Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
translated by Elaine Feinstein
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.
How proud and festive the parade, The thundering trumpets lead the way, And lines of soldiers in array Follow one another.
His wife is joyful like a bride, His daughter watches full of pride, Only his mother turns aside: 'Where are you going, mother?'
The silent guns have lost their sting, For nothing now is happening, And we may yet escape the thing - No need for grief or grumbles!
The music is for you today, For you the trumpeter will play; Watch on his lip the mouth-piece sway, It trembles, trembles, trembles...
by ბულატ ოკუჯავა a.k.a. Булат Шалвович Окуджава a.k.a. Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava (1957 – 1959?) translated by Yakov Hornstein
Below is the original Russian version of the lyric in Cyrillic. Notably, regarding the English translation I provide above, the translator chose to change the title (or first line if originally untitled) to the more simple ‘Military Parade’ regarding the setting rather than provide a more direct translation along the lines of ‘Ah, the thundering brass trumpets…’
Ах, трубы медные гремят…
Ах, трубы медные гремят, кружится воинский парад — за рядом ряд, за рядом ряд идут в строю солдаты.
Не в силах радость превозмочь, поет жена, гордится дочь, и только мать уходит прочь… Куда же ты, куда ты?
И боль, и пыль, и пушек гром… Ах, это будет всё потом, чего ж печалиться о том — а может, обойдется?
Ведь нынче музыка — тебе, трубач играет на трубе, мундштук трясется на губе, трясется он, трясется.
Information: Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava (Russian: Булат Шалвович Окуджава; Georgian: ბულატ ოკუჯავა) (May 9, 1924 – June 12, 1997) was a Soviet and Russian poet, writer, musician, novelist, and singer-songwriter of Georgian-Armenian ancestry. He was one of the founders of the Soviet genre called “author song” (авторская песня), or “guitar song”, and the author of about 200 songs, set to his own poetry. His songs are a mixture of Russian poetic and folksong traditions and the French chansonnier style represented by such contemporaries of Okudzhava as Georges Brassens. Though his songs were never overtly political (in contrast to those of some of his fellow Soviet bards), the freshness and independence of Okudzhava‘s artistic voice presented a subtle challenge to Soviet cultural authorities, who were thus hesitant for many years to give official recognition to Okudzhava.