Маки (Poppies) by Innokenty Annensky

The gay day flames. The grass is still.

Like greedy impotence, poppies rise,

like lips that lust and poison fill,

like wings of scarlet butteflies.

 

The gay day flames… The garden now

is empty. Lust and feast are done.

Like heads of hags, the poppies bow

beneath the bright cup of the sun.

 

by Иннокентий Фёдорович Анненский (Innokenty Fyodorovich Annensky)

(1910)

translated by C. M. Bowra


 

Fun extra: Here is the poem performed in Russian.

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By The Fireplace by Afanasy Fet

The embers fade. A lucid flame

flickers in the half-light,

like a butterfly’s azure wing

on a scarlet poppy.

 

A scattering of motley visions

soothes my tired eyes.

Faces I can’t quite distinguish

gaze from the grey ash.

 

Past happiness and sadness rise –

a friendly, tender pair;

the soul pretends it can get by

without all it held so dear.

 

by Афанасий Афанасьевич Фет (Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet)

(1856)

translated by Boris Dralyuk

The Poppies Do Not Weep For You

You pulled apart her crimson petal folds and exposed her dark warmth. You didn’t like that she had been fertile by another before. But then it didn’t stop you craving her alabaster tears did it? Good men like you used violence and threats to get what you wanted. Especially when defending your misbegotten sense of pride.

Others fought with you for a cause no one believed in. Those who abstained you called chickens, ostracised and called upon the women back home to shame on your behalf while you took comfort in another’s arms within foreign tracts of land. You fought the good fight, as did your opponents, each believing the same thing but on opposite sides of a land no man could ever live in. Only the poppies and the crows attended them.

You became damaged in time and that beloved red whore’s tears were all that could numb your pain, numb the reoccurring memories and helped you forget what you had done. At first you could deal with it because others gave you it in small vials but in time you needed them more and more until you took what you could get and drowned in them. Other good men were brought to ruin too but you were hidden away in your shame of weeping wounds.

Those who had abstained, unlike you, could live their life, as the sepia memories faded like a photograph in the stark sunlight, but you were nothing more than a rotting skeleton in a low lit dragon’s den where you had long given up the chase to survive.

Those who didn’t return with you still lay in that foreign land, foreign even to its locals, as the poppies feasted upon their flesh of those good men laid low and drank their saviours’ blood as if it were wine. Good men still giving to the land they defended even in death.

Your favourite harlot can no longer soothe your ills with her tears. She never could. There are no tears that can soothe such a good man’s ills.


It’s pointless to edit this or make it better. There is no payback and it is a waste of time. Someone will steal this and use it elsewhere. Some kid too lazy to do their own English comprehension homework. They will not get good marks for it.