Эхо (Echo) by Anna Akhmatova

The roads to the past have long been closed,

and what is the past to me now?

What is there? Bloody slabs,

or a bricked up door,

or an echo that still could not

keep quiet, although I ask so…

The same thing happened with the echo

as with what I carry in my heart.

_

by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

(1960)

translation by Richard McKane

A reading of the poem by http://www.staroeradio.ru

Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.

Эхо

В прошлое давно пути закрыты,
И на что мне прошлое теперь?
Что там? — окровавленные плиты,
Или замурованная дверь,
Или эхо, что еще не может
Замолчать, хотя я так прошу…
С этим эхом приключилось то же,
Что и с тем, что в сердце я ношу.

From A Suburban Window by Dannie Abse

Such afternoon glooms, such clouds chimney low –
London, the clouds want to move but can not,
London, the clouds want to rain but can not –
such negatives of a featureless day:
the street empty but for a van passing,
an afternoon smudged by old afternoons.
Soon, despite railings, evening will come
from a great distance trailing evenings.
Meantime, unemployed sadness loiters here.

Quite suddenly, six mourners appear:
a couple together, then three stout men,
then one more, lagging behind, bare-headed.
Not one of them touches the railings.
They walk on and on remembering days,
yet seem content. They employ the décor.
They use this grey inch of eternity,
and the afternoon, so praised, grows distinct.

by Dannie Abse
from A Small Desperation (1968)

Импровизация (Improvisation) by Boris Pasternak

I was feeding the flock of keys out of my hand
To a beating of wings. I was standing on tiptoe,
My hands reaching out to the splashing and screaming
My sleeve was rolled up and night brushed my elbow.

And it was pitch dark. And there was a pond
And waves. And the love-birds and suchlike, it seemed,
Would surely be pecked to death long before those
Whose black, strident, savage beaks screamed.

And there was a pond. And it was pitch dark
Except where the lilies like torches were flickering.
A wave was gnawing the planks of the dinghy.
And birds at my elbow were snapping and bickering.

Night rattled like phlegm in the throats of the ponds.
The fledgling had yet to be fed, it seemed,
And the females would peck it to death long before
The roulades would cease in the gullet that screamed.

by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
(1916)
from Поверх барьеров
(Over The Barriers)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France

A reading of the poem in Russian.

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

Импровизация  
 
Я клавишей стаю кормил с руки
Под хлопанье крыльев, плеск и клекот.
Я вытянул руки, я встал на носки,
Рукав завернулся, ночь терлась о локоть.

И было темно. И это был пруд
И волны.- И птиц из породы люблю вас,
Казалось, скорей умертвят, чем умрут
Крикливые, черные, крепкие клювы.

И это был пруд. И было темно.
Пылали кубышки с полуночным дегтем.
И было волною обглодано дно
У лодки. И грызлися птицы у локтя.

И ночь полоскалась в гортанях запруд,
Казалось, покамест птенец не накормлен,
И самки скорей умертвят, чем умрут
Рулады в крикливом, искривленном горле.  

Carol by R. S. Thomas

What is Christmas without
snow? We need it
as bread of a cold
climate, ermine to trim

our sins with, a brief
sleeve for charity’s
scarecrow to wear its heart
on, bold as a robin.

by R. S. Thomas
from Later Poems
(1983)

The Fridge by Boris Slutsky

What a sturdy square block of a thing you are!
Such a fine, white, self-satisfied creature!
 
Sometimes you stand dumb as a boulder
or drop off into a cold sleep, or
Sometimes your metal belly rumbles, but there's
no point in working out your meaning.
 
Of all machines the fridge must be the
most good-natured; hog-fat and
roomy as a snow-drift, it
must be said to hold the purest heart.
 
Firmly under human domination
even the cold that creeps out from it
is only a small cold blast, too small
to threaten any freeze-up of our future.
 
If ever robots rise in revolution,
if ever they attack the human race,
at least you refrigerators won't be
amongst the ones to break the peace.
 
For you are the house-dog of machinery
a faithful and contented animal;
so give your door a docile wag for Man,
your living friend, and show him how you smile.
 

by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий
(Boris Abramovich Slutsky)
(19??)
translated by Elaine Feinstein

Diver-Bird by Mike Jenkins

People sat up from skin-baking or shade-seeking,
children on flabby lilos stopped squall-splashing:
not a pointy snorkeller, but a diver-bird.
'Duck!' someone called, as he dipped
and disappeared underwater, emerging
liquid minutes later as no human could.
'Guillemot' I said assured, chuckling.
 
Grey-black, shiny as wet seaweed
his head intent for rush of a shoal,
no periscope or radar could equal
that vision: beak needling fish
leading a feathery thread up and down.
I tried to swim out, follow him,
make clicking noises to draw his attention:
he ignored my performance.
 
Returning home, in reference books,
I realised 'guillemot' was just as absurd.
He was elusive here as he'd been  
in the bay, no silhouette fitting.
Yet I knew he'd keep re-surfacing
further and further away, stitching
more firmly because I couldn't find a name.
 
 
by Mike Jenkins
from This House, My Ghetto 

Additional information: Here are some fun facts about the guillemot.