Борис Пастернак [Boris Pasternak] by Anna Akhmatova

He who compared himself to the eye of a horse,

Peers, looks, sees, recognizes,

And instantly puddles shine, ice

Pines away, like a melting of diamonds.


Backyards drowse in lilac haze. Branch-

Line platforms, logs, clouds, leaves…

The engine’s whistle, watermelon’s crunch,

A timid hand in a fragrant kid glove. He’s


Ringing, thundering, grinding, up to his breast

In breakers… and suddenly is quiet… This means

He is tiptoeing over pine needles, feaful lest

He should startle space awake from its light sleep.


It means he counts the grains in the empty ears,

And it means he has come back

From another funeral, back to Darya’s

Gorge, the tombstone, cursed and black.


And burns again, the Moscow tedium,

In the distance death’s sleigh-bell rings…

Who has got lost two steps from home,

Where the snow is waist-deep, an end to everything?


Because he compared smoke with Laocoön,

Made songs out of graveyard thistles,

Because he filled the world with a sound no-one

Has heard before, in a new space of mirrored


Verses, he has been rewarded with a form

Of eternal childhood, with the stars’ vigilant love,

The whole earth has been passed down to him,

And he has shared it with everyone.


by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)

(19 January 1936)

from Тростник (Reed) / Из шести книг (From the Sixth Book)

translation by D. M. Thomas


The View From The Window by R. S. Thomas

Like a painting it is set before one,

But less brittle, ageless; these colours

Are renewed daily with variations

Of light and distance that no painter

Achieves or suggests. Then there is movement,

Change, as slowly the cloud bruises

Are healed by sunlight, or snow caps

A black mood; but gold at evening

To cheer the heart. All through history

The great brush has not rested,

Nor the paint dried; yet what eye,

Looking coolly, or, as we now,

Through the tears’ lenses, ever saw

This work and it was not finished?


by R. S. Thomas

from Poetry For Supper (1958)

January by R. S. Thomas

The fox drags its wounded belly

Over the snow, the crimson seeds

Of blood burst with a mild explosion,

Soft as excrement, bold as roses.


Over the snow that feels no pity,

Whose white hands can give no healing,

The fox drags its wounded belly.


by R. S. Thomas

from Song At The Year’s Turning (1955)

Snow Keeps Falling Night And Day by Varlam Shalamov

Snow keeps falling night and day –

some god, now turned more strict,

is sweeping out from his domain

scraps of his old manuscripts.


Sheaves of ballads, songs and odes,

all that now seems bland or weak –

he sweeps it down from his high clouds,

caught up now by newer work.


by Варлам Тихонович Шаламов (Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov)

(1950 – or at least the incident which inspired the poem occurred then)

translated by Robert Chandler

In The Train Car by Innokenty Annensky

We’ve done enough, we’ve said enough –

let’s sit in silence, without smiling;

low-lying clouds are shedding snow

and heaven’s light is slowly fading.


The brittle willows rage and split

in an unspeakable pitched battle.

‘Until tomorrow, then,’ I say.

‘As for today, let’s call it settled.’


Even if boundlessly at fault,

I wish – not dreaming, not entreating –

to stare out at the fields of white

through windows swathed in cotton fleecing.


While you, show off your beauty, shine…

assure me that I have your pardon –

shine with that stream of eventide

around which everything has hardened.


by Иннокентий Фёдорович Анненский (Innokenty Fyodorovich Annensky)


translated by Boris Dralyuk

The Last Night by Clark Ashton Smith

I dreamed a dream: I stood upon a height,

A mountain’s utmost eminence of snow.

Beholding ashen plains outflung below

To a far sea-horizon, dim and white.

Beneath the spectral sun’s expiring light

The world lay shrouded in a deathly glow;

Its last fear-laden voice, a wind, came low;

The distant sea lay hushed, as with affright.


I watched, until the pale and flickering sun,

In agony and fierce despair, flamed high,

And shadow-slain, went out upon the gloom.

Then Night, that war of gulf-born Titans won,

Impended for a breath on wings of doom.

And through the air fell like a falling sky.


by Clark Ashton Smith

After Plodding Year After Year by Georgy Ivanov

After plodding year after year

through towns in an alien land,

we have ground enough to despair –

and despair is where we must end.


For despair is our final refuge –

as if, midwinter, we had come

from Vespers in a nearby church,

through Russian snow, to our home.


by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)


by Robert Chandler