by Don  

The Russian word for a verse in a poem is стих, but it gets a lot more use in Russian than in English. First we'll look at its forms, and then we'll discuss why it is used so much in Russia. It is an end-stressed noun, which means whenever you add a grammatical ending to it, the first syllable of the grammatical ending gets the stress.


The word can mean either a verse in a poem or a verse in the Bible:

Каждый русский знает наизусть первые стихи «Евгения Онегина». Every Russian knows the first verses of Eugene Onegin by heart.
Каждый серьёзный христианин знает наизусть шестнадцатый стих третьей главы Евангелия от Иоанна. Every serious Christian knows John 3:16 by heart.

The word стих doubles as meaning a poem, so a parent might a Russian schoolchild to recite a poem like this:

Олечка, расскаже мне стих. Olga, recite a poem for me.

Every American child knows the poem/riddle “Humpty-Dumpty,” and every Russian child knows this poem (which is also sung as a New Year's song):

В лесу родилась ёлочка
В лесу она росла
Зимой и летом стройная
Зелёная была
A fir tree was born in the forest
In the forest it grew
In the summer and the winter
It was shapely and green

The plural стихи is used to mean poetry in general:

— Ты любишь стихи?
— Да, очень.
“Do you like poetry?”
“Yes, quite a bit.”
Когда я жил в Сиэттле и мне было очень грустно, я исписывал сотни страниц грустными стихами, пока грусть не прошла. Я убежден, что само писание стихов вылечило мою депрессию. I was really sad when I lived in Seattle, and I covered hundreds of pages with gloomy poetry until the sadness went away. I'm convinced that the very act of writing the poetry cured my depression.
— Какие стихи ты любишь?
— Я никаких стихов не знаю.
— Ах, да, я забыла, что у тебя американское образование.
“What poetry do you like?”
“I don't know any poems.”
“Oh, that's right. I had forgotten that you have an American education.”
Стихи могут довести меня до слёз, особенно «Реквием» Ахматовой. Poetry can bring me to tears, especially Akhmatova's “Requiem.”

* Notice the atypical stress. Normally it should be родилась.


Comment from: Karina [Visitor]

You gave a wrong example, it would be correct to say Каждый русский знает первые СТРОКИ из “Евгения Онегина".сф

04/15/12 @ 03:31
Comment from: kk [Visitor]

You are always choose nice words. I like your translations. Good Job!!!
Keep going!!! Good Luck!!!

02/10/11 @ 18:38

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