With the melting of the snow, the countryside blossoms into spring. Nevertheless, Pushkin is only reminded of what has been lost, and what cannot be born again as in nature. He focuses on Onegin's house, now deserted by its master, and the moves to Lensky's grave, where Olga and Tatyana lay a wreath in mourning.
However, not long after her fiancé's death, Olga marries a cavalryman and then leaves home to accompany him. Left alone without her sister, Tatyana is saddened, and while dwelling even more upon Onegin she wanders at night upon Onegin's house. Spurred by a sudden curiosity, she asks to see where her loved one once lived and looks through his books in an attempt to better understand him. Looking through the modern novels that Onegin once read and rapt with attention for his marginalia, Tatyana wonders whether this alienated and tormented man is just an empty husk of a character.
Back at her house, Tatyana is distressed to hear of her mother's plans to spend the winter in Moscow to finally find Tatyana a husband. As the seasons swiftly pass, Tatyana takes long walks to spend more time with her beloved nature, but when the snows return she is off to the famous and lively city.
The Larins stay with an aunt and bring Tatyana to one social event after another; longing for her familiar life of nature and books, Tatyana is uncomfortable whether surrounded by gossiping girls at a family gathering or faced with the dizzying energy of a ball. As a general shows interest in her while she stands back from the dancing, the chapter draws to a close.
The richly detailed portrayal of the coming of spring with which Pushkin begins the chapter can be grouped together with the many other seasonal depictions that the author makes throughout the novel, but this particular case contains an unusual amount of thematic significance. It continues Pushkin's eulogy to his youth that he sings at the end of the previous chapter, but unexpectedly so. The first stanza presents a conventionally warm, colorful, and bright image of nature's reawakening, but Pushkin subverts the implied happiness with mournful nostalgia.
"How sad I find your apparition,/ O spring!...O time of love's unrest!" appears suddenly, without any preparation (VII.2). Pushkin explains that although these remembrances of past love "stir my heart and fill my breast," which seems to have been what he asked of his youth in the previous chapter, it is futile and painful, for his own "heart has long been dead" (VII.2).
In this respect, Pushkin relates very closely to Onegin, who expresses similar sentiments in response to Tatyana stirring up long-forgotten love within him. Onegin sees the cold rationalistic repudiation of Tatyana's love as the only possible outcome in this tortured situation. On the other hand Pushkin, after finding yet another cause for sorrow in the renewal of leaves which reminds him of the un-renewability of his youth, turns to consider that: "Perhaps in thought we reassemble, /Within a dream to which we cling" (VII.3). This process of reassembling in thought is poetry, that element which Pushkin stresses time and time again as a distinguishing detail between him and Onegin. In the two stanzas that immediately follow, Pushkin shows that he has regained his energy and, in his characteristic way, exercises that energy by setting out on lively carriage rides (as Onegin did in the beginning).
The carriage, guided by the author's hand, moves from the city into the countryside and then to the shaded nook of Lensky's grave, a seamless transition. Of course, a line from the tombstone reads,"He died too soon..." a topic which Pushkin had spent many words on in the last chapter (VII.6). It is interesting to compare Lensky's grave to the grave of Tatyana's and Olga's father, where Lensky had once penned funerary verses and mourned not only for his future father-in-law but also for his own deceased parents (II.36-38). The inscriptions on both Lensky's and Larin's graves are simple, but Lensky's is unique in its inclusion of lines of mourning. Additionally, the tragic irony is that although by Lensky's side at Larin's grave Pushkin acknowledges the procession of generations - the new generation that "crowds its forebears towards the grave" - Lensky himself is killed early and unnaturally (II.38).
Olga's abbreviated period of mourning for her fiancé and subsequent marriage to a lancer are presented as unfortunate ("My poor, poor Lensky!") but not condemnatory, because as the reader already knows from Onegin's and Pushkin's comments, Olga is a simple-hearted and shallow girl (VII.10).
As most unfortunate events do, the departure of Olga makes Tatyana more melancholy and pensive, leading to her moonlight wandering to Onegin's now empty estate. In that place filled with symbols of Onegin's absence (e.g., pool cue and riding crop), Tatyana finally finds the opportunity to probe into the enigmatic mind of her love. The portrait of Lord Byron and the bust of Napoleon both accord with the descriptions Pushkin has given of Onegin throughout the work. When she returns the next day to look through his books - as much a window into his soul, his "world" as she could find, being a reader herself - she finds books by Byron (VII.21).
Reading what he had once read and paying special attention to his marginalia, even "the traces /Where fingernails had sharply pressed," Tatyana "starts to understand" both why she has fallen in love with Onegin and what kind of man Onegin is (VII.23, 24). Echoing her letter to Onegin, in which she wondered whether he was her "angel" or "demon," she discovers that he is indeed both: "That angel...and proud fiend as well" (VII.24).
She ends by wondering whether Onegin is simply an "imitation," "empty phantom," "a Muscovite in Harold's cloak" (Child Harold, Byronic hero), and finally "mere parody" (VII.24). The reference to Harold and parody show Tatyana taking on the kind of meta-literary thinking which Pushkin has so often employed throughout the novel. By reading closely and emotionally investing herself in the works as much as Onegin did, Tatyana is able to solve the riddle of Onegin.
While at the Grand Assembly in Moscow, Tatyana in her rustic, honest beauty, makes an outstanding impression, one which will become even more solidified in the following chapter after her marriage; Pushkin's Muse, whom Pushkin brings to the very ball where Tatyana arrives, is a very similar girl from the countryside, pointing finally to the conflation of the two women Pushkin praised using his own narrator's voice since the beginning of the novel. The specific imagery Pushkin uses to describe Tatyana's superior beauty consummates the repeated use of the moon as a symbol associated with her: against the starry sky of the society women, Tatyana, "the regal moon shines brighter" (VII.52).