Молчание (Silentium) by Osip Mandelstam

She has yet to be born:

she is music and word,

and she eternally bonds

all life in this world.

 

The sea breathes gently;

the day glitters wildly.

A bowl of dazed azure

sways pale foam-lilac.

 

May I too reach back

to that ancient silence,

like a note of crystal

pure from its source.

 

Stay, Aphrodite, as foam.

Return, word, to music.

Heart, be shy of heart,

fused with life’s root.

 

by Осип Эмильевич Мандельштам (Osip Emilyevich Mandelshtam. His surname is commonly latinised as Mandelstam)

(1910)

translated by Robert Chandler and Boris Dralyuk


Fun fact: This is Mandelstam’s variation on Tyutchev’s earlier poem ‘Silentium‘.

Recital in the original Russian:

Russian cyrillic version:

Она еще не родилась,
Она и музыка и слово,
И потому всего живого
Ненарушаемая связь.

Спокойно дышат моря груди,
Но, как безумный, светел день,
И пены бледная сирень
В черно-лазоревом сосуде.

Да обретут мои уста
Первоначальную немоту,
Как кристаллическую ноту,
Что от рождения чиста!

Останься пеной, Афродита,
И, слово, в музыку вернись,
И, сердце, сердца устыдись,
С первоосновой жизни слито!

Advertisements

Маки (Poppies) by Innokenty Annensky

The gay day flames. The grass is still.

Like greedy impotence, poppies rise,

like lips that lust and poison fill,

like wings of scarlet butteflies.

 

The gay day flames… The garden now

is empty. Lust and feast are done.

Like heads of hags, the poppies bow

beneath the bright cup of the sun.

 

by Иннокентий Фёдорович Анненский (Innokenty Fyodorovich Annensky)

(1910)

translated by C. M. Bowra


 

Fun extra: Here is the poem performed in Russian.

In A Restaurant by Alexander Blok

Will I ever forget it, that mythical night:

in the blaze of the setting sun

an abyss divided the sky in two

and the street lamps came on one by one.

 

I sat in a crowd by the window while somewhere

an orchestra sang about love;

I sent you a rose in a glass of champagne

as gold as the heavens above.

 

Returning your arrogant look with a mixture

of pride and confusion, I bowed;

with studied disdain you turned to your escort:

‘That one, too, is in love with me now.’

 

All at once the ecstatic strings thundered out

in response… But still I could see

from your show of contempt, from the tremor that shook

your hand, that your thoughts were with me.

 

You jumped up from your place with the speed of a bird

that’s been startled; your languid perfume,

the swirl of your dress as you passed, died away

like a vision that’s over too soon.

 

But out of its depths a mirror reflected

your glance as you cried: ‘Now’s your chance!’

And a gypsy, jangled her beads, sang of love

to the dawn and started to dance.

 

by Александр Александрович Блок (Alexander Alexandrovich Blok)

(1910)

translated by Stephen Capus

‘I Have Written Down The Words…’ by Anna Akhmatova

I have written down the words

I have long dared not to speak.

Dully the head beats,

This body is not my own.

 

The call of the horn has died.

The heart has the same puzzles.

Snowflakes, -light- autumnal,

Lie on the croquet lawn.

 

Let the last leaves rustle!

Let the last thoughts languish!

I don’t want to trouble

People used to being happy.

 

Because your lips are yours

I forgive their cruel joke…

O, tomorrow you will come

On the first sledge-ride of winter.

 

The drawing room candles will glow

More tenderly in the day.

I will bring from the conservatory

A whole bouquet of roses.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1910, Tsarskoye Selo)

– from Вечер (Evening, 1912), translation by D. M. Thomas

Evening Room by Anna Akhmatova

I speak in those words suddenly

That rise once in the soul. So sharply comes

The musty odour of an old sachet,

A bee hums on a white chrysanthemum.

 

And the room, where the light strikes through slits,

Cherishes love, for here it is still new.

A bed, with a French inscription over it,

Reading: ‘Seigneur, ayez pitié de nous.’

 

Of such a lived-through legend the sad strokes

You must not touch, my soul, nor seek to do…

Of Sèvres statuettes the brilliant cloaks

I see are darkening and wearing through.

 

Yellow and heavy, one last ray has poured

Into a fresh bouquet of dahlias

And hardened there. And I hear viols play

And of a clavecin the rare accord.

 

– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1910, Tsarskoye Selo)

– from Вечер (Evening, 1912), translation by D. M. Thomas