Последнею усталостью устав (Filled with the final weariness…) by Boris Slutsky

Filled with the final weariness
Seized with the exhaustion before dying
His big hands limply spread
A soldier lies.
He could lie differently –
Could lie beside his wife, in his own bed,
Not tearing at the mosses drenched with blood.
But could he? Could he?
No, he could not.
The Ministry sent him his call-up notice,
Officers were with him, marched beside him.
The court-martial’s typewriters clattered in the rear.
But even without them, could he?
Hardly.
Without a call-up, he’d have gone himself.
And not from fear: from conscience, and for honor.
Weltering in his blood, the soldier lying
Has no complaint, and no thought of complaining.

by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий
(Boris Abramovich Slutsky)
translated by J. R. Rowland

Последнею усталостью устав

Последнею усталостью устав,
Предсмертным умиранием охвачен,
Большие руки вяло распластав,
Лежит солдат.
Он мог лежать иначе,
Он мог лежать с женой в своей постели,
Он мог не рвать намокший кровью мох,
Он мог…
Да мог ли? Будто? Неужели?
Нет, он не мог.
Ему военкомат повестки слал.
С ним рядом офицеры шли, шагали.
В тылу стучал машинкой трибунал.
А если б не стучал, он мог?
Едва ли.
Он без повесток, он бы сам пошел.
И не за страх — за совесть и за почесть.
Лежит солдат — в крови лежит, в большой,
А жаловаться ни на что не хочет.

Additional information: Бори́с Абра́мович Слу́цкий (Boris Slutsky) (7 May 1919 in Slovyansk, Ukraine – 23 February 1986 in Tula) was a Soviet poet of the Russian language.

Slutsky’s father was a white-collar worker and his mother a teacher. He went to school in Kharkov and from 1937 he studied in Moscow, first in law school and then at the Gorky Literary Institute. During World War II he made friends with many of the poets who were to die in the war and was himself severely wounded. Though he published some poetry in 1941, he did not publish again until after Stalin’s death in 1953. Ilya Ehrenburg wrote an article in 1956 adovicating that a collection of Slutsky’s work be published. He created a sensation by quoting many unknown poems. Discussings Slutsky’s poetry, Mikhail Svetlov said, “Of one thing I am sure – here is a poet who writes better than we all do.”

Slutsky’s first collection, Pamiat’ (Memory) (1957), immediately established his reputation as a poet. His most celebrated poems are “Kelnskaia iama” (The Pit of Cologne) and “Loshadi v okeane” (Horses in the Sea). His poems “Bog” (God) and “Khozain” (The Boss) sharply criticized Stalin even before the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956.

Slutsky’s poetry is deliberately coarse, prosaic, and always distinctive. He evoked many imitators and much ridicule, but he also taught many of the postwar generation of poets. During the scandalous attacks on Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago in 1959, Slutsky unexpectedly came out against Pasternak. It was a crucial error. Many of his admirers turned their backs on him, but, more important, he never forgave himself. When he died, he left so much poetry unpublished that almost every month for several years new poems appeared in magazines and newspapers.

Biographical information about Slutsky, p.689, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).
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Водосточные трубы (Downpipes) by Novella Nikolayevna Matveyeva

Evening rain

Through the downpipes

Damp walls

Green mould and moss.

Ah, those pipes –

With their round mouths

They gossip to strangers

Their houses’ secrets.

.

Downpipes

Your secrets give me no pleasure,

Rusty pipes

Stop telling tales –

I don’t know you

I don’t want your secrets

Knowing secrets

It’s hard to dream dreams, or to love.

.

Yes, I believe

That behind this door

Or that window

There’s injustice, and loss, and deceit,

I believe you!

But somehow I don’t believe

And smile

At these stone-built houses.

.

I believe in hope

Even if it seems hopeless

I believe, even,

In a vain, quite impossible dream –

I see the beautiful town

In white mist

In dark evening rain.

.

Poor downpipes

You’re old –

All your mould

Is just the first bloom on your lips.

You’re still old:

But we have grown young

Although we have known

The oldest pain.

.

Evening rain

Through the downpipes.

Damp walls

Green mould and moss.

Ah, those pipes –

Making round mouths

They gossip to strangers

Their houses’ secrets.

.

.

By Новелла Николаевна Матвеева

(Novella Nikolayevna Matveyeva)

(1965)

Translated by J. R. Rowland

A performance of the piece by Novella Matveyeva (with repetition of certain lines).

Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.

Водосточные трубы

Дождь, дождь вечерний сквозь водосточные трубы.
Мокрые стены, зеленая плесень да мох...
Ах, эти трубы! Сделали трубочкой губы,
Чтобы прохожим выболтать тайны домов.

Трубы вы, трубы, - я вашим тайнам не рада.
Ржавые трубы, вы бросьте про тайны трубить!
Я вас не знаю, мне ваших секретов не надо:
Зная секреты, трудно мечтать и любить.

Верю, ах, верю тому, что за этою дверью
И в том окошке измена, обида, обман...
Верю, ах, верю! - но почему-то...не верю.
И улыбаюсь каменным этим домам.

Верю надежде, даже как будто напрасной,
Даже напрасной, совсем невозможной мечте...
Вижу я город, вижу я город прекрасный
В белом тумане, в черном вечернем дожде.

Трубы вы, трубы, - Бедные! - Вы еще стары.
Вся ваша плесень - лишь первый пушок над губой.
Вы еще стары, а мы уже юными стали,
Хоть мы узнали самую старую боль.

...Дождь, дождь вечерний сквозь водосточные трубы;
Мокрые стены, зеленая плесень да мох...
Ах, эти трубы! Сделали трубочкой губы,
Чтобы прохожим выболтать тайны домов.

Jealousy by Inna Lisnianskaya

I look out the window at the retreating back.

Your jealousy is both touching and comical.

Can’t you see I am old and scary, a witch,

and apart from you no one needs me at all!

 

Well, what’s so touching and funny in that?

Jealous, you’re keen to send all of them packing

away from our home, with it’s roof’s mossy coat,

and our life which consists entirely of sacking.

 

But they do not desist, out of kindness of sorts –

from scraping away the moss, checking a rafter,

and they bring flowers as well, to thank me

for your still being alive and so well looked after.

 

And they stay away with something else, a notion

of how to survive as the years advance

and still be loved, and, with time running out,

to listen to eulogies, fresher than the news.

 

And my attachment, the truth of my love, no less,

they envy. So keep your jealousy buttoned up!

In this world, with its surfeit of painful loss,

let me open the door with a smile on my lips.

 

by Инна Львовна Лиснянская (Inna Lvovna Lisnyanskaya)

(2001)

translated by Daniel Weissbort


She was the wife of Semyon Lipkin. The above poem was written shortly before his death.

There isn’t much about her in English so if you want to know more you may have to research her husband intially and work from there for biographical details. However one collection of her poetic works titled ‘Far from Sodom‘ is available in English should you wish to read more of her writing.

She was born in Baku and published her first collection in 1957 then moved to Moscow three years later. In 1979 she and her husband resigned from the Union of Soviet Writers in protest to the expulsion of Viktor Yerofeyev and Yevgeny Popov from it. The following seven years her works were only published abroad though from 1986 she was able to publish regularly and was awarded several important prizes.