Август (August) by Boris Pasternak

As it promised without deception
the sun burst through early in the morning
with a slanting saffron strip
from the curtain to the divan.

It covered with a hot ochre
the neighbouring forest, the houses of the village,
my bed, the damp pillow
and the edge of the wall behind the book shelf.

I remembered why
the pillow was damp.
I dreamed that you came one after
the other through the forest to see me off.

You walked in a crowd, separately and in pairs,
suddenly somebody remembered that today
is the sixth of August Old Style,
the Transfiguration of the Lord.

Usually a light without a flame
comes out on that day from Mount Tabor,
and the autumn, clear as a sign,
rivets gazes to itself.

And you went through the thin, beggarly,
naked, trembling alder thicket
into the ginger-red cemetery copse
which glowed like a honey cake.

The imposing sky neighboured
the treetops that had fallen silent,
and the distance echoed and called with the long
drawn out voices of the cocks.

In the forest like a public land surveyor
death stood in the middle of the graveyard,
looking at my dead pale face
so as to dig a grave the right length.

Everyone physically sensed
a quiet voice close by.
It was my former prophetic voice
that resounded untouched by decay.

‘Farewell, azure of the Transfiguration,
and gold of the second Salvation.
Soften with a woman’s final caress
the bitterness of my fateful hour.

Farewell, years of hardship,
we will say farewell to the woman throwing
down a challenge to the abyss of humiliation!
I am your battlefield.

Farewell, spread out sweep of the wing,
free stubbornness of flight,
and the image of the world, presented in the word,
and creation, and miracle-working.’

By Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
(1953)
from До́ктор Жива́го
(Doctor Zhivago)
translated by Richard McKane

Additional information: The poem is featured in the novel До́ктор Жива́го (Doctor Zhivago) as if written by it’s protagonist Yuri Zhivago.

The poem read by Александр Феклистов (Aleksandr Fleklistov).

Август

Как обещало, не обманывая,
Проникло солнце утром рано
Косою полосой шафрановою
От занавеси до дивана.

Оно покрыло жаркой охрою
Соседний лес, дома поселка,
Мою постель, подушку мокрую,
И край стены за книжной полкой.

Я вспомнил, по какому поводу
Слегка увлажнена подушка.
Мне снилось, что ко мне на проводы
Шли по лесу вы друг за дружкой.

Вы шли толпою, врозь и парами,
Вдруг кто-то вспомнил, что сегодня
Шестое августа по старому,
Преображение Господне.

Обыкновенно свет без пламени
Исходит в этот день с Фавора,
И осень, ясная, как знаменье,
К себе приковывает взоры.

И вы прошли сквозь мелкий, нищенский,
Нагой, трепещущий ольшаник
В имбирно-красный лес кладбищенский,
Горевший, как печатный пряник.

С притихшими его вершинами
Соседствовало небо важно,
И голосами петушиными
Перекликалась даль протяжно.

В лесу казенной землемершею
Стояла смерть среди погоста,
Смотря в лицо мое умершее,
Чтоб вырыть яму мне по росту.

Был всеми ощутим физически
Спокойный голос чей-то рядом.
То прежний голос мой провидческий
Звучал, не тронутый распадом:

«Прощай, лазурь преображенская
И золото второго Спаса
Смягчи последней лаской женскою
Мне горечь рокового часа.

Прощайте, годы безвременщины,
Простимся, бездне унижений
Бросающая вызов женщина!
Я – поле твоего сражения.

Прощай, размах крыла расправленный,
Полета вольное упорство,
И образ мира, в слове явленный,
И творчество, и чудотворство».

1953 г.

A 1954 recording of Boris Pasternak himself reading the poem.
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The Thought-Fox by Ted Hughes

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow,
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

 

by Ted Hughes (1930-1998)

from The Hawk In The Rain

Where Is Your God Now?

I was once asked ‘Where is your God now?’

I could not answer.

Millennia ago homunculi had been forged from horse shit and spilt seeds. Those that had formed like stalactites became known as men while those that had formed as geodes became known as women. Each an incomplete being. Each requiring the other to perpetuate their mutual existence. Each mixing their elemental stone mass to create metamorphic rocks, an amalgam, transformed forever never to return to their original state.

In time the homunculi, believing themselves above the natural order, sought out the fruit of knowledge so as to complete themselves and be equal to their creator. Imbibing it they came to understand the azoth the animating spirit hidden in all matter that makes transmutation possible, but in doing so were themselves locked into a single form forever.

In time God grew weary of the people and turned them to pillars of salt upon the baked earth. He flooded the world and thus the seas laden with their undrinkable waters were created. Other Gods rose from seas of frothing milk and in time were but personas of some greater beings which could not be conceived save though explaining what they were not rather than what they were. Others say that all things were but flakes of skin and detritus from a giant who is the universe complete in one being. His dandruff the people. His veins the rivers. His breathe the winds. The sun and moon his eyes.

Others yet say that the queen of the black lake cast her pale sister amongst the stars but was too weak to exile her completely. Thus comes the waxen moon mocking the earth every night when the queen dreams only of slumber yet is unsettled by her sister’s reflected glory.

Some were both of the earth and return to the earth and consider life to be but a terrible punishment to be tolerated until that return to dust. The Gods not so much deities but cruel, ennui afflicted, ubermensche who toy with their inferiors to try and forget their own inadequacy.

A growing number consider there to be no God save logic. And in logic they find their deaths. To become tools, a single tooth in the never ending cogs of the universal machine, to have purpose but no greater value. One day the universe will fade out or just pull the plug and there will be no backup to restore.

Perhaps God killed himself two thousand years ago when he became flesh realising the futility of what her had bourn into creation and seeking release from his burden. Others would say only an aspect of the one true God died. Others again would argue that this form was but a shadow, created by God, trying to explain his logic as a scientist, raising chicks from the egg, would use a sock puppet. Humanity cannot understand the divine. Prophets come and go saying they know the true word of God. Could a single cell life form like an amoeba contemplate the office politics of a multi-national’s CEO having an affair with his foreign national subordinate wherein, while caressing each other in the post coital chill, they decide the budget cuts which will affect those lower tiered staff who chose to dedicate their careers to working hard, yet blindly, to the reality of humanity’s selfish genes and this coupling’s infidelity? Of course not – nor can a single, flawed, being understand everything that their multi-faceted creator thinks or believes before, during or after their existance.

Where is your God now?

Beyond your reach. Beyond your understanding. Beyond thought, wisdom, logic and emotion. Beyond fire, water, wind and earth. Beyond all things and existing within all things. In the things that exist and the things that do not exist. In between the cracks of reality and the gulfs of the imagination. Where there is both light and dark and where there is neither yet both simultaneously exist. Where you think God is and where you do not realise where God is. Where it has always been and always will be.

Do not even question where you God is now…

No one can answer.


Another off the cuff vignette to keep things ticking over. No editting. No real focus. Just an experiment in writing. So there are a few made up creation myths and a few actual ones in there. The divine is beyond our understanding in whatever form you wish to believe in it in. Some wait for the end times. Some think it has already passed. Scientists believe that the Higgs-Boson will reveal all the answers to life, the universe and everything. The answer is 42. It is all beyond our understanding.

Prospero:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158