Зимняя ночь (Winter Night) by Boris Pasternak

Snow, snow, all the world over,

Snow to the world’s end swirling,

A candle was burning on the table,

A candle burning.

.

As midges swarming in summer

Fly to the candle flame,

The snowflakes swarming outside

Flew at the window frame.

.

The blizzard etched on the window

Frosty patterning.

A candle was burning on the table,

A candle burning.

.

The lighted ceiling carried

A shadow frieze:

Entwining hands, entwining feet,

Entwining destinies.

.

And two little shoes dropped,

Thud, from the mattress.

And candle wax like tears dropped

On an empty dress.

.

And all was lost in a tunnel

Of grey snow churning.

A candle was burning on the table,

A candle burning.

.

And when a draught flattened the flame,

Temptation blazed

And like a fiery angel raised

Two cross-shaped wings.

.

All February the snow fell

And sometimes till morning

A candle was burning on the table,

A candle burning.

.

.

By Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к

(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)

(Poem from Dr Zhivago)

(1948)

translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France

A recital of Pasternak’s poem set to music by Boris Vetrov and accompanied by photos of sculptural works by Auguste Rodin. The recital begins at 1:30.

Beneath is the original Cyrillic version of the poem.

Зимняя ночь

Мело, мело по всей земле
Во все пределы.
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

Как летом роем мошкара
Летит на пламя,
Слетались хлопья со двора
К оконной раме.

Метель лепила на стекле
Кружки и стрелы.
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

На озаренный потолок
Ложились тени,
Скрещенья рук, скрещенья ног,
Судьбы скрещенья.

И падали два башмачка
Со стуком на пол.
И воск слезами с ночника
На платье капал.

И все терялось в снежной мгле
Седой и белой.
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

На свечку дуло из угла,
И жар соблазна
Вздымал, как ангел, два крыла
Крестообразно.

Мело весь месяц в феврале,
И то и дело
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

Robin by R. S. Thomas

Dawn. The robin

crumbles his song

into a few pieces

for our Communion.

And humbly we accept;

we need the sacrament

of the Real Presence

if we are to continue

to believe. Pure

spirit is a refraction

only. It is the rainbow

in life’s spray that,

when we put our starved hand

into, lets our hand through.

.

But this wafer of song

we touch with the tip

of our belief, is it not

the pearl without price

we were told of and

have come upon that

we must give up all

our payments on a hire-purchase

happiness to make our own?

.

.

By R. S. Thomas

from Unpublished Poems

Дождь (Rain) by Boris Pasternak

Inscription on the ‘Book of the Steppe’

.

She’s here with me. Come strum, pour, laugh,

Tear the twilight through and through!

Drown, flow down, an epigraph

To a love like you!

.

Scurry like a silk-worm

And beat the window’s drum.

Combine, entwine,

And let the darkness come!

.

Noon midnight, cloudburst – come for her!

Walking home, soaked to the skin!

Whole tree-loads of water

On eyes, cheeks, jasmin!

.

Hosanna to Egyptian darkness!

Drops chuckle, slide, collide,

And suddenly the air smells new

As to patients who’ve come through.

.

Let’s run and pluck – as from guitars

Guitarists pluck a phrase –

The garden Saint-Gothard

Washed with a lime-tree haze.

.

.

By Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к

(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)

from Сестра моя — жизнь (My Sister, Life)

(Summer 1917)

translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France

.

Beneath is the original Russian version of the poem in Cyrillic.

.

Дождь

Надпись на “Книге степи”

Она со мной. Наигрывай,
Лей, смейся, сумрак рви!
Топи, теки эпиграфом
К такой, как ты, любви!

Снуй шелкопрядом тутовым
И бейся об окно.
Окутывай, опутывай,
Еще не всклянь темно!

– Ночь в полдень, ливень — гребень ей!
На щебне, взмок — возьми!
И — целыми деревьями
В глаза, в виски, в жасмин!

Осанна тьме египетской!
Хохочут, сшиблись, — ниц!
И вдруг пахнуло выпиской
Из тысячи больниц.

Теперь бежим сощипывать,
Как стон со ста гитар,
Омытый мглою липовой
Садовый Сен-Готард.

Не выходи из комнаты (Don’t Leave The Room) by Joseph Brodsky

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.

.

by Иосиф Александрович Бродский

(Joseph Aleksandrovich Brodsky a.k.a. Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky)

(1970)

translated by ??? (I’ve lost track of who did this translation so any aid in attributing the appropriate credit would be greatly appreciated)

Brodsky reciting his poem in Russian

Beneath is the original Russian version of the poem in Cyrillic.

Не выходи из комнаты

Не выходи из комнаты, не совершай ошибку.
Зачем тебе Солнце, если ты куришь Шипку?
За дверью бессмысленно все, особенно — возглас счастья.
Только в уборную — и сразу же возвращайся.

О, не выходи из комнаты, не вызывай мотора.
Потому что пространство сделано из коридора
и кончается счетчиком. А если войдет живая
милка, пасть разевая, выгони не раздевая.

Не выходи из комнаты; считай, что тебя продуло.
Что интересней на свете стены и стула?
Зачем выходить оттуда, куда вернешься вечером
таким же, каким ты был, тем более — изувеченным?

О, не выходи из комнаты. Танцуй, поймав, боссанову
в пальто на голое тело, в туфлях на босу ногу.
В прихожей пахнет капустой и мазью лыжной.
Ты написал много букв; еще одна будет лишней.

Не выходи из комнаты. О, пускай только комната
догадывается, как ты выглядишь. И вообще инкогнито
эрго сум, как заметила форме в сердцах субстанция.
Не выходи из комнаты! На улице, чай, не Франция.

Не будь дураком! Будь тем, чем другие не были.
Не выходи из комнаты! То есть дай волю мебели,
слейся лицом с обоями. Запрись и забаррикадируйся
шкафом от хроноса, космоса, эроса, расы, вируса.

Another recital of the poem by the Russian actor and activist Алексей Девотченко (Alexei Devotchenko)

Additional Information:

Here is an interesting article, with an alternative translation of this poem, by Alexandra Berlina regarding Brodsky and the timeliness of this poem at the moment.

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.

Alexandra Berlina

‘God’s fool, God’s jester’ by R. S. Thomas

God’s fool, God’s jester

capering at his right hand

in torment, proving the fallacy

of the impassible, reminding

him of omnipotence’s limits.

.

I have seen the figure

on our human tree, burned

into it by thought’s lightning

and it writhed as I looked.

.

A god had no alternative

but himself. With what crown

plurality but with thorns?

Whose is the mirthless laughter

at the beloved irony

at his side? The universe over,

omniscience warns, the crosses

are being erected from such

material as is available

to remorse. What are the stars

but time’s fires going out

before ever the crucified

can be taken down?

Today

there is only this one option

before me. Remembering,

as one goes out into space,

on the way to the sun,

how dark it will grow,

I stare up into the darkness

of his countenance, knowing it

a reflection of the three days and nights

at the back of love’s looking-

glass even a god must spend.

.

.

by R. S. Thomas

from Counterpoint; 3. Crucifixion (1990)