“And again they’ll order a translation…” by Marina Boroditskaya

And again they’ll order a translation,
and a foreign poet, like an alien spaceman,
space-suit on fire, will enter the atmosphere
and land, as literals, on your writing table.

Get to work then, palms pumping chest,
trying to find life in this strange being,
to start the heart’s rhythm, the lung’s action,
so he can breathe the harsh local air.

This one will probably live, but some die,
and who can you tell later or explain
how the sacred honey congeals in your breast,
refusing to be poured into strange vessels.

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by Мари́на Я́ковлевна Бороди́цкая
(Marina Yakovlevna Boroditskaya)
(c. 2003)
translated by Ruth Fainlight

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Extra information: Marina Boroditskaya was born on June 28, 1954 in Moscow. In 1976 she graduated from the Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages ​​named after Maurice Torez. She worked as a guide-translator and taught in a school. In 1978 she made her debut as a translator in Russia’s Иностранная литература (Foreign Literature) magazine.

Since 1990 she has been a member of the Writers’ Union, and since 2005 she has become a member of the Мастера литературного перевода (Masters of Literary Translation) guild.

Marina Boroditskaya works as a presenter on the radio show Литературная аптека (translated as Literary Pharmacy’, ‘Literary First Aid Box’or ‘Literary Drugstore’ depending on your source) on Радио России (Radio Russia). She is convinced that the book is the best medicine.

New Year by Alan Dickson

The year is ending
As it always ends
Rejoice and forget your sins;
The rain is falling
As it always falls,
And the sea comes rolling in.

The sun is rising
As it always rises.
Unfold the new year plan;
The wind is blowing
As it always blows
Fresh hope from man to man.

by Alan Dickson

(1992)

Сосны (Pine Trees) by Boris Pasternak

In grass, among wild balsam,
Dog-dasies and lilies, we lie,
Our arms thrown back behind us,
Our faces turned to the sky.

The grass in the pine-wood ride
Is impenetrably thick.
We look at each other and shift
A shoulder-blade or a cheek.

And there, for a time immortal,
We are numbered among the trees
And liberated from aches,
Disease, and the last disease.

With deliberate monotony,
Like blue oil from green eaves,
The sky pours down on the ground,
Dappling and staining our sleeves.

We share the repose of the pines
To the ant’s accompaniment,
Inhaling the soporific
Incense-and-lemon scent.

So fiercely the fiery trunks
Leap up against the blue,
And under our resting heads
So long our hands rest too,

So broad our field of vision,
So docile all things on all sides,
That somewhere beyond the trunks
I imagine the surge of tides.

There waves are higher than branches,
And collapsing against the shore
They hurl down a hail of shrimps
From the ocean’s turbulent floor.

And at evening, the sunset floats
On corks behind a trawler
And, shimmering with fish oil
And amber mist, grows smaller.

Twilight descends and slowly
The moon hides all trace of day
Beneath the black magic of water,
Beneath the white magic of spray.

And waves grow louder and higher
And the crowd at the floating café
Surrounds the pillar whose poster
Is a blur from far away.

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by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к

(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)

from On Early Trains

(1941)

translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France

A recital of the poem in Russian. Read by E. Pasternak

Beneath is the original Russian version of the poem written in Cyrillic.

Сосны

В траве, меж диких бальзаминов,
Ромашек и лесных купав,
Лежим мы, руки запрокинув
И к небу головы задрав.

Трава на просеке сосновой
Непроходима и густа.
Мы переглянемся и снова
Меняем позы и места.

И вот, бессмертные на время,
Мы к лику сосен причтены
И от болезней, эпидемий
И смерти освобождены.

С намеренным однообразьем,
Как мазь, густая синева
Ложится зайчиками наземь
И пачкает нам рукава.

Мы делим отдых краснолесья,
Под копошенье мураша
Сосновою снотворной смесью
Лимона с ладаном дыша.

И так неистовы на синем
Разбеги огненных стволов,
И мы так долго рук не вынем
Из-под заломленных голов,

И столько широты во взоре,
И так покорны все извне,
Что где-то за стволами море
Мерещится все время мне.

Там волны выше этих веток
И, сваливаясь с валуна,
Обрушивают град креветок
Со взбаламученного дна.

А вечерами за буксиром
На пробках тянется заря
И отливает рыбьим жиром
И мглистой дымкой янтаря.

Смеркается, и постепенно
Луна хоронит все следы
Под белой магией пены
И черной магией воды.

А волны все шумней и выше,
И публика на поплавке
Толпится у столба с афишей,
Неразличимой вдалеке.

A Winter Visit by Dannie Abse

Now she’s ninety I walk through the local park
where, too cold, the usual peacocks do not screech
and neighbouring lights come on before it’s dark.

Dare I affirm to her, so agèd and so frail,
that from one pale dot of peacock’s sperm
spring forth all the colours of a peacock’s tail?

I do. But she like the sibyl says, ‘I would die’;
then complains. ‘This winter I’m half dead, son.’
And because it’s true I want to cry.

Yet must not (although only Nothing keeps)
for I inhabit a white coat not a black
even here – and am not qualified to weep.

So I speak of small approximate things,
of how I saw, in the park, four flamingoes
standing, one-legged on ice, heads beneath wings.

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By Dannie Abse
from Welsh Retrospective

(1997)

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Interesting fact: Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff, Wales, to a Jewish family. He was the younger brother of politician and reformer Leo Abse and the eminent psychoanalyst, Wilfred Abse. Unusually for a middle-class Jewish boy, Dannie Abse attended St Illtyd’s College, a working-class Catholic school in Splott.

Книга жалоб – в каждом магазине… (Every Store…) by Yevgeny Vinokurov

Every store keeps a book for complaints
And, if you ask for it, they have to give it to you!
It wouldn’t be a bad idea, I think,
If eternity had a book like that.
Then people wouldn’t have to keep silent about their sorrow.
…Timidly, cautious at first, they would all come, bringing
The griefs they endure, the wrongs they are made to suffer
To universal attention and judgement.
How we should then be struck, I know,
By one entry of half a line
written
By that woman who, slumped against its railings,
Was crying in the park last night…

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by Евгений Михайлович Винокуров (Yevgeny Mikhailovich Vinokurov)
(1961)
Translated by Albert C. Todd

Additional information: He served in the artillery during the Second World War, studied at the Gorky Literary Institute and published his first poems in 1948. As co-editor of the poetry section of the journal Октябрь (October) he published Boris Slutsky, Nikolai Zabolotsky and the young Bella Akhmadulina amongst many others.

Beneath is the original Russian version of the poem in Cyrillic.

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Книга жалоб – в каждом магазине…

Книга жалоб – в каждом магазине,
Требуйте её, – должны подать!..

Предлагаю вечности: отныне
Завести подобную тетрадь,

Чтоб о боли люди не молчали,
И тогда-то на вселенский суд
Все свои обиды и печали
Люди осторожно понесут…

Как тогда б, я знаю, поразила
Надпись в полстроки из-под пера
Женщины, что павши на перила,
Ночью в парке плакала вчера.

1961