In Memory of V. C. Sreznevskaya by Anna Akhmatova

Impossible almost, for you were always here:

In the shade of blessed limes, in hospitals and bockades,

In the prison-cell, and where there were evil birds,

Lush grasses, and terrifying water.

How everything has changed, but you were always here,

And it seems to me that I have lost half my soul,

The half you were – in which I knew the reason why

Something important happened. Now I’ve forgotten…

But your clear voice is calling and it asks me not

To grieve, but wait for death as for a miracle.

What can I do! I’ll try.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

-written at Komarovo, St Petersburg on 9 September 1964

– from Седьмая книга (‘The Seventh Book’)

-translation by D. M. Thomas

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September Rose by Afansy Fet

Her flushed lips parting tenderly

as she breathes in the morning frost,

how strangely this rose smiles

as the September day hurries past.

 

While blue tits flutter around branches

from which every leaf has now slipped,

how queenlike this rose now appears

with spring’s glow on her lips.

 

How boldly she clings to her hope

that, flying from this cold flower-bed,

she will be the last, intoxicated rose

to cling to the young mistresses’ breast.

 

by Афанасий Афанасьевич Фет (Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet)

a.k.a. Шеншин (Shenshin)

(1890)

translated by Robert Chandler

Old Women Falling Out by Daniil Kharms

Excessive curiosity made one old woman fall out of a window, plummet to the ground and break into pieces.

Another old woman poked her head out of a window to look at the one who had broken into pieces, but excessive curiosity made her too fall out of the window, plummet to the ground and break into pieces.

Then a third old woman fell out of a window, then a fourth, then a fifth.

When a sixth old woman fell out, I felt I’d had enough of watching them and went off to the Maltsev Market where I heard that a blind man had been given a knitted shawl.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Ivánovich Kharms)

(1937)

translated by Robert Chandler

Here’s The Rain Crashing Down by Daniil Kharms

Here’s the rain crashing down,

time has stopped.

The clocks go on helplessly knocking.

Grow, grass, you don’t need time.

Speak, Holy Spirit, you don’t need words.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Kharms)

(1937)

translated by Robert Chandler

This Is How Hunger Begins by Daniil Kharms

This is how hunger begins:

first you wake in good cheer,

then weakness begins,

and then boredom,

and then comes the losss

of the power of swift reason

and then comes calm –

and then the horror.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Kharms)

(1937)

translated by Robert Chandler

My Talent Is Pitiful, My Voice Not Loud by Yevgeny Baratynsky

My talent is pitiful, my voice not loud,

but I am living; somewhere in the world

someone looks kindly on my life; far off

a distant fellow-man will read my words

and find my being; and, who knows, my soul

will raise an echo in his soul, and I

who found a friend in my own time,

will find a reader in posterity.

 

by Евгений Абрамович Баратынский (Yevgeny Abramovich Baratynsky)

(1828)

translated by Peter France

They’ve Cut A Hole In The Deep by Sofia Parnok

They’ve cut a hole in the deep

dence blue of the ice:

a breathing space for big fish and little,

water for bringers of buckets,

a way out for a weary traveller

if she and life turn out after all

to be travelling different roads

and she has nowhere to go.

 

by София Яковлевна Парнок (Sophia Yakovlena Parnok) (1931)

translated by Robert Chandler