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)
translated by C. M. Bowra
Fun extra: Here is the poem performed in Russian.
Cautious, toneless sound
of fruit from a tree
to the constant
melody of forest silence…
by Осип Эмильевич Мандельштам (Osip Emilyevich Mandelshtam. His surname is commonly latinised as Mandelstam)
translated by John Riley
People, years and nations
run away forever
like a flowing river.
In nature’s supple mirror
We’re the fish,
dark’s ghosts are gods,
and the constellations
knot night’s nets.
by Велимир Хлебников (Velimir Khlebnikov)
a.k.a. Виктор Владимирович Хлебников
(Viktor Vladimirovich Khlebnikov)
translated by Robert Chandler
Fun fact: This was written shortly before the centenary of Derzhavin’s death, continuing the theme’s of his last poem.
Whispers, timid breathing,
trills of a nightingale,
the silver and the shiver
of a sleepy rill.
Pale light and nighttime shadows,
shadows without end,
all the magic transformations
of eyes and lips and brows.
In smoky clouds, a rose’s purple,
the shine of amber beads,
and the kisses, and the tears,
and the dawn, the dawn!
by Афанасий Афанасьевич Фет (Afanasy Afanasyevich Fet)
a.k.a. Шеншин (Shenshin)
translated by Boris Dralyuk
Grant me years of sickness and fever;
make me sleepless for months at a time.
Take away my child and my lover
and the mysterious gift of rhyme.
As the air grows ever more sultry,
this is the prayer I recite:
and may the storm cloud over my country
be shot through with rays of light.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
(11 May 1915, Day of the Holy Spirit), St Petersburg
translation by Robert Chandler
Russia is baffling to the mind,
not subject to the common measure;
her ways – of a peculiar kind…
One only can have faith in Russia.
by Фёдор Иванович Тютчев (Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev)
translated by Avril Pyman
Fun Fact: Counted amongst the admirers of Tyutchev‘s works were Dostoevsky and Tolstoy along with Nekrasov and Fet then later Osip Mandelstam who, in a passage approved by Shalamov, believed that a Russian poet should not have copy of Tyutchev in his personal library – he should know all of Tyutchev off by heart.