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

.

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?

.

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?

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.  

Урал впервые (The Urals For The First Time) by Boris Pasternak

Without obstetrician, in darkness, unconscious,
The towering Urals, hands clawing the night,
Yelled out in travail and fainted away,
Blinded by agony, gave birth to light.

In thunder, the masses and bronzes of mountains,
Accidentally struck, avalanched down.
The train went on panting. And somewhere this made
The spectres of firs go shyly to ground.

The smoke-haze at dawn was a soporific,
Administered slyly – to mountain and factory -
By men lighting stoves, by sulphurous dragons,
As thieves slip a drug in a traveller's tea.

They came in to fire. From the crimson horizon
Down to their timberline destination,
Asians were skiing with crowns for the pines.
And summoning them to their coronation.

And the pines, shaggy monarchs, in order of precedence
Rising up, stepped out, row on row
On to a damascened cloth-of-gold carpet
Spread with the orange of crusted snow.


by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
(1916)
from Поверх барьеров (Over The Barriers)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
The poem recited by Anastasiya Dikovistkaya in Russian.

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

Урал впервые

Без родовспомогательницы, во мраке, без памяти,
На ночь натыкаясь руками, Урала
Твердыня орала и, падая замертво,
В мученьях ослепшая, утро рожала.

Гремя опрокидывались нечаянно задетые
Громады и бронзы массивов каких-то.
Пыхтел пассажирский. И, где-то от этого
Шарахаясь, падали призраки пихты.

Коптивший рассвет был снотворным. Не иначе:
Он им был подсыпан - заводам и горам -
Лесным печником, злоязычным Горынычем,
Как опий попутчику опытным вором.

Очнулись в огне. С горизонта пунцового
На лыжах спускались к лесам азиатцы,
Лизали подошвы и соснам подсовывали
Короны и звали на царство венчаться.

И сосны, повстав и храня иерархию
Мохнатых монархов, вступали
На устланный наста оранжевым бархатом
Покров из камки и сусали.

Зима приближается (Winter Approaches) by Boris Pasternak

Winter approaches. And once again
The secret retreat of some bear
Will vanish under impassible mud
To a tearful child's despair.

Little huts will awaken in lakes
Reflecting their smoke like a path.
Encircled by autumn's cold slush,
Life-lovers will meet by the heath.

Inhabitants of the stern North,
Whose roof is the open air,
'In this sign conquer' is written
On each inaccessible lair.

I love you, provincial retreats,
Off the map, off the road, past the farm.
The more thumbed and grubby the book,
The greater for me its charm.

Slow lines of lumbering carts,
You spell out an alphabet leading
From meadow to meadow. Your pages
Were always my favourite reading.

And suddenly here it is written
Again, in the first snow – the spidery
Cursive italic of sleigh runners -
A page like a piece of embroidery.

A silvery-hazel October.
Pewter shine since the frosts began.
Autumnal twilight of Chekov,
Tchaikovsky and Levitan.

by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
(1943)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
The poem read in Russian by the actor Aleksandr Feklistov

Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem:

Зима приближается


Зима приближается. Сызнова
Какой-нибудь угол медвежий
Под слезы ребенка капризного
Исчезнет в грязи непроезжей.

Домишки в озерах очутятся,
Над ними закурятся трубы.
В холодных объятьях распутицы
Сойдутся к огню жизнелюбы.

Обители севера строгого,
Накрытые небом, как крышей!
На вас, захолустные логова,
Написано: сим победиши.

Люблю вас, далекие пристани
В провинции или деревне.
Чем книга чернее и листанней,
Тем прелесть ее задушевней.

Обозы тяжелые двигая,
Раскинувши нив алфавиты,
Вы с детства любимою книгою
Как бы посредине открыты.

И вдруг она пишется заново
Ближайшею первой метелью,
Вся в росчерках полоза санного
И белая, как рукоделье.

Октябрь серебристо-ореховый.
Блеск заморозков оловянный.
Осенние сумерки Чехова,
Чайковского и Левитана.

Солнечные Батареи (Solar Batteries) by Boris Slutsky

Solar batteries and
the great poets can
work directly off the sun;
while other batteries
and smaller poets need
continual recharging:
charging up with fame,
or vodka, or perhaps
they get recharging from
other poets' usage.

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

Beneath is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem (Honestly the translation above, though definitely based on the poem below, seem like it’s for a completely different poem with a similar theme but they share the name and I can find no alternatives that share the title!)

 Солнечные Батареи

Физики поднаторели —
выполнили программу,
солнечные батареи
от солнца работают прямо.

А Гезиод задолго
до современной науки
только от солнца работал,
а также мы, его внуки.

Солнце, вёдро, счастье —
вот источники тока,
питающие все чаще
поэтов нашего толка.

Но мы и от гнева — можем,
и от печали — будем.
И все-таки книги вложим
в походные сумки людям.

Мы — от льгот и от тягот
вдоль вселенной несемся,
а батареи могут
только от солнца.

Additional information: I came across the following, that I’ve roughly translated from Russian, which is quite interesting about one of his other poems and a repeated theme he used.

“Physicists and Lyrics” ( 1959 ) – one of the most famous poems by Boris Slutsky .

According to the memoirs of Boris Slutsky, the poem was written in Tarusa inspired by the discussion of cybernetics theory by Igor Poletaev and Alexei Lyapunov with the writer Ilya Erenburg , which unfolded on the pages of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. The poem, where Slutsky sided with the opponents of Ehrenburg, was published in Literaturnaya Gazeta in the issue of October 13, 1959.

“Physicists and Lyrics” is one of the most famous poems by Slutsky. Its name has become a ‘winged expression’ [i.e what Russian like to refer to their ‘idioms’ as] and is used to refer to the division of “people of science and people of art”.

As Slutsky recalled, Erenburg reacted to the poem “with restrained perplexity,” and the poet Mikhail Dudin , when he was told that the poem was humorous, replied: “We do not understand jokes”. The motive of “physicists” sounded in Slutsky’s poetry both earlier and later (“They gave us black bread on cards …”, “Physicists and people”, “Solar batteries”, “Lyrics and physicists”), and the author’s attitude was not so clear. In a later poem, “Lyrics and Physics,” Slutsky refuses to acknowledge the victory of “physicists”.

https://ru.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Физикиилирики_(стихотворение)

Парус (The Sail) by Mikhail Lermontov

White on the blue, the sail has gone,
to vanish with the breeze;
what does the sailor seek alone
in far-off seas?

His tackle tautens in the stress
of favouring winds astir;
alas, he seeks not happiness,
nor flies from her.

The sun is bright above; below,
the ripples curve and crease;
he, rebel, craves a storm, as though
in storm were peace.


by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов (Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov)
(1832)
translated by Frances Cornford and Esther Polianowsky Salaman
A recital of the poem in it’s original Russian

Additional information: The Sail was written when Mikhail Lermontov was only 17 years old in 1832. This was the year when he was forced to leave Moscow and his university studies. Recorded in a letter sent by Maria Lopukhina, whom he had sent the first version of the poem, upon his arrival in Saint Petersburg Lermontov immediately produced this poem’s outline while walking along the Gulf of Finland’s shoreline.

Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem.

Парус

Белеет парус одинокой
В тумане моря голубом!..
Что ищет он в стране далекой?
Что кинул он в краю родном?...

Играют волны — ветер свищет,
И мачта гнется и скрыпит...
Увы! Он счастия не ищет
И не от счастия бежит!

Под ним струя светлей лазури,
Над ним луч солнца золотой...
А он, мятежный, просит бури,
Как будто в бурях есть покой!

Гроза моментальная навек (Storm, Instantaneous Forever) by Boris Pasternak

Then summer took leave of the platform
and waiting room. Raising his cap,
the storm at night for souvenir
took snap after dazzling snap.

The lilac darkened. And the storm
came bounding in from the meadows
with a sheaf of lightning flashes
to light the office windows.

And when malicious delight ran
down corrugated iron in torrents,
and like charcoal on a drawing
the downpour crashed against the fence,

the avalanche of consciousness began
to glimmer: light, it seemed, would soon
food even those corners of reason
where now it is bright as noon.


by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
(1919)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
Pasternak’s poem recited by Sergei Yursky

Below is the original version of the poem in Cyrillic.

А затем прощалось лето
С полустанком. Снявши шапку,
Сто слепящих фотографий
Ночью снял на память гром.

Меркла кисть сирени. B это
Время он, нарвав охапку
Молний, с поля ими трафил
Озарить управский дом.

И когда по кровле зданья
Разлилась волна злорадства
И, как уголь по рисунку,
Грянул ливень всем плетнем,

Стал мигать обвал сознанья:
Вот, казалось, озарятся
Даже те углы рассудка,
Где теперь светло, как днем!