Nothing’s been taken away!
We’re apart – I’m delighted by this!
Across the hundreds of miles
that divide us, I send you my kiss.
Our gifts, I know, are unequal.
For the first time my voice is still.
What, my young Derzhavin, do
you make of my doggrel?
For your terrible flight I baptized you –
young eagle, it’s time to take wing!
You endured the sun without blinking,
but my gaze – that’s a different thing!
None ever watched your departure
more tenderly than this
or more finally. Across hundreds
of summers, I send you my kiss.
by Марина Ивановна Цветаева (Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva)
translated by Peter Oram
Fun fact: Her referring to Mandelstam as ‘my young Derzhavin’ references Gavriil (Gavrila) Romanovich Derzhavin (Гавриил (Гаврила) Романович Державин), who was one of the most highly esteemed Russian poets before Alexander Pushkin, as well as a statesman. Although his works are traditionally considered literary classicism, his best verse is rich with antitheses and conflicting sounds in a way reminiscent of John Donne and other metaphysical poets.