Flies, like black thoughts, have not quit me all day…
A. N. Apukhtin (1840 – 93)
I’ve grown weary of sleeplessness, dreams.
Locks of hair hang over my eyes:
I would like, with the poison of rhymes,
to drug thoughts I cannot abide.
I would like to unravel these knots…
Or is the whole thing a mistake?
In late autumn the flies are such pests –
their cold wings so horribly sticky.
Fly-thoughts crawl about, as in dreams,
they cover the paper in black…
Oh, how dead, and how dreadful they seem…
Tear them up, burn them up – quick!
by Иннокентий Фёдорович Анненский (Innokenty Fyodorovich Annensky)
translated by Boris Dralyuk
There are such easy ways
to leave this life,
to burn to an end
without pain or thought,
but a Russian poet
has no such luck.
A bullet is more likely
to show his winged soul
the way to Heaven;
or else the shaggy paw
of voiceless terror will squeeze
the life out of his heart
as if it were a sponge.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
translation by Robert Chandler
Not so fun facts about the poem’s subject: On 28 of December in 1925 Yesenin was found dead in the room in the Hotel Angleterre in St Petersburg. His last poem Goodbye my friend, goodbye (До свиданья, друг мой, до свиданья) according to Wolf Ehrlich was written by him the day before he died. Yesenin complained that there was no ink in the room, and he was forced to write with his blood. According to the consensus among academic researchers of Yesenin’s life, the poet was in a state of depression a week after he escaped from a mental clinic and committed suicide by hanging. A theory exists that Yesenin’s death was actually a murder by OGPU agents who staged it to look like suicide.