People, Years and Nations by Velimir Khlebnikov

People, years and nations

run away forever

like a flowing river.

In nature’s supple mirror

we’re the fish,

dark’s ghosts are gods,

and the constellations

knot night’s net.


by Велимир Хлебников (Velimir Khlebnikov)

a.k.a. Виктор Владимирович Хлебников

(Viktor Vladimirovich Khlebnikov)


translated by Robert Chandler


When A Man Dies by Anna Akhmatova

When a man dies

His portraits change.

His eyes look at you

Differently and his lips smile

A different smile. I noticed this

Returning from a poet’s funeral.

Since then I have seen it verified

Often and my theory is true.


– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova), 1940

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

– translation by D. M. Thomas

Retrospect And Forecast by Clark Ashton Smith

Turn round, O Life, and know with eyes aghast

The breast that fed thee – Death, disguiseless, stern:

Even now, within my mouth, from tomb and urn,

The dust is sweet. All nurture that thou hast

Was once as thou, and fed with lips made fast

On Death, whose sateless mouth it fed in turn.

Kingdoms abased, and Thrones that starward yearn,

All are but ghouls that batten on the past.


Monsterous and dread, must it forever abide,

This inescapable alternity?

Must beauty blossom, rooted in decay,

And night devour its flaming hues always?

Sickening, will Life not turn eventually,

Or ravenous Death at last be satisfied?


by Clark Ashton Smith


One Mirror Must Mirror Another by Georgy Ivanov

One mirror must mirror another;

each mirror mismirrors the other.


Not that evil cannot be defeated,

only that we cannot escape defeat;


I believe in the ash left behind by the fire;

not in the music that burned my life.


by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

a.k.a. Georgy Ivanov


translated by Robert Chandler


By The Fireplace by Afanasy Fet

The embers fade. A lucid flame

flickers in the half-light,

like a butterfly’s azure wing

on a scarlet poppy.


A scattering of motley visions

soothes my tired eyes.

Faces I can’t quite distinguish

gaze from the grey ash.


Past happiness and sadness rise –

a friendly, tender pair;

the soul pretends it can get by

without all it held so dear.


by Афанасий Афанасьевич Фет (Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet)


translated by Boris Dralyuk


Бежецк (Bezhetsk) by Anna Akhmatova

There are white churches there, and the crackle of icicles,

The cornflower eyes of my son are blossoming there.

Diamond nights above the ancient town, and yellower

Than lime-blossom honey is the moon’s sickle.

From plains beyond the river dry snow-storms fly in,

And the people, like the angels in the fields, rejoice.

They have tidied the best room, lit in the icon-case

The tiny lamps. On an oak table the Book is lying.

There stern memory, so ungiving now,

Threw open her tower-rooms to me, with a low bow;

But I did not enter, and I slammed the fearful door;

And the town rang with the news of the Child that was born.


– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (26 December 1921)

– from Anno Domini MCMXXI

translation by D. M. Thomas

In December 1921, during visits to her imprisoned son at Slepnyovo, Akhmatova was tormented, while passing by the ancient town of Bezhetsk nearby, with memories of happier times she shared with Gumilev when she would visit this area.



The Last Night by Clark Ashton Smith

I dreamed a dream: I stood upon a height,

A mountain’s utmost eminence of snow.

Beholding ashen plains outflung below

To a far sea-horizon, dim and white.

Beneath the spectral sun’s expiring light

The world lay shrouded in a deathly glow;

Its last fear-laden voice, a wind, came low;

The distant sea lay hushed, as with affright.


I watched, until the pale and flickering sun,

In agony and fierce despair, flamed high,

And shadow-slain, went out upon the gloom.

Then Night, that war of gulf-born Titans won,

Impended for a breath on wings of doom.

And through the air fell like a falling sky.


by Clark Ashton Smith