Shape Ships To Seek by Vladislav Khodasevich

Shape ships to seek some shining shore,

or, if you choose, chirp chants in churches.

But seize your chance – shout one shy cheer,

and shoot up starwards, sharp and sheer…

I shift the chairs – a cheerless chore…

What tosh you chunter in these searches

for shoes and spectacles, to be sure!


by Владислав Фелицианович Ходасевич (Vladislav Felitsianovich Khodasevich)


translated by Michael Frayn


To A Guest by Vladislav Khodasevich

Bring visions when you ring my bell

or all the loveliness of hell,

of God, if you belong to that band.

But little acts of meaning well –

just leave them outside on the hat stand.


On this small pea in endless space

be shining angel or be demon.

But not mere man, though, for to be one

is to pass by and leave no trace.


by Владислав Фелицианович Ходасевич (Vladislav Felitsianovich Khodasevich)


translated by Michael Frayn

Plainsong by Vladislav Khodasevich

Choke all week in the fumes and air stinking

of fear, for the bare means of life;

spend the Saturday dozing and drinking,

with your arm round an unlovely wife.


Then on Sunday by train for an outing,

with a rug to spread out on the grass,

just to doze off again, never doubting,

that for pleasure this stands unsurpassed.


And then wake up and put on your jacket,

drag the rug and wife back to the flat,

and not once curse the rug and attack it

with your fists. The world, too. Look, like that!


With the same kind of modest expression

do the bubbles in soda ascend,

in a meek and well-ordered procession,

up and up, one by one, to their end.


by Владислав Фелицианович Ходасевич (Vladislav Felitsianovich Khodasevich)


translated by Michael Frayn

Памятник (The Monument) by Vladislav Khodasevich

I am an end and a beginning.

So little spun from all my spinning!

I’ve been a firm link nonetheless;

with that good fortune I’ve been blessed.


New Russia enters on her greatness;

they’ll carve my head two-faced, like Janus,

at crossroads, looking down both ways,

where wind and sand, and many days…


by Владислав Фелицианович Ходасевич (Vladislav Felitsianovich Khodasevich)

translated by Michael Frayn

A Childhood Memory by Sofia Parnok

for Khodasevich


A childhood memory: those pears,

wrinkled. little, tight,

and hidden inside –

tart flesh that puckered the mouth:

exactly so my delight

in the bitter shards of your verse.


by София Яковлевна Парнок (Sophia Yakovlena Parnok) (1927)

translated by Catriona Kelly