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Boris Pasternak

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak

“Marburg” (1917)

“I quivered. I flared up, and then was extinguished.
I shook. I had made a proposal – but late,
Too late. I was scared, and she had refused me.
I pity her tears, am more blessed than a saint.”

Pasternak fell in love with Ida Wissotzkaya, a girl from a notable Moscow family of tea merchants, whose company Wissotzky Tea was the largest tea company in the world. Pasternak had tutored her in the final class of high school. He helped her prepare for finals. They met in Marburg during the summer of 1912 when Boris’ father, Leonid Pasternak, painted her portrait. He proposed to Ida around the year World War I began. However, her family felt that his status would not match theirs and hence Ida turned him down. This poem depicts the strong emotions Boris felt after rejection.

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