‘The Smokey Blotches Of The Neighbours’ Windows…’ by Georgy Ivanov

The smokey blotches of the neighbours’ windows,

and windswept roses bending, drawing breath –

if I could think that life is but a dream,

that we cannot help waking after death.

 

To wait in heaven – heaven is so blue –

to wait in that cool bliss without a care.

And then, never to part with you.

With you for ever. Do you see? For ever…

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

(1958)

translated by Boris Dralyuk

To Alexander Pushkin by Georgy Ivanov

I dearly, dearly long to be with you,

to sit and chat with you, drink tea with you.

 

You’d do the talking – I would be all ears;

your voice grows ever dearer with the years.

 

You, too, knew grief and fury and disdain;

you, too, died slowly, slowly and in pain.

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

(1958)

by Robert Chandler

‘Spring Exultation, Nightingales, The Moon…’ by Georgy Ivanov

Spring exultation, nightingales, the moon

on southern seas – they make my poor head spin

with boredom. More than that. I disappear.

The real me lives elsewhere. Far to the north.

 

Berlin, poor Russian Paris, filthy Nice –

a dream from which I soon will find release.

 

Petersburg. Winter, Gumilyov and I

walk by an ice-bound Neva, bright with snow.

The river Lethe. Side by side, we walk

and talk as poets did, so long ago.

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

(1958)

translated by Robert Chandler


 

Fun Fact: Gumilyov of course refers to the poet Nikolay Stepanovich Gumilyov (Николай Степанович Гумилёв) who was executed by the Petrograd Cheka in 1921. Neva to the river Neva which runs through St Petersburg (also known as Petrograd or Leningrad) while Lethe is one of the five rivers running through Hades, the underworld populated by the dead, in Greek mythology.

‘Thirty Years Now Russia’s Lived In Fetters…’ by Georgy Ivanov

Thirty years now Russia’s lived in fetters,

in Magadan, in Kolyma –

but the Russia that will live for ever

is the one now dying in Kolyma.

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

(1947)

translated by Robert Chandler


 

Fun fact: Due to the mention of Kolyma you might mistakenly think this is referencing Varlam Shalamov‘s Kolyma Tales but those were written from 1954 to 1973.

‘Nothing, Nothing Will Be Returned…’ by Georgy Ivanov

Nothing, nothing will be returned;

love, forgiveness – unearned, unlearned;

though we can never learn to forget.

 

Sweet is the sleep of an alien land.

We sense spring, hear the sea’s even sound

in this world of eternal torment.

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

(1949)

translated by Robert Chandler