Raskolnikov — Part 1: Chapter 1, Stanzas 5 and 5(b) 6

Piranesi, le Carceri d'Invenzione, Plate XIV

Two stanzas this time — but I think 1.5(b) is probably superfluous, hence the ‘(b)’.


A languid month he’d lain — and waited —
Withdrawn into his attic room,
Had let that thought gestate — debated:
‘Shall I uproot that seed of doom?…
Why bother? It’s a plaything! Foolish!…
Starvation’s made my thinking ghoulish
And added to my stomach-pains
The morbid games of addled brains…’
Yet as he viewed with deep derision
Those radical dark reveries
He’d once indulged, his fantasies…
His impotence and indecision —
He’d feel anew the desperate need
To do some — no… to do that deed.

1.5(b) 1.1.6

But even now, the town surrounds him
With spying windows, statues, eyes.
Some thing – within? without him? – hounds him.
How compromised is his disguise?
He’s overdone with endless stewing —
Excessive thought, deficient doing:
Is he the gloomy dithering Dane,
Or Cawdor’s gory-handed thane?
… On third thought — fourth? — far better fearful
And yet uncaught than overbold.
(Siberia is very cold.)
So: ‘Step by step. Stay calm. Look cheerful.’
Rodya, resolved, regains the street;
The cobbles flash beneath his feet!


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    For the most part, the Raskolnikov poem will track the text of Crime and Punishment closely; and as a general rule, its changes to Dostoevsky’s narrative will be omissions, not additions. Stanza 1.5(b) doesn’t really correspond to any sentences of the original novel — it’s just a little riff on what Dostoevsky tells us of Raskolnikov’s thoughts. Maybe 1.5(b) could be a footnote to Stanza 1.5?

    • You should keep it – Eugene Onegin has 60 sonnets in the first chapter alone-

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

        Fair enough, Tom, and thanks!

        On the other hand, Pushkin gave Onegin quite a few foot- or end-notes, too, though none of them were in verse…. But enough. From this moment, the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand. The stanza stays.

        For now, anyway.

        Thanks again for the feedback!

  2. Matthew Lickona says

    A footnote! With references to both Hamlet and Macbeth! And thematic borrowings from Sherlock Holmes’ The Norwood Builder! Swoon.

  3. Jonathan Potter says

    1.5(b) might be my favorite stanza so far for sheer fun, even aside from my psychic presentiment of the Hamlet reference which tips the scale in my own mind. I’d leave it in. Maybe even call it 1.6.

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