Ласточки (Swallows) by Afanasy Fet

Nature’s ever indolent spy,

forgetting cares and tasks, I’m fond

of watching darkening swallows fly

above a twilit pond.

.

I watch an arrow almost touch

the pond’s clear glass – until I fear

a hostile element may snatch

this winged lightning from the air.

.

Once more this upsurge of elation,

once more black water sliding by…

But is not this true inspiration?

The very breath of being alive?

.

Do poets not seek ways forbidden

to beings made from dust and clay?

Do I not dream of what lies hidden

and long to scoop a drop away?

.

by Афанасий Афанасьевич Фет (Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet)

a.k.a. Шеншин (Shenshin)

(1884)

translated by Anonymous, revised by Robert Chandler, Boris Dralyuk and Irina Mashinski

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A reading of the poem in Russian by the actor Sergey Chonishvili (Сергей Чонишвили)

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

Ласточки

Природы праздный соглядатай,
Люблю, забывши всё кругом,
Следить за ласточкой стрельчатой
Над вечереющим прудом.

Вот понеслась и зачертила —
И страшно, чтобы гладь стекла
Стихией чуждой не схватила
Молниевидного крыла.

И снова то же дерзновенье
И та же тёмная струя, —
Не таково ли вдохновенье
И человеческого я?

Не так ли я, сосуд скудельный,
Дерзаю на запретный путь,
Стихии чуждой, запредельной,
Стремясь хоть каплю зачерпнуть?

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Extra information: Here is the Wikipedia page about swallows and here is the RSPB page which has lots of interesting information about swallows.

Also a ‘revised translation’ which is rare. I wonder what the previous translation was like and how it came to require 3 professionals in the revision?

Life is it a Waste? By Wendy Tina Jones

Man’s life is like a cloud that fades and is gone,

Man dies and never returns,

Forgotten by all who knew him,

So he continually strives to make his mark whilst he is on this Earth,

So that he will be remembered in centuries to come,

Defaming people as he strives for success,

Foolishly gathering riches that he cannot take with him,

We were born as nothing,

And we will die as nothing.

.

By Wendy Tina Jones

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.

A Welsh Spring by Vic Rees

That day,

slate skies still gloomed

the slanting fields,

but timid pink smiled faintly

between the clouds.

.

Grave sheep,

catched to the hill’s green cant,

stirred in the mellowing air,

and misty pastures corsetted

by cattle-keeping walls,

appeared to meditate

upon their coming colours.

.

Deep in the valley’s throat

a tipsy tractor undulated,

loudly blue, defiant

against the earth’s brown quiet.

.

Suddenly,

a whirr of pigeons

in arrowed flight,

climbed then dived

into the valley’s side,

melting in the solvency of trees

like the easing of a pain.

.

Rubber-shod

I trod the meadow’s ooze,

feeling the muscling turf

beneath my feet; then,

welcoming the simplifying air,

I took my first firm step

from the winter of your going.

.

.

by Vic Rees

Мы только женщины – и, так сказать, “увы!”… (We’re Only Women) by Novella Matveyeva

We’re only women – alas, as it were.

But why alas? Time to define the reason.

‘Wine and women’ – so you say.

But we don’t talk of ‘chocolates and men’!

.

We distinguish you from buns or toffee

We somehow feel that people are not hams,

Though (to hear you) we only differ

In never having a head upon our shoulders.

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‘Wine and women’? Let’s follow it from there.

Woman, take a cookbook,

Say ‘I love you better than jugged hare,

Than strawberry jam! Than pig’s feet! Than fish pie!’

.

Well, how do you like my affection?

You’re a person, not a piece of cheese?

– And I?

.

.

By Новелла Николаевна Матвеева

(Novella Nikolayevna Matveyeva)

(1965)

Translated by J. R. Rowland

.

Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.

.

Мы только женщины – и, так сказать, “увы!”…

Мы только женщины – и, так сказать, “увы!”

А почему “увы”? Пора задеть причины.

“Вино и женщины” – так говорите вы,

Но мы не говорим: “Конфеты и мужчины”.

.

Мы отличаем вас от груши, от халвы,

Мы как-то чувствуем, что люди – не ветчины,

Хотя, послушать вас, лишь тем и отличимы,

Что сроду на плечах не носим головы.

.

“Вино и женщины”? – Последуем отсель.

О женщина, возьми поваренную книжку,

Скажи: “Люблю тебя, как ягодный кисель,

Как рыбью голову! Как заячью лодыжку!

.

По сердцу ли тебе привязанность моя?

Ах, да! Ты не еда! Ты – человек! А я?”

Always the Ocean by Mike Jenkins

For those us born by the ocean

there will always be a listening,

an ear close to the ground

like an animal trailing.

.

I remember one night

I couldn’t see anything of water

and I was sober as the stars,

yet below the tracked paving-stones

and gushing up through cracks…

benches tilted, clouds rocked.

I was a vessel, filled full of it.

.

This town at the valley’s head

I’ve adopted or it’s adopted me:

wakes fan from the simple phrases

and often laughter can erode

the most resistant expressions.

Despite this, I’m following the river

along our mutual courses:

.

to the boy on a storm-beach

hopping from boulder to boulder

trying to mimic a mountain-goat;

to the young man sitting in a ring

of perfumed smoke of dolphins

plucked by the sleight-fingered sea.

.

.

By Mike Jenkins

from This House, My Ghetto

Как дрожит на ветреном закате (How the sun trembles in the windy sunset) by Novella Matveyeva

How the sun trembles in the windy sunset.

Through the breaks in the trees

Its multitudinous rays

Toss like strands

In a bright flowing mane.

They fuse together, glittering

Like the flash of blades,

Each flash

Obscuring

Its predecessor…

The wood, misty under the slanting rays,

Sketches a royal crest,

Receives the sun’s teeth in its curly head,

Is distracted, dispersed, pale.

But already, like the final curtain,

The edge of the wood is moving towards darkness,

The sun prepares to set sail,

The distance slackens, the sky’s an orphan…

Clumps of trees

Shuffle wildly,

Silently their half-transparent,

Ambiguous, recumbent shadows

Drift away.

And already the trees,

On the threshold

Of the unknown night,

Shiver,

No longer

Believing in their shadows

Once they’ve fled.

.

By Новелла Николаевна Матвеева (Novella Nikolayevna Matveyeva)

(1965)

translated by Daniel Weissbort

.

.

Beneath is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.

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Как дрожит на ветреном закате

Как дрожит на ветреном закате

Солнце сквозь древесные прорывы!

Тьмы лучей волнуются, как пряди

Золотой взвивающейся гривы.

.

Перепутываются, сверкают

Фехтовальным блеском пререканья,

Новые сверкания свергают

С трона предыдущее сверканье.

.

Дымный под наклонными лучами,

Образующими царский гребень,

Зубья солнца в кудри получая,

Лес растерян, распылен и бледен.

.

Но уже, как занавес к закрытью,

К темноте край леса тяготеет,

Солнце наклоняется к отплытью,

Даль слабеет, небо сиротеет.

.

Пятна рощ сместились, как шальные,

Тихо от деревьев отлетели

Их полупрозрачные, двойные,

Ложные, двусмысленные тени.

.

И уже деревья у преддверья

Неизвестной ночи задрожали,

И уже своим теням не верят,

Потому что тени убежали.

.

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Additional information: Matveyeva was born on 7 October 1934 in Pushkin, Saint Petersburg (then Leningrad). She suffered the fate of so many war children and was brought up in children’s homes and, later, apparently spent much of her time in hospitals. She was a Russian bard, poet, writer, screenwriter, dramatist, and literary scientist.

Novella was also the cousin of poet Ivan Matveyev (Elagin). Her first poetry collection, Lyrics, was published in 1961 which was the same year she was admitted to the Union of Soviet Writers.

From the end of the 1950s on Matveyeva composed songs to her poetry and performed them, accompanying herself on a seven-string guitar. The element of fantasy and the dreamlike atmosphere of much of her poetry is unusual in the Soviet context.

In 1998 Matveyeva received the Russian State Pushkin Prize in poetry, and in 2002, she received the Russian Federation State Prize in Literature and Arts for her poetry collection Jasmine. Matveyeva died on 4 September 2016 at the age of 81 in Moscow Oblast.