Ты думаешь в твоё жилище… (You think…) by Georgy Rayevsky

You think: wont fate tap
Like a walking stick at your dwelling?
And what is that beggar to you,
Who’s standing there on the street?
But we’re bound by a dreaful
Collective guarantee, and it’s not for
Some to be tormented with mortal anguish,
Others to drink wine with joy.
We are those who fall and moan
And those whose triumph is now.
We are that ship which is going down,
And the one who sank it.

by Георгий Авдеевич Раевский (Оцуп)
(Georgy Avdeevich Rayevsky) (Otsup)
translated by Albert C. Todd

Ты думаешь в твоё жилище…

Ты думаешь: в твоё жилище
Судьба клюкой не постучит?..
И что тебе до этой нищей,
Что там на улице стоит!

Но грозной круговой порукой
Мы связаны, и не дано
Одним томиться смертной мукой,
Другим пить радости вино.

Мы – те, кто падает и стонет,
И те, чьё нынче торжество;
Мы – тот корабль, который тонет,
И тот, что потопил его.

Additional information: Georgy Avdeevich Raevsky (Георгий Авдеевич Раевский) (real name Otsup; December 29, 1897, Tsarskoye Selo  – February 19, 1963, Stuttgart) was a Russian poet and prose writer and author of articles regarding the theater. He emigrated to Paris in the early 1920s and was a part of the Cross roads group. In order not to be confused with his brother, Nikolai Avdeevich Otsup, he took the name of Pushkin‘s friend Nikolai Raevsky as a pseudonym . He wrote poems, stories, articles about music, parodies and epigrams. On a side note the book I referenced, published in the 1990s, gives his dates as 1897 to 1962 but Wikipedia gives them as 17 December 1897 to 19 February 1963 which I assume to be more accurate.

Rayevsky, whose real surname was Otsup, was the brother of the poet Nikolai Otsup and the son of the photographer of the Imperial Court in St Petersburg. He emigrated to Paris in the early 1920s and joined the Perekriostki (Crossroads) group, which appeared in 1926, together with Yury Terapiano, Vladimir Smolensky, Dovid Knut, and Yury Mandelstam. His poetry regularly appeared in émigré journals and resulted in three collections: Strofy (Strofes) (1928), Novye stikhotvoreniia (New Poems) (1946), and Tret’ ia kniga (Third Book)(1953). In the serious, philosophical aspect of his poetry can be seen Rayevsky’s religious approach to the world and perhaps, as in the poem here, and expression of the tragedy of emigration.

Biographical information about Rayevsky, p.331-332, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Каждый молод (Everyone is young…) by David Burlyuk

Everyone is young, young, young,
Hungry as maggots in dung
So follow then after me…
Behind my back you’ll be.
I’ll throw out a proud call
This brief speech is all!
We’ll eat stones and grasses
Praise bitter poison in glases
We’ll gobble up void
Depth, height, and spheroid
Birds, beasts, monsters, fish
Wind, clay, salt, and water’s swish!!…
Everyone is young, young, young,
Hungry as maggots in dung:
All that we meet on the way
May be food for us this day!

by Давид Давидович Бурлюк
(David Davidovich Burlyuk / Burliuk)
translated by Albert. C. Todd

Каждый молод

Каждый молод молод молод
В животе чертовский голод
Так идите же за мной…
За моей спиной
Я бросаю гордый клич
Этот краткий спич!
Будем кушать камни травы
Сладость горечь и отравы
Будем лопать пустоту
Глубину и высоту
Птиц, зверей, чудовищ, рыб,
Ветер, глины, соль и зыбь!
Каждый молод молод молод
В животе чертовский голод
Все что встретим на пути
Может в пищу нам идти.

Additional information: Давид Давидович Бурлюк (David Davidovich Burliuk or Burlyuk depending on the translateration choice) (21 July 1882 – 15 January 1967) was a Russian-language poet, artist and publicist associated with the Futurist and Neo-Primitivist movements. Burliuk has been described as “the father of Russian Futurism.”

Burlyuk, the son of an estate manager, studied art in Kazan, Odessa, Moscow, Munich (1902-1903), and Paris (1904). A poet as well as a painter, Burlyuk was the first to understand the genius of Vladimir Mayakovsky and was his closest comrade-in-arms. Together they were expelled from the Moscow School of Art and Architecture for “participation in public disputes,” and together they went on to shock both the Left and the Right by sporting yellow jackets, wooden spoons in their buttonholes, and paintings on their cheeks.

Together with Mayakovsky, Aleksey Kruchyonykh, and Velemir Khlebnikov, Burlyuk signed the manifesto of the Futurists, “A Slap in the Face of Public Taste” (1912), organized their readings, and arranged the publication of their poetry.

Burlyuk lived for a long time in the United States, where he published the journal Color and Rhyme. In 1956 he returned to Moscow, where the young poets were astonished to see that this shaker of foundations had become a kindly, bent old man, a historical relic who had, as if by accident, survived many tempests.

Biographical information about Burlyuk, p.110, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день! (What A Sweet Little Day…) by Yury Odarchenko

What a sweet little day, what a day!
All day long such rubbish.
In my soul and at the market and in the church
And in romantic verses,
In the drabbest hut, in a palace…
And no period at the end…
What a sweet little day, what a day!
Foggy day. And a shadow of the abyss
In my soul, at the market, in church,
And in dramatic poetry.
And if the sun comes up,
And leads death by the hand,
Then it’ll be the same –
It’s both cramped and dark in a coffin.

by Юрий Павлович Одарченко
(Yury Pavlovich Odarchenko)
translated by Nina Kossman

Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день!…

Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день!
Весь день такая дребедень:
В душе, на ярмарке, в церквах
И в романтических стихах,
В последней хате, во дворце…
И точки нету на конце…
Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день!
Туманный день. И бездны тень
В душе, на ярмарке, в церквах
И в драматических стихах.
А если солнышко взойдет
И смерть под ручку приведет,
То это будет все равно —
В гробу и тесно и темно

Additional information: The Russian language Wikipedia entry about him. A PDF of a collection of some of his poetry and prose in Russian. This poem is on page 54 of the PDF.

Odarchenko was born in the Ukraine and little of his life is known until he emigrated. He lived in emigration in Paris, where he owned a boutique selling silk dresses that he hand-painted. He lived outside the Paris émigré literary world, though in the 1930s he became a close friend of Vladimir Smolensky and in 1947 published an almanac with the participation of Ivan Bunin, Gregory Ivanov, Aleksei Remizov, Boris Zaitsev, and others. His poetry began to appear seperately in journals in 1948 and he managed to publish a single slim volume of collected verse, Deniok (Little Day), in 1949.

His underappreciated poetry was highly professional, reaching the level of Ivanov, one of the finest poets of emigration. Odarchenko and Ivanov share the capacity to write not by lines but by stanzas; in their poetry a quatrain seems not made of collected parts but cast as a single piece. Odarchenko’s verse can be at once bother solidly dense and light-bodied. He chose to take his own life.

Biographical information about Odarchenko, p.453, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Гильотина… (The Guillotine’s…) by Boris Savinkov a.k.a. V. Ropshin

The guillotine’s
Sharp blade?
Well then, just what?
I’m not afraid of the guillotine,
I laugh at the executioner,
At his steel blade.
The guillotine is my life,
Every day they execute me…
Every day two gentlemen
In old-fashioned frock coats
Sit with me as guests.
And then they lea me through the door,
They take my hands firmly
And lay me under the sharp blade.
My life passes this way…
And on Sundays people go
To an execution, as to a low farce.
The guillotine?
A sharp blade?
Well then, just what?
I’ll drink the glass down now…
Let them lead me out to execution.

By Борис Викторович Савинков
(Boris Viktorovich Savinkov)
a.k.a. В. Ропшин (V. Ropshin) (his literary pseudonym)
Translated by Albert C. Todd


Гильотина —
Острый нож?
Ну так что ж?
Не боюсь я гильотины,
Я смеюсь над палачом,
Над его стальным ножом.
Гильотина — жизнь моя,
Каждый день казнят меня…
Каждый день два господина
В старомодных сюртуках
У меня сидят в гостях,
А потом за дверь выводят,
Крепко за руки берут
И под острый нож кладут.
В этом жизнь моя проходит…
И на казнь, как в балаган,
В воскресенье люди ходят.
Гильотина —
Острый нож?
Ну так что ж?
Я сейчас допью стакан…
Пусть на казнь меня выводят.

Additional information: Boris Viktorovich Savinkov (Борис Викторович Савинков) (31 January 1879 – 7 May 1925) was a Russian Empire writer and revolutionary. As one of the leaders of the Fighting Organisation, the paramilitary wing of the Socialist Revolutionary Party, Savinkov was involved in the assassinations of several high-ranking imperial officials in 1904 and 1905. After the February Revolution of 1917, he became Assistant Minister of War (in office from July to August 1917) in the Provisional Government. After the October Revolution of the same year he organized armed resistance against the ruling Bolsheviks. Savinkov emigrated from Soviet Russia in 1920, but in 1924 the OGPU lured him back via Operation Trust to the Soviet Union and arrested him. He was either killed or committed suicide, by throwing himself out of a window, at Lubyanka prison.

He wrote a number of books under the pseudonym V. Ropshin and the poetry anthology I reference referred to him by that name rather than by his real name. I’ve put both surnames in the reference below so those who need it can choose which they feel is more fitting.

Ropshin (Boris Viktorovich Savinkov), born into the family of a public prosecutor under the Tsar, became a legendary figure, a kind of Count of Monte Cristo of Russian revolutionary terrorism. After studying law for two years at St. Petersburg University, he was expelled for political activity and completed his education in Heidelberg. He quickly became one of the leaders of the Russian Socialist Revolutionary party and took part in assassination attempts on members of the tsarist government, in particular against Vyacheslav Plehve, the minister of the interior and chief of the gendarmes. In 1917 Ropshin became a commissar in the Provisional Government in the headquarters of the supreme commander and then a comrade to the minister of war. He fought against the Bolsheviks and then emigrated to Paris by way of Shanghai in 1920. In Warsaw in 1920 Ropshin headed the Russian Political Committee for the Struggle Against Bolshevism and took part in fighting along the Dnepr. In 1924 he returned illegally to Soviet Russia to conduct clandestine operations and was captured and thrown to his death from a window of Lubyanka prison.

Ropshin’s poetry, like his novels Pale Horse, What Never Was and Black Horse, records the phenomenal experiences of this fatalist of almost pathological daring, whose superhuman actions were entangled with a sentimental romanticism characteristic of Russian terrorists of his time. A single book of poetry was published in 1931 in an edition of one hundred copies.

Biographical information about V. Ropshin (Savinkov), p.43, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Solar Loneliness by Strannik a.k.a John (Shahovskoy) of San Francisco

here’s so much room in this world, even now,
Above the azure sea, beneath the arch of clouds.
And Everest’s blue peaks are as yet free,
And not so far invaded by vast crowds.

Yet still he flies toward the solar fire,
A tiny speck, lost in the endless blue,
An Icarus, condemned to heights unknown,
Man of our time, the loner who is new.

by Strannik (Странник)
also known as:
Archbishop John (Shahovskoy) of San Francisco
Ioann Shakhovskoy (Иоанн Шаховской)
Dmitriy Alekseyevich Shakhovskoy
(Дмитрий Алексеевич Шаховской)
translated by April FitzLyon

Additional information: I don’t know by which name and title he is most common referred to so forgive me for listing so many variations. It seems his surname is most often written as Shahovskoy although I usually see the Cyrillic ‘х‘ transliterated as ‘kh‘ elsewhere. Importantly, if somewhat obvious hopefully, he is not to be confused with St John of Shanghai and San Francisco.

Also, despite finding others, I could not find the Russian version of this poem. If you happen to know then please add a link, or copy/paste it, in the comments for others to find. Many thanks.

Archbishop John (Архиепископ Иоанн) of San Francisco was also known as prince Dmitriy Alekseyevich Shahovskoy (князь Дмитрий Алексеевич Шаховской), (1902–1989) during his lifetime. He was an officer of the White Army, wrote under the pseudonym “Strannik” (which means ‘wanderer’ in Russian), was an editor of an emigre literary journal in Paris, a Russian Orthodox monk (later archbishop of San Francisco and the West) in the Orthodox Church in America.

John (Shahovskoy), Archbishop of San Francisco was one of the many émigrés from the Russian civil war who entered a monastic life in the Orthodox Church and became a diocesan bishop in the United States. After first being consecrated Bishop of Brooklyn in the American Metropolia, he was elected Bishop of San Francisco and Western America and Archbishop in 1961, a position he held until his retirement in 1973.

There is a site showing the location of his grave with a photo of it.

The nom de plume Strannik (Russian for “Wanderer”) hints at the extraordinary breadth of the life of this child of the old aristocracy, Prince Ioann Shakhovskoy, who became a much-loved spiritual leader – the Russian Orthodox archbishop in faraway San Francisco – and a serious poet of transparent lyricism. Once in 1966 he invited the compiler on this anthology to lunch at a restaurant on the top of a hill in San Francisco. Full of self-respect and dignity he drove slowly as he bombarded the visiting Soviet poet with questions about the younger poetic generation, which he clearly admired. A strange symphony of sound grew around us and finally turned into an incessant blare. The road behind was jammed with cars forced to crawl at turtle speed because this frocked chauffeur paid no attention to the traffic around him as he kept telling over and over again of the fortune and happiness of loving poetry and the misfortune of not. (The idea of this anthology began to grow from that time).

Bishop John was not a man detached from the world; he had a lively interest in all things, from literature to politics. Poetry, however, was always the inner-most sacrament, the secret cell of his soul.

Biographical information about Strannik, p.416, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).