Водосточные трубы (Downpipes) by Novella Nikolayevna Matveyeva

Evening rain

Through the downpipes

Damp walls

Green mould and moss.

Ah, those pipes –

With their round mouths

They gossip to strangers

Their houses’ secrets.

.

Downpipes

Your secrets give me no pleasure,

Rusty pipes

Stop telling tales –

I don’t know you

I don’t want your secrets

Knowing secrets

It’s hard to dream dreams, or to love.

.

Yes, I believe

That behind this door

Or that window

There’s injustice, and loss, and deceit,

I believe you!

But somehow I don’t believe

And smile

At these stone-built houses.

.

I believe in hope

Even if it seems hopeless

I believe, even,

In a vain, quite impossible dream –

I see the beautiful town

In white mist

In dark evening rain.

.

Poor downpipes

You’re old –

All your mould

Is just the first bloom on your lips.

You’re still old:

But we have grown young

Although we have known

The oldest pain.

.

Evening rain

Through the downpipes.

Damp walls

Green mould and moss.

Ah, those pipes –

Making round mouths

They gossip to strangers

Their houses’ secrets.

.

.

By Новелла Николаевна Матвеева

(Novella Nikolayevna Matveyeva)

(1965)

Translated by J. R. Rowland

A performance of the piece by Novella Matveyeva (with repetition of certain lines).

Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.

Водосточные трубы

Дождь, дождь вечерний сквозь водосточные трубы.
Мокрые стены, зеленая плесень да мох...
Ах, эти трубы! Сделали трубочкой губы,
Чтобы прохожим выболтать тайны домов.

Трубы вы, трубы, - я вашим тайнам не рада.
Ржавые трубы, вы бросьте про тайны трубить!
Я вас не знаю, мне ваших секретов не надо:
Зная секреты, трудно мечтать и любить.

Верю, ах, верю тому, что за этою дверью
И в том окошке измена, обида, обман...
Верю, ах, верю! - но почему-то...не верю.
И улыбаюсь каменным этим домам.

Верю надежде, даже как будто напрасной,
Даже напрасной, совсем невозможной мечте...
Вижу я город, вижу я город прекрасный
В белом тумане, в черном вечернем дожде.

Трубы вы, трубы, - Бедные! - Вы еще стары.
Вся ваша плесень - лишь первый пушок над губой.
Вы еще стары, а мы уже юными стали,
Хоть мы узнали самую старую боль.

...Дождь, дождь вечерний сквозь водосточные трубы;
Мокрые стены, зеленая плесень да мох...
Ах, эти трубы! Сделали трубочкой губы,
Чтобы прохожим выболтать тайны домов.

Мы только женщины – и, так сказать, “увы!”… (We’re Only Women) by Novella Matveyeva

We’re only women – alas, as it were.

But why alas? Time to define the reason.

‘Wine and women’ – so you say.

But we don’t talk of ‘chocolates and men’!

.

We distinguish you from buns or toffee

We somehow feel that people are not hams,

Though (to hear you) we only differ

In never having a head upon our shoulders.

.

‘Wine and women’? Let’s follow it from there.

Woman, take a cookbook,

Say ‘I love you better than jugged hare,

Than strawberry jam! Than pig’s feet! Than fish pie!’

.

Well, how do you like my affection?

You’re a person, not a piece of cheese?

– And I?

.

.

By Новелла Николаевна Матвеева

(Novella Nikolayevna Matveyeva)

(1965)

Translated by J. R. Rowland

.

Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.

.

Мы только женщины – и, так сказать, “увы!”…

Мы только женщины – и, так сказать, “увы!”

А почему “увы”? Пора задеть причины.

“Вино и женщины” – так говорите вы,

Но мы не говорим: “Конфеты и мужчины”.

.

Мы отличаем вас от груши, от халвы,

Мы как-то чувствуем, что люди – не ветчины,

Хотя, послушать вас, лишь тем и отличимы,

Что сроду на плечах не носим головы.

.

“Вино и женщины”? – Последуем отсель.

О женщина, возьми поваренную книжку,

Скажи: “Люблю тебя, как ягодный кисель,

Как рыбью голову! Как заячью лодыжку!

.

По сердцу ли тебе привязанность моя?

Ах, да! Ты не еда! Ты – человек! А я?”

Как дрожит на ветреном закате (How the sun trembles in the windy sunset) by Novella Matveyeva

How the sun trembles in the windy sunset.

Through the breaks in the trees

Its multitudinous rays

Toss like strands

In a bright flowing mane.

They fuse together, glittering

Like the flash of blades,

Each flash

Obscuring

Its predecessor…

The wood, misty under the slanting rays,

Sketches a royal crest,

Receives the sun’s teeth in its curly head,

Is distracted, dispersed, pale.

But already, like the final curtain,

The edge of the wood is moving towards darkness,

The sun prepares to set sail,

The distance slackens, the sky’s an orphan…

Clumps of trees

Shuffle wildly,

Silently their half-transparent,

Ambiguous, recumbent shadows

Drift away.

And already the trees,

On the threshold

Of the unknown night,

Shiver,

No longer

Believing in their shadows

Once they’ve fled.

.

By Новелла Николаевна Матвеева (Novella Nikolayevna Matveyeva)

(1965)

translated by Daniel Weissbort

.

.

Beneath is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.

.

Как дрожит на ветреном закате

Как дрожит на ветреном закате

Солнце сквозь древесные прорывы!

Тьмы лучей волнуются, как пряди

Золотой взвивающейся гривы.

.

Перепутываются, сверкают

Фехтовальным блеском пререканья,

Новые сверкания свергают

С трона предыдущее сверканье.

.

Дымный под наклонными лучами,

Образующими царский гребень,

Зубья солнца в кудри получая,

Лес растерян, распылен и бледен.

.

Но уже, как занавес к закрытью,

К темноте край леса тяготеет,

Солнце наклоняется к отплытью,

Даль слабеет, небо сиротеет.

.

Пятна рощ сместились, как шальные,

Тихо от деревьев отлетели

Их полупрозрачные, двойные,

Ложные, двусмысленные тени.

.

И уже деревья у преддверья

Неизвестной ночи задрожали,

И уже своим теням не верят,

Потому что тени убежали.

.

.

Additional information: Matveyeva was born on 7 October 1934 in Pushkin, Saint Petersburg (then Leningrad). She suffered the fate of so many war children and was brought up in children’s homes and, later, apparently spent much of her time in hospitals. She was a Russian bard, poet, writer, screenwriter, dramatist, and literary scientist.

Novella was also the cousin of poet Ivan Matveyev (Elagin). Her first poetry collection, Lyrics, was published in 1961 which was the same year she was admitted to the Union of Soviet Writers.

From the end of the 1950s on Matveyeva composed songs to her poetry and performed them, accompanying herself on a seven-string guitar. The element of fantasy and the dreamlike atmosphere of much of her poetry is unusual in the Soviet context.

In 1998 Matveyeva received the Russian State Pushkin Prize in poetry, and in 2002, she received the Russian Federation State Prize in Literature and Arts for her poetry collection Jasmine. Matveyeva died on 4 September 2016 at the age of 81 in Moscow Oblast.

Missing The Troop Train by Yevgeny Vinokurov

There’s something desperate about trains…

I stood alone on the icy platform,

lost in the Bashkir steppes.

What can be more fantastic, more desolate

than the light of an electric lamp

rocking in a small station at night?

Trains swept past from time to time.

Their roar engulfed me,

I was submerged in coal dust,

and each time, I grabbed hold of my cap –

it looked as though I was greeting someone.

The bare, stunted tree by the side of the platform

reached out after them…

I waited for one train at least

to stop, for God’s sake!

In the distance was the dark forest mass.

I lifted my head –

over me, a vast

host of stars:

regiments,

divisions,

armies of stars,

all bound for somewhere.

An hour earlier, I’d got out of the train

to fetch some boiling water…

I could be court-martialled for this.

I stood there,

the snow melted round my boots,

and the water in the aluminium kettle I was holding

had already iced over.

Above the forest mass I saw

a little star,

fallen a long way behind the others.

I looked at it

and it looked at me.

 

by Евгений Михайлович Винокуров (Yevgeny Mikhailovich Vinokurov)

(1965)

translated by Daniel Weissbort

By The Sea by Semyon Lipkin

The waves crashed under the flicker of the lighthouse

and I, in my ignorance, heard a monotone.

Years later the sea speaks to me and I begin to understand

there are birds and laundresses, sprites and sorcerers,

laments and curses, moans and profanity, white horses

and half breeds who rear up unexpectedly.

There are waves who are salesgirls with buxom hips

who sell foam from the counter, they tremble fluent or airy.

Nature can’t be indifferent, she always mimics us

like a loan, a translation; we’re the blueprint, she’s the copy.

Once upon a time the pebble was different

and so the wave was different.

 

by Семён Израилевич Липкин (Semyon Izrailevich Lipkin)

(1965)

translated by Yvonne Green


Lipkin is renowned as a literary translator and often worked from the regional languages which Stalin tried to obliterate. Lipkin hid a typescript of his friend Vasily Grossman‘s magnum opus, Life and Fate, from the KGB and initiated the process that brought it to the West.

Lipkin’s importance as a poet was achieved once his work became available to the general reading public after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the many years prior, he was sustained by the support of his wife, poet Inna Lisnianskaya and close friends such as Anna Akhmatova, Joseph Brodsky and Alexander Solzhenitsyn (who thought him a genius and championed his poetry). Lipkin’s verse includes explorations of history and philosophy and exhibits a keen sense of peoples’ diverse destinies. His poems include references to his Jewish heritage and to the Bible. They also draw on a first-hand awareness of the tragedies of Stalin’s Great Purge and World War II. Lipkin’s long-standing inner opposition to the Soviet regime surfaced in 1979-80, when he contributed in the uncensored almanac “Metropol” and then he and Lisnianskaya left the ranks of the official Writer’s Union of the USSR.