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.
translation by Boris Dralyuk and Margo Shohl Rosen
This extract is about a well known potrait of Akhmatova by Nathan Altman (1914) presented above for ease of reference. Nathan Isaevich Altman was a Jewish-Russian, Soviet, avant-garde artist, Cubist painter, stage designer and book illustrator.