I Went Out In The Clear Air by Varlam Shalamov

I went out in the clear air

and raised my eyes to the heavens

to understand our stars

and their January brilliance.


I found the key to the riddle;

I grasped the heiroglyph’s secret;

I carried into our own tongue

the work of the star-poet.


I recorded all this on a stump,

on frozen bark,

since I had no paper with me

in that January dark.


by Варлам Тихонович Шаламов (Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov)


translated by Robert Chandler