You're not alone. You haven't died,
while you still,beggar-woman at your side,
take pleasure in the grandeur of the plain,
the gloom, the cold,the whirlwinds of snow.
In sumptuous penury, in mighty poverty
live comforted and at rest -
your days and nights are blest,
your sweet-voiced labour without sin.
Unhappy he, a shadow of himself,
whom a bark astounds and the wind mows down,
and to be pitied he, more dead than alive,
who begs handouts from a ghost.
by Осип Эмильевич Мандельштам (Osip Emilyevich Mandelshtam.)
His surname is commonly latinised as Mandelstam)
translated by Andrew Davis
In a strange house, in a far away land,
her portrait hangs on the wall;
she herself is dying like a beggar woman,
lying on straw, in pain that can’t be told.
But here she looks as she always did look –
she is young, rich and draped
in the luxurious green cloak
in which she was always portrayed.
I gaze at your counternance as if at an icon…
‘Blessed be your name slaughtered Rus!’
I quietly touch your cloak with one hand;
and with that same hand make the sign of the cross.
by Тэффи (Teffi) (1872 – 1952)
a.k.a. Надежда Александровна Лoхвицкая (Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya)
translated by Robert Chandler
Now no-one will be listening to songs.
The days long prophesied have come to pass.
The world has no more miracles. Don’t break
My heart, song, but be still: you are the last.
Not long ago you took your morning flight
With all a swallow’s free accomplishment.
Now that you are a hungry beggar-woman,
Don’t go knocking at the stranger’s gate.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1917)
– from Подорожник (Plantain/Wayside Grass, 1921) translation by D. M. Thomas