Сосны (Pine Trees) by Boris Pasternak

In grass, among wild balsam,
Dog-dasies and lilies, we lie,
Our arms thrown back behind us,
Our faces turned to the sky.

The grass in the pine-wood ride
Is impenetrably thick.
We look at each other and shift
A shoulder-blade or a cheek.

And there, for a time immortal,
We are numbered among the trees
And liberated from aches,
Disease, and the last disease.

With deliberate monotony,
Like blue oil from green eaves,
The sky pours down on the ground,
Dappling and staining our sleeves.

We share the repose of the pines
To the ant’s accompaniment,
Inhaling the soporific
Incense-and-lemon scent.

So fiercely the fiery trunks
Leap up against the blue,
And under our resting heads
So long our hands rest too,

So broad our field of vision,
So docile all things on all sides,
That somewhere beyond the trunks
I imagine the surge of tides.

There waves are higher than branches,
And collapsing against the shore
They hurl down a hail of shrimps
From the ocean’s turbulent floor.

And at evening, the sunset floats
On corks behind a trawler
And, shimmering with fish oil
And amber mist, grows smaller.

Twilight descends and slowly
The moon hides all trace of day
Beneath the black magic of water,
Beneath the white magic of spray.

And waves grow louder and higher
And the crowd at the floating café
Surrounds the pillar whose poster
Is a blur from far away.

.

by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к

(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)

from On Early Trains

(1941)

translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France

A recital of the poem in Russian. Read by E. Pasternak

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

Сосны

В траве, меж диких бальзаминов,
Ромашек и лесных купав,
Лежим мы, руки запрокинув
И к небу головы задрав.

Трава на просеке сосновой
Непроходима и густа.
Мы переглянемся и снова
Меняем позы и места.

И вот, бессмертные на время,
Мы к лику сосен причтены
И от болезней, эпидемий
И смерти освобождены.

С намеренным однообразьем,
Как мазь, густая синева
Ложится зайчиками наземь
И пачкает нам рукава.

Мы делим отдых краснолесья,
Под копошенье мураша
Сосновою снотворной смесью
Лимона с ладаном дыша.

И так неистовы на синем
Разбеги огненных стволов,
И мы так долго рук не вынем
Из-под заломленных голов,

И столько широты во взоре,
И так покорны все извне,
Что где-то за стволами море
Мерещится все время мне.

Там волны выше этих веток
И, сваливаясь с валуна,
Обрушивают град креветок
Со взбаламученного дна.

А вечерами за буксиром
На пробках тянется заря
И отливает рыбьим жиром
И мглистой дымкой янтаря.

Смеркается, и постепенно
Луна хоронит все следы
Под белой магией пены
И черной магией воды.

А волны все шумней и выше,
И публика на поплавке
Толпится у столба с афишей,
Неразличимой вдалеке.

At the End by R. S. Thomas

Few possessions: a chair,
a table, a bed,
to say my prayers by,
and, gathered from the shore,
the bone-like, crossed sticks
proving that nature
acknowledges the Crucifixion.
All night I am at
a window not too small
to be frame to the stars
that are no further off
than the city lights
I have rejected. By day
the passers-by who are not
pilgrims, stare through the rain’s
bars, seeing me as prisoner
of the one view, I who
have been made free
by the tide’s pendulum truth
that the heart that is low now
will be at the full tomorrow.

by R. S. Thomas
from No Truce With The Furies (1995)

Папиросники (Cigarette Pedlars) by Sergey Yesenin

Avenues so wretched,

snowbanks, bitter frost.

Desperate little urchins

with trays of cigarettes.

Wandering dirty avenues,

enjoying evil games –

all of them are pickpockets,

all are jolly thieves.

That bunch takes Nikitskaya,

this – Tverskaya Square.

They stand, sombrely whistling,

the livelong day out there.

They dash to all the barrooms

and, with some time to spare,

they pore over Pinkerton

out loud over a beer.

Let the beer be bitter –

beer or not, they’re soused.

All rave about New York,

all dream of San Frantsisk…

Then again, so wretchedly,

they walk out in the frost –

desperate little urchins

with trays of cigarettes.

.

.

by Сергей Александрович Есенин (Sergei Alexandrovich Yesenin)

a.k.a. Sergey Yesenin / Esenin

(1923)

translated by Boris Dralyuk

.

A recital of the poem by the actor Кирилл Радциг (Kirill Radzig).

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

Папиросники

Улицы печальные,
Сугробы да мороз.
Сорванцы отчаянные
С лотками папирос.
Грязных улиц странники
В забаве злой игры,
Все они — карманники,
Веселые воры.
Тех площадь — на Никитской,
А этих — на Тверской.
Стоят с тоскливым свистом
Они там день-деньской.
Снуют по всем притонам
И, улучив досуг,
Читают Пинкертона
За кружкой пива вслух.
Пускай от пива горько,
Они без пива — вдрызг.
Все бредят Нью-Йорком,
Всех тянет в Сан-Франциск.
Потом опять печально
Выходят на мороз
Сорванцы отчаянные
С лотками папирос.

.

Information:

Nikitskaya is a radial street that runs west from Mokhovaya Street to Garden Ring in Moscow, between Vozdvizhenka Street (south) and Tverskaya Street (north).

Tverskaya Square is a square in Central Administrative Okrug in Moscow. Belorussky railway station faces the square. The streets which terminate at the square are, in counterclockwise order, Leningradsky Avenue, Gruzinsky Val, 2nd Brestskaya Street, 1st Brestskaya Street, 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street, Lesnaya Street, and Butyrsky Val.

Pinkerton likely references to Allan J. Pinkerton (25 August 1819 – 1 July 1884) who was a Scottish–American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. He produced numerous popular detective books, ostensibly based on his own exploits and those of his agents. Some were published after his death, and they are considered to have been more motivated by a desire to promote his detective agency than a literary endeavour. Most historians believe that Allan Pinkerton hired ghostwriters, but the books nonetheless bear his name and no doubt reflect his views.

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