Photograph: Edward Clark (1955)
It was with a strange squeezing of the heart
that I disembarked one cold and misty morning on the English Embankment in St Petersburg and saw for the first time these ponderous stone masses that are always wrapped in misty haze and dampness, and this low sky, grey and dirty, which hangs lazily the whole year round over Northern Palmyra. The impression I received then did not change with time: I have never managed to love this magnificent and gloomy capital in which manís efforts, money, industry, and art battle in vain with the revolting climate and the underlying bog land, and whose cold beauty, devoid of grace and poetry, is a kind of symbol of despotism.
Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev, poet (1803-1873)