Dreadful! It drips and it listens -
whether it's all alone in the world crushing a twig like lace at the window, or is someone watching? Palpable, though, is the pressure of porous earth's taut swellings, and far off, audible as in August, midnight ripens in fields. No, no sound, no witness, Convincing there's no one there, back it goes to its game of rolling down roofs and across gutters. I'll lift it up to my lips and listen - whether I'm all alone in the world, ready to burst out in sobs if I need to, or is someone watching? Silence. Not a leaf moving. No dot of light, just weird gulps and splashings about in slippers, the lulls full of sighs and tears. By Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к (Boris Leonidovich Pasternak) (1917) translated by Angela Livingstone
A recital of the poem in Russian:
Below is the poem in it’s original Russian cyrillic form:
Ужасный! — Капнет и вслушается, Все он ли один на свете Мнет ветку в окне, как кружевце, Или есть свидетель. Но давится внятно от тягости Отеков — земля ноздревая, И слышно: далеко, как в августе, Полуночь в полях назревает. Ни звука. И нет соглядатаев. В пустынности удостоверясь, Берется за старое — скатывается По кровле, за желоб и через. К губам поднесу и прислушаюсь, Все я ли один на свете, — Готовый навзрыд при случае, — Или есть свидетель. Но тишь. И листок не шелохнется. Ни признака зги, кроме жутких Глотков и плескания в шлепанцах И вздохов и слез в промежутке.
No one will be in the house
But twilight. Just the same Winter day in the gap The gathered curtains frame. Only swiftly beating wings Of white flakes as they fall. Only roofs and snow, and but For roofs and snow – no one at all. And frost again will start too sketch. And I again will find despairs Of last year whirling me back To another winter's affairs. And they again will sting me With last year's guilt, the same, Unexpiated. Lack of wood Will cramp the window-frame. Then suddenly the curtain Will shudder at the door And you will come in, like the future, Making no sound on the floor. And you will stand there wearing Something white, no lace, no braid, Something made from the fabric From which snowflakes are made. by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к (Boris Leonidovich Pasternak) (1931) translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
He strokes my neck like the barrel of a rifle
he might have killed that German with, his boots by the door, susceptible to the cold. I glow by the fire in tandem with the rosewood dresser, impartial to flames, me with a passion for granite, him with his head shaved against the night, shedding his armour plate by plate. I sleep under his shield, enfolded in an English flag I think will become my shroud. While I thrill among the lilies, placing a chestnut on the grate like a move in chess, I see the incentive of lace defeat artillery hands down. by Samantha Wynne Rhydderch
Interesting info: Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, sometimes referred to as S. W. Rhydderch, has published two collections, Rockclimbing in Silk (Seren, 2001), and Not in These Shoes (Picador, 2008), which was shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2009.
It is said that he went gaily to that scaffold,
dressed magnificently as a bridegroom,
his lace lying on him like white frost
in the windless morning of his courage.
His red blood was the water of life,
changed to wine at the wedding banquet;
the bride Scotland, the spirit dependent on
such for the consummation of her marrriage.
R. S. Thomas
(1975) Laboratories of the Spirit
Fun fact: This poem is about
a Scottish nobleman, poet and soldier, who initially joined the James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, Covenanters in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, but subsequently supported King Charles I as the English Civil War developed. From 1644 to 1646, and again in 1650, he fought in the civil war in Scotland on behalf of the King and is generally referred to in Scotland as simply “the Great Montrose”. His spectacular victories, which took his opponents by surprise, are remembered in military history for their tactical brilliance
Until this summer
throught the open roof of the car
their lace was as light as rain
against the burning sun.
On a rose-coloured road
they laid their inks,
knew exactly, in the seed,
where in the sky they would reach
Traffic-jammed under a square
of perfect blue I thirst
for their lake’s fingering
shadow, trunk by trunk arching
a cloister between the parks
and pillars of a civic architecture,
older and taller than all of it.
Heat is a salt encrustation.
Walls square up to the sky
without the company of leaves
or the town life of birds.
At the roadside this enormous
firewood, elmwood, the start
of some terrible undoing.
(1982) Letters from a Far Country