We need flowers to lay on coffins,
but coffins tell us we are flowers
and last no longer than a flower.
by Велимир Хлебников (Velimir Khlebnikov)
a.k.a. Виктор Владимирович Хлебников
(Viktor Vladimirovich Khlebnikov)
translated by Robert Chandler
For O. A. Glebova-Sudeikina
What do you see on the wall, your eyes screwed up,
When in the sky the sunset’s burning late?
Do you see a seagull on the water’s blue
Cloth, or gardens by the Arno?
Or the great lake of Tsarkoye Selo
Where terror stepped in front of you?
Or the young man who left your captivity, left
You by walking into death like a white knight?
No, I am looking only at the wall’s
Reflections of the dying heavenly fires.
– by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1913, June, Slepnyovo)
– from Четки (Rosary, 1914), translation by D. M. Thomas