful land, and those without good jobs can literally freeze to death--or even worse, have to go a weekend without vodka. Art for art's sake is a concept alien to those who struggle to put a few mouthfuls of hot food into their bellies, and Bohemians quickly adjust their priorities when autumn's air first snaps. So when Nadja found her darling ten-year-old boy writing poetry, she was furious. This was not proper behavior for a little man.
She told him to stop writing poetry. He refused.
She took his paper, later when he wrote on the walls and floor of his room, she took his writing implements. The boy took to memorizing poems in his head and smuggled pens and pencils into his bedroom. She forbid him to compose any more poems. He screamed and shouted. He cried. He refused to stop. He said this was his passion, and that he didn't care about a proper job. He would never work an office or a mine, but would instead be a poet.
Well, Nadja was having none of this nonsense, of course, but she was still the young boy's mother, and his pain and suffering was her pain and suffering. She could not callously watch his heart breaking. (This was something she reserved for his deadbeat father.) His tears and howling had put the tiniest of cracks into her resolve, and so, the next day, she marched the young boy to the local university to discuss the matter with the professor of literature there, who was himself a poet of no small repute.
She gathered up his sheafs of paper with his scribbled poetry from around the house, and the two of them set off early.
"Does he have talent?" she asked, thrusting the young boy's poetry towards the professor. "He wants to be a poet, of all things. A poet! I will not abide this nonsense unless he has great talent. He must be able to to feed himself and put a roof over his head. So unless he has considerable talent, I am going to call a stop to all this nonsense."
The professor gingerly accepted the poems, and put on his reading glasses to look them over. Of course they were terrible. The young boy was only ten, and was barely able to read, much less write. They had small ideas and terrible execution. They showed no aptitude or ability whatsoever. If anything, the young boy was far behind peers of his age when it came to writing ability. But the professor wasn't really looking at the poetry.
He was watching the young boy.
The boy stood rigid next to his mother, chin trembling, with fists clenched at his sides so tightly they turned purple.
The professor thumbed through a few of the poems and handed them back to the mother. "He has a remarkable talent, ma'am. You should allow him to continue."
And so young Alexander Pushkin was permitted to go on writing poetry.