What a sturdy square block of a thing you are! Such a fine, white, self-satisfied creature! Sometimes you stand dumb as a boulder or drop off into a cold sleep, or Sometimes your metal belly rumbles, but there's no point in working out your meaning. Of all machines the fridge must be the most good-natured; hog-fat and roomy as a snow-drift, it must be said to hold the purest heart. Firmly under human domination even the cold that creeps out from it is only a small cold blast, too small to threaten any freeze-up of our future. If ever robots rise in revolution, if ever they attack the human race, at least you refrigerators won't be amongst the ones to break the peace. For you are the house-dog of machinery a faithful and contented animal; so give your door a docile wag for Man, your living friend, and show him how you smile. by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий (Boris Abramovich Slutsky) (19??) translated by Elaine Feinstein
Towards our end, as life runs out,
love is more troubled and more tender.
Fade not, fade not, departing light
of our last love, our farewell splendour.
Shadow overshadows half the sky;
far to the west the last rays wander.
Shine on, shine on, last light of day;
allow us still to watch and wonder.
What if our blood runs thinner, cooler?
This does not make the heart less tender.
Last love, last love, what can I call you?
Joy and despair, mortal surrender.
by Фёдор Иванович Тютчев (Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev)
translated by Robert Chandler
A reading of the poem in Russian:
Fun facts: Counted amongst the admirers of Tyutchev’s works were Dostoevsky and Tolstoy along with Nekrasov and Fet. Then later Osip Mandelstam who, in a passage approved of by Shalamov, believed that a Russian poet should not have copy of Tyutchev in his personal library – he should know all of Tyutchev off by heart.
Beneath is the original Russian language version of the poem in Cyrillic.
О, как на склоне наших лет
Нежней мы любим и суеверней…
Сияй, сияй, прощальный свет
Любви последней, зари вечерней!
Полнеба обхватила тень,
Лишь там, на западе, бродит сиянье, –
Помедли, помедли, вечерний день,
Продлись, продлись, очарованье.
Пускай скудеет в жилах кровь,
Но в сердце не скудеет нежность…
О ты, последняя любовь!
Ты и блаженство, и безнадежность.