“And again they’ll order a translation…” by Marina Boroditskaya

And again they’ll order a translation,
and a foreign poet, like an alien spaceman,
space-suit on fire, will enter the atmosphere
and land, as literals, on your writing table.

Get to work then, palms pumping chest,
trying to find life in this strange being,
to start the heart’s rhythm, the lung’s action,
so he can breathe the harsh local air.

This one will probably live, but some die,
and who can you tell later or explain
how the sacred honey congeals in your breast,
refusing to be poured into strange vessels.

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by Мари́на Я́ковлевна Бороди́цкая
(Marina Yakovlevna Boroditskaya)
(c. 2003)
translated by Ruth Fainlight

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Extra information: Marina Boroditskaya was born on June 28, 1954 in Moscow. In 1976 she graduated from the Moscow Institute of Foreign Languages ​​named after Maurice Torez. She worked as a guide-translator and taught in a school. In 1978 she made her debut as a translator in Russia’s Иностранная литература (Foreign Literature) magazine.

Since 1990 she has been a member of the Writers’ Union, and since 2005 she has become a member of the Мастера литературного перевода (Masters of Literary Translation) guild.

Marina Boroditskaya works as a presenter on the radio show Литературная аптека (translated as Literary Pharmacy’, ‘Literary First Aid Box’or ‘Literary Drugstore’ depending on your source) on Радио России (Radio Russia). She is convinced that the book is the best medicine.

Книга жалоб – в каждом магазине… (Every Store…) by Yevgeny Vinokurov

Every store keeps a book for complaints
And, if you ask for it, they have to give it to you!
It wouldn’t be a bad idea, I think,
If eternity had a book like that.
Then people wouldn’t have to keep silent about their sorrow.
…Timidly, cautious at first, they would all come, bringing
The griefs they endure, the wrongs they are made to suffer
To universal attention and judgement.
How we should then be struck, I know,
By one entry of half a line
written
By that woman who, slumped against its railings,
Was crying in the park last night…

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by Евгений Михайлович Винокуров (Yevgeny Mikhailovich Vinokurov)
(1961)
Translated by Albert C. Todd

Additional information: He served in the artillery during the Second World War, studied at the Gorky Literary Institute and published his first poems in 1948. As co-editor of the poetry section of the journal Октябрь (October) he published Boris Slutsky, Nikolai Zabolotsky and the young Bella Akhmadulina amongst many others.

Beneath is the original Russian version of the poem in Cyrillic.

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Книга жалоб – в каждом магазине…

Книга жалоб – в каждом магазине,
Требуйте её, – должны подать!..

Предлагаю вечности: отныне
Завести подобную тетрадь,

Чтоб о боли люди не молчали,
И тогда-то на вселенский суд
Все свои обиды и печали
Люди осторожно понесут…

Как тогда б, я знаю, поразила
Надпись в полстроки из-под пера
Женщины, что павши на перила,
Ночью в парке плакала вчера.

1961

Осень (Autumn) by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Within me is an autumn season.

There is transparency and coolness

Sadness, but not desolation,

And I am humble, full of goodness.

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And if sometimes I storm aloud

Then I storm, to shed my leaves:

And the thought comes, simply, sadly,

That to storm is not what is needed.

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The main thing is to learn to see

Myself and the world of toil and torment

In autumnal nakedness

When you and the world become transparent.

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Insight is the child of silence.

No matter if we make no tumult:

We must calmly shed all noise

In the name of the new leaves.

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Something, certainly, has happened:

Only on silence I rely

Where the leaves, piling on each other,

Are silently becoming soil.

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And you see all, as from some height,

When you dare cast your leaves in time

And inner autumn, without passion,

Touches your brow with airy fingers.

.

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by Евгений Александрович Евтушенко

Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko

(1965)

translation by J R Rowland

Alexei Simonov, the son of the poet Konstantin Simonov, recites the poem.

Beneath is the original version the poem in Cyrillic.

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Осень

Внутри меня осенняя пора.

Внутри меня прозрачно прохладно,

и мне печально и, но не безотрадно,

и полон я смиренья и добра.

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А если я бушую иногда.

то это я бушую, облетая,

и мысль приходит, грустная, простая,

что бушевать – не главная нужда.

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А главная нужда – чтоб удалось

себя и мир борьбы и потрясений

увидеть в обнаженности осенней,

когда и ты и мир видны насквозь.

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Прозренья – это дети тишины.

Не страшно, если шумно не бушуем.

Спокойно сбросить все, что было шумом,

во имя новых листьев мы должны.

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Случилось что-то, видимо, со мной,

и лишь на тишину я полагаюсь,

где листья, друг на друга налагаясь,

неслышимо становятся землей.

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И видишь все, как с некой высоты,

когда сумеешь к сроку листья сбросить,

когда бесстрастно внутренняя осень

кладет на лоб воздушные персты.

О, этот воздух, смутой пьяный… (‘On the black square of the Kremlin…’) by Osip Mandelstam

On the black square of the Kremlin

the air is drunk with mutiny.

A shaky ‘peace’ is rocked by rebels,

the poplars puff seditiously.

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The wax faces of the cathedrals

and the dense forest of the bells

tell us – inside the stony rafters

a tongueless brigand is concealed.

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But inside the sealed-up cathedrals

the air we breathe is cool and dark,

as though a Russian wine is coursing

through Greece’s earthenware jars.

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Assumption’s paradise of arches

soars up in an astonished curve;

and now the green Annunciation

awakens, cooing like a dove.

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The Archangel and Resurrection

let in the light like glowing palms –

everything is secretly burning,

the jugs are full of hidden flames.

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by Осип Эмильевич Мандельштам (Osip Emilyevich Mandelshtam.)

His surname is commonly latinised as Mandelstam)

(April 1916)

translated by Thomas de Waal

Mandelstam’s poem set to music composed and performed by the singer-songwriter Larisa Novoseltseva. Performed at the House of Journalists, Moscow, on February 24, 2010. She is composer and performer of songs and ballads on poems by more than forty Russian poets, mostly of the Silver Age. Check out more of her work on YouTube!

Beneath is the original Russian language version of the poem in Cyrillic.

О, этот воздух, смутой пьяный…

О, этот воздух, смутой пьяный,

На черной площади Кремля.

Качают шаткий «мир» смутьяны,

Тревожно пахнут тополя.

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Соборов восковые лики,

Колоколов дремучий лес,

Как бы разбойник безъязыкий

В стропилах каменных исчез.

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А в запечатанных соборах,

Где и прохладно и темно,

Как в нежных глиняных амфорах,

Играет русское вино.

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Успенский, дивно округленный,

Весь удивленье райских дуг,

И Благовещенский, зеленый,

И, мнится, заворкует вдруг.

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Архангельский и Воскресенья

Просвечивают, как ладонь,—

Повсюду скрытое горенье,

В кувшинах спрятанный огонь…

Домби и сын (Dombey and Son) by Osip Mandelstam

The shrillness of the English language

and Oliver’s dejected look

have merged: I see the youngster languish

among a pile of office books.

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Charles Dickens – ask him; he will tell you

what was in London long ago:

the City, Dombey, assets’ value,

the River Thames’s rusty flow.

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‘Mid rain and tears and counted money,

Paul Dombey’s curly-haired son

cannot believe that clerks are funny

and laughs at neither joke nor pun.

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The office chairs are sorry splinters;

each broken farthing put to use,

and numbers swarm in springs and winters,

like bees perniciously let loose.

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Attorneys study every letter;

in smoke and stench they hone their stings,

and, from a noose, the luckless debtor –

a piece of bast – in silence swings.

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His foes enjoy their lawful robbing,

lost are for him all earthly boons,

and lo! His only daughter, sobbing,

embraces checkered pantaloons.

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by Осип Эмильевич Мандельштам (Osip Emilyevich Mandelshtam.)

His surname is commonly latinised as Mandelstam)

(1913)

translated by Anatoly Liberman

from the poetry collection камен (Stone)

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‘This is a hauntingly beautiful lyric, though all the references are wrong; Oliver Twist does not spend a minute in the office, Paul Dombey never deals with his father’s clerks, no one cracks jokes in his presence, no debtor hangs himself in that novel, and the Thames is not Yellow.’

– Anatoly Liberman
The poem recited in Russian by Stanislav Komardin.

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

Домби и сын

Когда, пронзительнее свиста,

Я слышу английский язык —

Я вижу Оливера Твиста

Над кипами конторских книг.

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У Чарльза Диккенса спросите,

Что было в Лондоне тогда:

Контора Домби в старом Сити

И Темзы желтая вода…

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Дожди и слезы. Белокурый

И нежный мальчик — Домби-сын;

Веселых клэрков каламбуры

Не понимает он один.

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В конторе сломанные стулья,

На шиллинги и пенсы счет;

Как пчелы, вылетев из улья,

Роятся цифры круглый год.

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А грязных адвокатов жало

Работает в табачной мгле —

И вот, как старая мочала,

Банкрот болтается в петле.

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На стороне врагов законы:

Ему ничем нельзя помочь!

И клетчатые панталоны,

Рыдая, обнимает дочь…