Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день! (What A Sweet Little Day…) by Yury Odarchenko

What a sweet little day, what a day!
All day long such rubbish.
In my soul and at the market and in the church
And in romantic verses,
In the drabbest hut, in a palace…
And no period at the end…
What a sweet little day, what a day!
Foggy day. And a shadow of the abyss
In my soul, at the market, in church,
And in dramatic poetry.
And if the sun comes up,
And leads death by the hand,
Then it’ll be the same –
It’s both cramped and dark in a coffin.

by Юрий Павлович Одарченко
(Yury Pavlovich Odarchenko)
translated by Nina Kossman

Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день!…

Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день!
Весь день такая дребедень:
В душе, на ярмарке, в церквах
И в романтических стихах,
В последней хате, во дворце…
И точки нету на конце…
Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день!
Туманный день. И бездны тень
В душе, на ярмарке, в церквах
И в драматических стихах.
А если солнышко взойдет
И смерть под ручку приведет,
То это будет все равно —
В гробу и тесно и темно

Additional information: The Russian language Wikipedia entry about him. A PDF of a collection of some of his poetry and prose in Russian. This poem is on page 54 of the PDF.

Odarchenko was born in the Ukraine and little of his life is known until he emigrated. He lived in emigration in Paris, where he owned a boutique selling silk dresses that he hand-painted. He lived outside the Paris émigré literary world, though in the 1930s he became a close friend of Vladimir Smolensky and in 1947 published an almanac with the participation of Ivan Bunin, Gregory Ivanov, Aleksei Remizov, Boris Zaitsev, and others. His poetry began to appear seperately in journals in 1948 and he managed to publish a single slim volume of collected verse, Deniok (Little Day), in 1949.

His underappreciated poetry was highly professional, reaching the level of Ivanov, one of the finest poets of emigration. Odarchenko and Ivanov share the capacity to write not by lines but by stanzas; in their poetry a quatrain seems not made of collected parts but cast as a single piece. Odarchenko’s verse can be at once bother solidly dense and light-bodied. He chose to take his own life.

Biographical information about Odarchenko, p.453, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Отцу (To Father…) by Yury Kuznetsov

What can I say at your grave?
That you had no right to die?

You have left us alone in the world.
Look at mother – she is nothing but a scar.
A wound like this can see even the wind!
Father, these scars will never fade.

On a widow’s bed a memory grieves her,
She begged you to give her children.

Like flashes in distant storm clouds,
She gave the world fleeting spirits –
Sisters and brothers grew up in her mind…
Whom can I tell this to?

It’s not for me to ask my fate at your grave,
What have I got to wait for? …
Year after year will pass.
“Father,” I cry. “You didn’t bring us
Mother quiets me in fear…

by Юрий Поликарпович Кузнецов
(Yury Polikarpovich Kuznetsov)
translated by Sarah W. Bliumis


Что на могиле мне твоей сказать?
Что не имел ты права умирать?
Оставил нас одних на целом свете.
Взгляни на мать — она сплошной рубец.
Такая рана видит даже ветер!
На эту боль нет старости, отец.
На вдовьем ложе памятью скорбя,
Она детей просила у тебя.
Подобно вспышкам на далёких тучах,
Дарила миру призраков летучих —
Сестёр и братьев, выросших в мозгу…
Кому об этом рассказать смогу?
Мне у могилы не просить участья.
Чего мне ждать?..
Летит за годом год.
— Отец! — кричу. — Ты не принёс нам счастья!.. —
Мать в ужасе мне закрывает рот.

Additional information: Kuznetsov‘s father died during war so there is an autobiographical aspect to this poem even if the literal event of shouting at his father’s grave never occurred.

Yuri Polikarpovich Kuznetsov (11 February 1941 – 17 November 2003) was a Russian poet, translator and literary critic. There is not much immediately available in English so I took some leads from his Russian Wikipedia page. Notably it seems Yuri Kuznetsov is a relatively common name as I came across a pianist and various athletes who share the name.

“In 1970 he graduated with honours from the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute. After the institute he worked in the Moscow publishing house “Sovremennik” in the editorial office of national poetry. From 1994 he was the editor of the publishing house “Sovetsky Pisatel a.k.a. Soviet Writer“, then in 1996 the editor of the poetry department in the magazine “Nash Sovremennik a.k.a Our Contemporary“. He was also a professor of the Literary Institute, member of the Union of Soviet Writers a.k.a. Union of Writers of the USSR since 1974 and in 1990 he signed the Letter of 74.”

Here is a biography of Kuznetsov with an English translation by a non-native speaker.

Here is information about the location of his grave.

He received the following awards:
* Order of the Badge of Honor (1984)
* State Prize of the RSFSR in the field of literature (1990) – for the book of poems and poem “The soul is faithful to unknown limits” (1986)
* Yesenin Prize (1998)
* Lermontov Prize (2001)
* D. Kedrin Prize “Architect” (2001)
* International Competition “Literary Russia” (2003)

Kuznetsov’s father was a military officer who rescued his wife and son from certain execution by the Germans behind enemy lines in 1942; he himself was killed later in the war. Kuznetsov was raised in villages in the region of Stavropol and at age nine began to write poetry that was published in local newspapers. Critics in the 1960s toiled hard to establish a counterbalance to the poetry of the postwar generation, but no “great reactionary poet” ever appeared. Instead, Kunetsov wrote his own alternative to the liberalism of the day. He is not reactionary on a political sense, but his poetry seems antihumanistic and lacking in tenderness and lacking in tenderness. Kuznetsov’s unquestioned, even rare talent as a poet is a unique combination of vampire and nightingale, of darkness and light. Perhaps no one has written so shatteringly about the pain of orphanhood as he, transforming pain into a cry of accusation against his father for dying and thus abandoning his wife and son.

When his first book was published in 1972, the naked sincerity of his work had a remarkable impact. Many consider him the future hope of Russian poetry. Others, who maintain that antihumanism and talent are incompatible, considered him and obtuse reactionary. One aspect of his reactionary character is the scandalous, mocking statement he made about the poetry of women, insulting both Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetayeva and all other women poets. (He announced that there are only three types of women poets, the first being the embroidery work of Akhmatova, the second the hysteria of Tsvetayeva, and the third, a general, faceless type.) Kuznetsov is certainly more complex that Aleksandr Blok’s definition of the poet: “[The poet] is entirely the child of the good and of light, he is entirely the triumph of freedom.” Kuznetsov is a child of light, but also darkness. We should not forget his light.

Biographical information about Kuznetsov, p.984-5, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).