Ласточки (Swallows) by Afanasy Fet

Nature’s ever indolent spy,

forgetting cares and tasks, I’m fond

of watching darkening swallows fly

above a twilit pond.

.

I watch an arrow almost touch

the pond’s clear glass – until I fear

a hostile element may snatch

this winged lightning from the air.

.

Once more this upsurge of elation,

once more black water sliding by…

But is not this true inspiration?

The very breath of being alive?

.

Do poets not seek ways forbidden

to beings made from dust and clay?

Do I not dream of what lies hidden

and long to scoop a drop away?

.

by Афанасий Афанасьевич Фет (Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet)

a.k.a. Шеншин (Shenshin)

(1884)

translated by Anonymous, revised by Robert Chandler, Boris Dralyuk and Irina Mashinski

.

A reading of the poem in Russian by the actor Sergey Chonishvili (Сергей Чонишвили)

Below is the original, Russian Cyrillic, version of the poem.

Ласточки

Природы праздный соглядатай,
Люблю, забывши всё кругом,
Следить за ласточкой стрельчатой
Над вечереющим прудом.

Вот понеслась и зачертила —
И страшно, чтобы гладь стекла
Стихией чуждой не схватила
Молниевидного крыла.

И снова то же дерзновенье
И та же тёмная струя, —
Не таково ли вдохновенье
И человеческого я?

Не так ли я, сосуд скудельный,
Дерзаю на запретный путь,
Стихии чуждой, запредельной,
Стремясь хоть каплю зачерпнуть?

.

Extra information: Here is the Wikipedia page about swallows and here is the RSPB page which has lots of interesting information about swallows.

Also a ‘revised translation’ which is rare. I wonder what the previous translation was like and how it came to require 3 professionals in the revision?

A Tree Toad Loved A She-Toad by Anon

A tree toad loved a she-toad

That lived up in a tree.

She was a three-toed tree toad

But a two-toed toad was he.

The two-toed toad tried to win

The she-toad’s friendly nod,

For the two-toed toad loved the ground

On which the three-toed toad trod.

But no matter how the two-toed tree toad tried,

He could not please her whim.

In her tree toad bower

With her three-toed power,

The she toad vetoed him.

 

– by Anon.

On Mules We Find Two Legs Behind by Anon

On mules we find two legs behind

And two we find before.

We stand behind before we find

What those behind be for.

We find before the two before

Just what they, too, be for.

so stand before the two behind

and behind the two before.

 

by Anon

I’ve Got A Dog As Thin As A Rail by Anon

I’ve got a dog as thin as a rail,

He’s got fleas all over his tail;

Every time his tail goes flop

The fleas on the bottom all hop to the top.

 

by Anon

It Was Midnight by Anon

It was midnight and the sun beat down

Upon the deep red sea

The fishes nestled in the trees

And sang a song to me.

The butterflies swam slowly by

A sandwich in each hand,

The sheep all croaked ‘Abide With Me’

Along with the big brass band.

I certainly live in a very strange place

where life is never dull

As Farmer Gyles said of his Aberdeen pride

‘It’s unpredictabull’.

by Anon

There Was A Young Lady From Ickenham by Anon

There was a young lady from Ickenham

Who went on a bus-trip to Twickenham.

She drank too much beer,

Which made her feel queer,

So she took off her boot and was sick-in-’em.

by Anon.

I Sat Next To The Duchess At Tea by Anon

I sat next to the duchess at tea.

It was just as I feared it would be.

Her rumblings abdominal

Were simply phenomenal

And everyone thought it was me!

by Anon.

Ladies and Jellybeans by Anon

Ladies and jellybeans,

Reptiles and crocodiles,

I stand before you

And sit behind you

To tell you something

I know nothing about.

There will be a meeting tomorrow night

Right after breakfast

To decide which colour

To whitewash the church.

There is no admission;

Just pay at the door.

There will be plenty of seats,

So sit on the floor.

 

– by Anon