The Jolt by Anna Prismanova

The jolt must come from far away:

the start of bread is in the grain.

A stream, although still underground,

aspires to reflect the sky.


A future Sunday’s distant light

reaches us early in the week.

The jolt must come from far away

to trigger earthquakes in the heart.


A shoulder alien to me

controls the movement of my hand.

In order to acquire such strength,

the jolt must come from far away.


by Анна Семёновна Присманова (Anna Semyonovna Prismanova)

a.k.a. Анна Симоновна Присман (Anna Simonovna Prisman)

(late 1930s or early 1940s)

translated by Boris Dralyuk


Fun fact: She is considered comparable to her contemporary, the American poet, Louise Bogan.


High Flight (An Airman’s Ecstacy) by John Gillespie Magee Jr

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of; wheeled and sored and swung

High in the sun-lit silence. Hovering there

I’ve chased the shouting wing along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air;

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,

Where never lark nor even eagle flew;

And while, with silent lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


by John Gillespie Magee Jr (1922-1941)

Remember by Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Remember me when no more day by day

You tell me of our future that you planned:

Only remember me; you understand

It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while

And afterwards remember, do not grieve:

For if the darkness and corruption leave

A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,

Better by far you should forget and smile

Than that you should remember and be sad.


by Christina Rossetti (1830 – 1894)


Fun facts: She wrote the words of the Christmas carols “In the Bleak Midwinter”, set to a tune by Gustav Holst, and “Love Came Down at Christmas”. Also if you’re thinking ‘is she related to THE Rossetti?’ The answer is very likely yes. The family had a lot of connections and successful members.

The title of J.K. Rowling’s novel The Cuckoo’s Calling is based on a line in Rossetti’s poem A Dirge.

To Her by Vasily Zhukovsky

Where’s there a name for you?

No mortal’s art has the power

to express your charm.


Nor are there lyres for you!

Songs? Not to be trusted –

the echo of a belated rumour.


If they had ears for the heart,

every one of my senses

would be a hymn to you.


I carry your life’s charm,

this pure, holy image,

like a mystery in my heart.


All I can do is love;

only eternity can speak

the love you inspire.


by Василий Андреевич Жуковский (Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky)


translated by Robert Chandler


Fun fact: Ivan Bunin, the Nobel Prize winning Russian emigre author, is related to him.

Moithered by Mike Jenkins

She used it totally out of place

but natural as calling an infant ‘Babes!’

The poet’s moithered by all that pollution

like herself annoyed at my constant questions.


The word was her, chewing-gum twirler

giving so much lip and jip,

a desk-scribbler stirrer

using her tongue as a whip.


It was perfect for flustered:

I could imagine the artist

as all the complex phrases whirred

and churned, his hair in a twist.


No examiner could possibly weight it,

no educationalist glue and frame it:

it leapt out like her laughter

and my red mark was the real error.


by Mike Jenkins

from Red Landscapes

Муза (Muse) by Anna Akhmatova

I feel my life hang by a hair

as I wait at night for the Muse;

youth, freedom, fame melt into air

as my guest appears with her flute.


She enters, tosses back her shawl;

her half-closed eyes let nothing pass.

‘So it was you who sang of Hell

to Dante?’ ‘Yes,’ she says, ‘it was.’


by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)


from Тростник (Reed) / Из шести книг (From the Sixth Book) era

translation by Robert Chandler

Fun Fact: The exact muse from Greek mythology referred to here is Euterpe who in late Classical times was named muse of lyric poetry and was often depicted holding a flute. The Dante referred to here is of course Dante Alighieri and his epic poem the Divine Comedy, in particular the Inferno section. Calliope was usually considered the muse of epic poetry but of course Akhmatova herself wrote lyric poetry thus explaining why she, to her surprise, encounters Euterpe and not Calliope.

Fragment (Before Death I Have Felt The Dark Of Death) by Wilhelm Küchelbecker

Before death I have felt the dark of death;

I thought: like Ossian I shall lose my way

in mist by the grave’s edge and blindly stare

from wild moors down through the dim precipice

of dawnless night and see no trees, no fields

of freedom, no soft grass, no azure skies,

and no sun rising like a miracle.

Yet with the soul’s eye I shall see you, shades

of prophets, friends too soon flown out of sight,

and I shall hear the blessed poet’s song

and know each voice and recognize each face.


by Вильгельм Карлович Кюхельбекер (Wilhelm Karlovich Küchelbecker)


translated by Peter France


Fun fact: This was written after he went blind about a year before his death.