Relearning Solitude [Extract] by Boris Slutsky

Just as I once learned one ancient tongue

enough to read its texts,

and I forgot the aphabet –

I’ve forgotten solitude.

This all must be recalled, recovered, and relearned.

I remember how once I met

a compiler of words

in the ancient tongue that I had learned

and lost.

Turned out, I knew two words: ‘heavens’ and ‘apple’.

I might have recalled the rest –

All beneath the heavens and beside the apples –

But the need wasn’t there.

 

by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий (Boris Abramovich Slutsky)

(1977)

translated by Marat Grinberg and Judith Pulman

 

Interesting information: Slutsky was a atheist but he didn’t forget his cultural roots regarding not only Yiddish but also the Hebrew he had learned as a child which remained important to him even if only as deeply felt absences. He had to ‘relearn solitude’ due to the death of his wife Tanya in 1977. For the following three months, before he fell into a depressed silence for the last nine years of his life during which he wrote nothing, he produced some of the most highly regarded poems on the themes of love and mourning in the Russian language.


Alf Abets by Rony Robinson

Eighteen apples

Be like me

See if you can

Deep blue sea.

Easy does it

Every time

Jeannie likes me

Ain’t you mine.

I eyed Ivor

Jays can fly

Kay’s a singer

Elephants cry.

Emma’s empty

Anyway

Owners only

Peas, please pay

Queue less quickly

Aren’t you nice

Especially Sarah

Teach her twice.

You’ll know better

VIPs

What a whopper

Ex-wife sees.

 

 

Ain’t you coming

Beans for tea

Seems quite pleasant

Dean can’t see.

Emus rattle

If they die

Jeans are shrinking

Hate your tie.

I’m an eyeful

Jacob’s knot.

Cake’s for eating

Elton’s hot.

Empty bottles

Any time

Opening over

Peace in our time.

Cumin powder

Artist’s nose

Esther argues

Tease her toes.

Universal

Veal ham pie

Double youth club

Extra wise.

 

by Rony Robinson