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
They are those that life happens to.
They didn’t ask to be born
In those bleak farmsteads, but neither
Did they ask not. Life took the seed
And broadcast it upon the poor,
Rush-stricken soil, an experiment
What is a man’s
Price? For promises of a break
In the clouds; for harvests that are not all
Wasted; for one animal born
Healthy, where seven have died,
He will kneel down and give thanks
In a chapel whose stones are wrenched
From the moorland.
I have watched them bent
For hours over their trade,
Speechless, and have held my tongue
From its question. It was not my part
To show them, like a meddler from the town,
their picture, nor the audiences
That look at them in pity or pride.
by R. S. Thomas
from Pietà (1966)
Koratygin came to see Tikakeyev but did not find him at home.
Meanwhile, Tikakeyev was at the store buying sugar, meat and cucumbers. Koratygin milled around in Tikakeyev’s doorway and was about ready to write him a note when he saw Tikakeyev himself, carrying a plastic satchel in his hands. Koratygin saw Tikakeyev and yelled:
“And I’ve been waiting here for a whole hour!”
“That’s not true,” said Tikakeyev, “I’ve only been out 25 minutes.”
“Well that I don’t know,” said Koratygin, “but I’ve been here an hour, that much I do know.”
“Don’t lie,” said Tikakeyev, “It’s shameful.”
“My good sir,” said Koratygin, “you should use some discretion in choosing your words.”
“I think…,” started Tikakeyev, but Koratygin interrupted:
“If you think…,” he said, but then Tikakeyev interrupted Koratygin, saying:
“You’re one to talk!”
These words so enraged Koratygin that he pinched one nostril with his finger and blew his other nostril at Tikakeyev.
Then Tikakeyev snatched the biggest cucumber from his satchel and hit Koratygin over the head.
Koratygin clasped his hands to his head, fell over and died.
What big cucumbers they sell in stores nowadays!
by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Ivanovich Kharms)
a.k.a. Даниил Иванович Ювачёв (Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachov)
translated by Matvei Yankelevich
The unrepeatable voice won’t speak again,
Died yesterday and quit us, the talker with groves.
Or into gentlest rain of which he sang.
And all the flowers that grew only in this world
Came into bloom to meet his death.
And straightway it’s grown quiet on the planet
That bears a name so modest… Earth.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)
translation by D. M. Thomas
Fun fact: The poem refers to the death of Boris Pasternak (29 January 1890 – 30 May 1960).