Dreadful! It drips and it listens -
whether it's all alone in the world crushing a twig like lace at the window, or is someone watching? Palpable, though, is the pressure of porous earth's taut swellings, and far off, audible as in August, midnight ripens in fields. No, no sound, no witness, Convincing there's no one there, back it goes to its game of rolling down roofs and across gutters. I'll lift it up to my lips and listen - whether I'm all alone in the world, ready to burst out in sobs if I need to, or is someone watching? Silence. Not a leaf moving. No dot of light, just weird gulps and splashings about in slippers, the lulls full of sighs and tears. By Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к (Boris Leonidovich Pasternak) (1917) translated by Angela Livingstone
A recital of the poem in Russian:
Below is the poem in it’s original Russian cyrillic form:
Ужасный! — Капнет и вслушается, Все он ли один на свете Мнет ветку в окне, как кружевце, Или есть свидетель. Но давится внятно от тягости Отеков — земля ноздревая, И слышно: далеко, как в августе, Полуночь в полях назревает. Ни звука. И нет соглядатаев. В пустынности удостоверясь, Берется за старое — скатывается По кровле, за желоб и через. К губам поднесу и прислушаюсь, Все я ли один на свете, — Готовый навзрыд при случае, — Или есть свидетель. Но тишь. И листок не шелохнется. Ни признака зги, кроме жутких Глотков и плескания в шлепанцах И вздохов и слез в промежутке.
In this desert of language
we find ourselves in,
with the sign-post with the word ‘God’
and the distance… ?
Pity the simpleton
with his mouth open crying:
How far is it to God?
And the wiseacre says: Where you were,
You know the smile
as the machine that thinks it has outpaced
I am one of those
who sees from the arms opened
to embrace the future
the shadow of the Cross fall
on the smoothest of surfaces
causing me to stumble.
R. S. Thomas
(1981) Between Here and Now
One short man said: “I would give anything if only I were even a tiny bit taller.”
He barely said it when he saw a lady medegician standing in front of him.
“What do you want?” says the medegician.
But the short man just stands there so frightened he can’t even speak.
“Well?” says the medegician.
The short man just stands there and says nothing. The medegician vanishes.
And the shortman started crying and biting his nails. First he chewed off all the nails on his fingers, and then on his toes.
Reader! Think this fable over and it will make you somewhat uncomfortable.
(Daniil Ivanovich Kharms) Даниил Иванович Хармс
Даниил Иванович Ювачёв (Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachov)
Matvei Yankelevich and Eugene Ostashevsky
Though all ran from him, he did not
Run, but awaited
Him with his arms
Out, his ears stopped
To his bell, his alarmed
Crying. He lay down
With him there, sharing his sores’
Stench, the quarantine
Of his soul; contaminating
Himself with a kiss,
With the love that
Our science has disinfected.
R. S. Thomas
(1968) Not That He Brought Flowers
12 February is
St Julian’s feast day. He is the patron saint of: boatmen, carnival workers, childless people, circus workers, clowns, ferrymen, fiddlers, fiddle players, hospitallers, hotel-keepers, hunters, innkeepers, jugglers, knights, murderers (they have a patron saint?!), pilgrims, shepherds, to obtain lodging while traveling, travelers, wandering musicians, He is also known as Julian the Hospitaller.