They Played Pushkin On A Grand Piano by Sergey Chudakov

They played Pushkin on a grand piano.

They killed Pushkin in a duel one day.

He had asked them for a plate of cloudberries

and, lying near a bookshelf, passed away.


In icy water, full of frozen clods,

they buried Pushkin, hallowed be his name.

And we too tend to meet too many bullets;

we hang ourselves, and open up our veins.


All too often we are hit by cars,

get tossed down stairwells in a drunken state.

We live – and all our petty intrigues

wound little Pushkin in some way.


Little, cast in iron, celebrated –

in a park deserted thanks to frost –

he stands (his understudy and replacement),

bitterly regretful at the loss


of youth, and of the title Kammerjunker,

of songs, of glory, of the girls in Kishinyov,

of Goncharova in her white lace petticoat,

and of death that cannot be shrugged off.


by Сергей Иванович Чудаков (Sergeĭ Ivanovich Chudakov)

translated by Boris Dralyuk


Muse by Anna Akhmatova

When at night I wait for her to come,

Life, it seems, hangs by a single strand.

What are glory, youth, freedom, in comparison

With the dear welcome guest, a flute in hand?


She enters now. Pushing her veil aside,

She stares through me with her attentiveness.

I question her: ‘And were you Dante’s guide,

Dictating the Inferno?’ She answers: ‘Yes.’


by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1924)

from Тростник (Cane) / Из шести книг (From the Six Books)

translation by D. M. Thomas