Random talk has blown in
Dear unnecessary words:
The Summer Garden, Fontanka, and Neva.
Where are you flying to, words of passage?
Other people’s cities roar here.
Other people’s rivers plash.
You’re not to be taken, hidden, chased away.
But I must live – not simply reminisce.
So as not to feel pain again.
I will never go again over the snow to the river,
Hiding my cheeks in the Penza kerchief,
My mittened hand in Mother’s hand.
This was; it was and is no more.
What is gone, was swept away by the blizzard.
That’s why there is so much emptiness and light.
by Раиса Ноевна Блох
(Raisa Noevna Blokh)
translated by Nina Kossman
Принесла случайная молва…
Принесла случайная молва
Милые, ненужные слова:
Летний Сад, Фонтанка и Нева.
Вы, слова залетные, куда?
Здесь шумят чужие города
И чужая плещется вода.
Вас не взять, не спрятать, не прогнать.
Надо жить – не надо вспоминать,
Чтобы больно не было опять.
Не идти ведь по снегу к реке,
Пряча щеки в пензенском платке,
Рукавица в маминой руке.
Это было, было и прошло.
Что прошло, то вьюгой замело.
Оттого так пусто и светло.
Additional information: Raisa Noevna Blokh (Раиса Ноевна Блох), 1899–1943, was a Russian poet. (The book I referenced stated her dates as 1901 – 1943 but the Wikipedia pages cite 1899-1943). She was born in the family of attorney at law Noy Lvovich Bloch (1850-1911) and Dora Yakovlevna Malkiel (from the well-known merchant family Malkiel) which meant she was of Jewish descent (but I cannot confirm if she practiced the faith).
She emigrated to Berlin in the 1920s where she was active in the Berlin Poets’ Club along with her husband Mikhail Gorlin. Blokh published her poetry in several Russian émigré literary journals including Sovremennye zapiski and Chisla.
The exact circumstances of Blokh‘s death remain unknown (although the Russian Wikipedia page claims it to be either Drancy or Auschwitz). But it is certain both she and Gorlin perished after being arrested by German forces during the Second World War.
Little is known of Raisa Blokh’s life, but it is known that she died in one of Hitler’s concentration camps. While an émigré she developed her modest but unique poetic gifts, which combine the transparency of utter simplicity with subtle finesse. The enormously popular émigré poet-singer Vertinsky set her lyrics to music. Blokh’s work was first published in the Soviet Union in 1988 in the magazine Ogoniok.Biographical information about Blokh, p.401, ‘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).
Editor’s note: A silly story possibly of mild interest. Just to double check things I put the poet’s name into Google Translate and Блох came out as ‘Bloch’, similar to the American author Robert Bloch, rather than ‘Blokh’. I only note it out of concern that this is a recent development in transliteration (rather than just Google Translate being it’s usual self) which will cause some confusion if the distinct Cyrillic letters ‘х’ (‘ch’ in the Scottish ‘loch’ as my dictionary describes it) and ‘ч’ (ch’ as in cheese) get conflated with each other by those trying to look her name up.