In the cold season, in a locality accustomed to heat more than to cold, to horizontality more than to a mountain, a child was born in a cave in order to save the world; it blew as only in deserts in winter it blows, athwart.
To Him, all things seemed enormous: His mother’s breast, the steam out of the ox’s nostrils, Caspar, Balthazar, Melchior – the team of Magi, their presents heaped by the door, ajar. He was but a dot, and a dot was the star.
Keenly, without blinking, through pallid, stray clouds, upon the child in the manger, from far away – from the depth of the universe, from its opposite end – the star was looking into the cave. And that was the Father’s stare.
By Иосиф Александрович Бродский (Joseph Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky a.k.a. Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky) (December 1987) translated by the author, Brodsky, himself
В холодную пору, в местности, привычной скорей к жаре, чем к холоду, к плоской поверхности более, чем к горе, младенец родился в пещере, чтоб мир спасти: мело, как только в пустыне может зимой мести.
Ему все казалось огромным: грудь матери, желтый пар из воловьих ноздрей, волхвы — Балтазар, Гаспар, Мельхиор; их подарки, втащенные сюда. Он был всего лишь точкой. И точкой была звезда.
Внимательно, не мигая, сквозь редкие облака, на лежащего в яслях ребенка издалека, из глубины Вселенной, с другого ее конца, звезда смотрела в пещеру. И это был взгляд Отца.
Don’t leave the room, don’t blunder, do not go on. If you’re smoking Shipka, what good is the Sun? Outside, all is meaningless, especially – the cry of joy. To the lavatory and back straightaway, old boy.
O, don’t leave the room, don’t call for a cab, my friend. Because Space is a corridor that will end with a meter. And, if your dear, delight expressing, walks inside, kick her out without undressing.
Don’t leave the room; pretend that you have a cold. Four walls and a chair entice like nothing else in the world. Why leave the place that you’ll surely return to late in the night, as you were, only more – mutilated?
O, don’t leave the room. Enchanted, dance bossa nova in shoes worn on bare feet, in a coat draped over your naked body. The hall reeks of ski wax and cabbage. You’ve written a lot; more would be extra baggage.
Don’t leave the room. Let only the room imagine a little what you might look like. And besides, incognito ergo sum, as form itself learned from substance once. Don’t leave the room! Outside, you will not find France.
Don’t be a fool! Be what others weren’t. Remain. Don’t leave the room! Let the furniture have free reign, blend in with wallpaper. Bolt the door, barricade in place with a dresser from chronos, cosmos, eros, virus, race.
In particular this translation note, from the article, where she discusses the choices faced in expressing wordplay successfully to an audience unlikely to be familiar with the original cultural context:
…the original second line says ‘Why should you need the sun (solntse) if you smoke Shipka?’ Both Solntse and Shipka were brands of Bulgarian cigarettes. I decided against attempts along the lines of ‘You read The Guardian, why should you need the sun?’, Brodsky being a Russian chain smoker rather than a British liberal.