Out of the smoky air now are plucked down
Stars for the past week frozen in flight.
Head over heels reels the skaters' club,
Clinking its rink with the glass of the night.
Slower, slower, skater, step slow-er,
Cutting the curve as you swerve by.
Every turn a constellation
Scraped by the skate into Norway's sky.
Fetters of frozen iron shackle the air.
Hey, skaters! There it's all the same
That night is on earth with its ivory eyes
Snake-patterned like a domino game;
That the moon, like a numb retriever's tongue,
Is freezing to bars as tight as a vice;
That mouths, like forgers' mouths, are filled
Brim-full with lava of breathtaking ice.
By Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
Below is the original Russin version in Cyrillic
Цeльнoю льдинoй из дымнoсти вынутa
Стaвший с нeдeлю звeздный пoтoк.
Клуб кoнькoбeжцeв ввepxу oпpoкинут:
Чoкaeтся сo звoнкoю нoчью кaтoк.
Peжe-peжe-pe-жe ступaй, кoнькoбeжeц,
В бeгe ссeкaя шaг свысoкa.
Нa пoвopoтe сoзвeздьeм вpeжeтся
В нeбo нopвeгии скpeжeт кoнькa.
Вoздуx oкoвaн мepзлым жeлeзoм.
O кoнькoбeжцы! Тaм - всe paвнo,
Чтo, кaк глaзa сo змeиным paзpeзoм,
Нoчь нa зeмлe, и кaк кoсть дoминo;
Чтo языкoм oбoмлeвшeй лeгaвoй
Мeсяц к сeбe пpимepзaeт; чтo pты,
Кaк у фaльшивoмoнeтчикoв, - лaвoй
Дуx зaxвaтившeгo льдa нaлиты.
Here I think of the centuries,
six million of them, they say.
Yesterday a fine rain fell;
today the warmth has brought out the crowds.
After Christ, what? The molecules
are without redemption. My shadow
sunning itself on this stone
remembers the lava. Zeus looked down
on a brave world, but there was
no love there; the architecture
of their temples was less permanent
than these waves. Plato, Aristotle,
all those who furrow the calmness
of their foreheads are responsible
for the bomb. I am charmed here
by the serenity of the reflections
in the sea's mirror. It is a window
as well. What I need
now is a faith to enable me to out-stare
the grinning faces of the inmates of its asylum,
the failed experiments God put away.
by R. S. Thomas
from Frequencies (1978)
It is your lynx eyes, Asia,
That spied something in me,
Teased it out, occult
And born of stillness,
Oppessive and difficult
Like the noon heat in Termez.
As though pre-memory’s years
Flowed like lava into the mind…
As if I were drinking my own tears
From a stranger’s cupped hands.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) (1945)
from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)
translation by D. M. Thomas
Fun fact: Termez (Uzbek: Termiz/Термиз; Russian: Термез; Tajik: Тирмиз; Persian: ترمذ Termez, Tirmiz; Arabic: ترمذ Tirmidh) is a city in the southernmost part of Uzbekistan near the Hairatan border crossing of Afghanistan. It is the hottest point of Uzbekistan hence Akhmatova’s referencing it in regards to this poem’s themes when referencing the noon heat there.
In January 1893 the emirate of Bukhara gave the land of the village Pattakesar to the Russian government to build a Russian fortress and garrison and a military border fortification, where the Amu Darya river port was built.
In 1928 as part of the Soviet Union, Pattakesar was renamed and took the city’s ancient name Termez. In 1929, the village became a town. During the years of Soviet rule industrial enterprises were built and a Pedagogical Institute and a theatre were opened.