Весенний день (Spring Day) by Igor Severyanin

To my dear friend K. M. Fofanov

This day of spring is hot and gold,
The city’s entirely blinded by the sun.
I’m once more me, I’m once more young,
I’m once more happy and deep in love.

My soul sings and yearns for the countryside.
Everyone I address as brother…
What boundless freedom and room to move!
What songs, what flower are blooming now!

I can’t wait to leap into a cart
And jolt into the fresh meadows over ruts,
Look windburned peasants women in the eye
And embrace my enemy as a friend.

Rustle, rustle, you spring oak woods.
Grow, grass! Lilac, flower!
None are guilty, all men are innocent
On such a blessed day.

by Игорь Северянин (Игор Васильевич Лотарёв)
(Igor Severyanin a.ka. Igor Vasilevich Lotaryov)
translated by Bernard Meares

Весенний день

Дорогому К. М. Фофанову

Весенний день горяч и золот, –
Весь город солнцем ослеплен!
Я снова — я: я снова молод!
Я снова весел и влюблен!

Душа поет и рвется в поле,
Я всех чужих зову на «ты»…
Какой простор! Какая воля!
Какие песни и цветы!

Скорей бы — в бричке по ухабам!
Скорей бы — в юные луга!
Смотреть в лицо румяным бабам,
Как друга, целовать врага!

Шумите, вешние дубравы!
Расти, трава! Цвети, сирень!
Виновных нет: все люди правы
В такой благословенный день!

1911 г.

Additional information: Igor Severyanin (И́горь Северя́нин) whose real name was Igor Vasilyevich Lotaryov (И́горь Васи́льевич Лотарёв) (May 16, 1887 – December 20, 1941) was a Russian poet who presided over the circle of the so-called Ego-Futurists.
Konstantin Mikhailovich Fofanov (Константин Михайлович Фофанов) (1862-1911), to who the poem is dedicated, was a Russian poet noted for the transparent purity and musicality of his verse.

Severyanin, whose real surname was Lotaryov, was born into a noble family; his father was an army officer. He had no former higher education and published his first poems when he was only eighteen. In October 1911 Severyin announced the foundation of Egofuturism, which, in addition to the Futurists’ strident rejection of all past culture, placed special emphasis on egoism and individualism as the vital moving force. He was an outstanding reader of poetry and during a poetry evening in Moscow he was elected “King of the Poets” in spite of the presence of Aleksandr Blok and Vladimir Mayakovsky. From 1913 Severyanin’s popularity was beyond description, though not long-lived. His poetry contains an extraordinary mixture of exhibitionism, a flaunting of neologisms, and an extraordinary poetic gift. There is no mistaking the poems of Severyanin for anyone else’s.

In 1918 he emigrated to Estonia where he lived in a fishing village keeping his distance from émigré politics and groups, but managing to publish from time to time in Berlin, Belgrade, Tartu, and Bucharest. He was crossed off the list of poets worthy of attention by the Paris legislators of émigré fashion but not forgotten by Russian readers in the Soviet Union.

Biographical information about Severyanin, p.160-161, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Ты думаешь в твоё жилище… (You think…) by Georgy Rayevsky

You think: wont fate tap
Like a walking stick at your dwelling?
And what is that beggar to you,
Who’s standing there on the street?
But we’re bound by a dreaful
Collective guarantee, and it’s not for
Some to be tormented with mortal anguish,
Others to drink wine with joy.
We are those who fall and moan
And those whose triumph is now.
We are that ship which is going down,
And the one who sank it.

by Георгий Авдеевич Раевский (Оцуп)
(Georgy Avdeevich Rayevsky) (Otsup)
translated by Albert C. Todd

Ты думаешь в твоё жилище…

Ты думаешь: в твоё жилище
Судьба клюкой не постучит?..
И что тебе до этой нищей,
Что там на улице стоит!

Но грозной круговой порукой
Мы связаны, и не дано
Одним томиться смертной мукой,
Другим пить радости вино.

Мы – те, кто падает и стонет,
И те, чьё нынче торжество;
Мы – тот корабль, который тонет,
И тот, что потопил его.

Additional information: Georgy Avdeevich Raevsky (Георгий Авдеевич Раевский) (real name Otsup; December 29, 1897, Tsarskoye Selo  – February 19, 1963, Stuttgart) was a Russian poet and prose writer and author of articles regarding the theater. He emigrated to Paris in the early 1920s and was a part of the Cross roads group. In order not to be confused with his brother, Nikolai Avdeevich Otsup, he took the name of Pushkin‘s friend Nikolai Raevsky as a pseudonym . He wrote poems, stories, articles about music, parodies and epigrams. On a side note the book I referenced, published in the 1990s, gives his dates as 1897 to 1962 but Wikipedia gives them as 17 December 1897 to 19 February 1963 which I assume to be more accurate.

Rayevsky, whose real surname was Otsup, was the brother of the poet Nikolai Otsup and the son of the photographer of the Imperial Court in St Petersburg. He emigrated to Paris in the early 1920s and joined the Perekriostki (Crossroads) group, which appeared in 1926, together with Yury Terapiano, Vladimir Smolensky, Dovid Knut, and Yury Mandelstam. His poetry regularly appeared in émigré journals and resulted in three collections: Strofy (Strofes) (1928), Novye stikhotvoreniia (New Poems) (1946), and Tret’ ia kniga (Third Book)(1953). In the serious, philosophical aspect of his poetry can be seen Rayevsky’s religious approach to the world and perhaps, as in the poem here, and expression of the tragedy of emigration.

Biographical information about Rayevsky, p.331-332, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Мы разучились нищим подавать (We Have Forgotten…) by Nikolai Tikhonov

We have forgottten how to offer alms,
And meet the dawn, and breathe the sea’s salt heavens,
And go in shops, and count out from our palms
Our copper trash against the gold of lemons.

The ships that visit us, chance brings them all.
The rails bear freight because they’ve always done so.
And count our people. As each name is called
You’ll see how many dead will stand to answer.

We’ll solemnly ignore the whale parade.
The knife won’t serve for work when once it’s broken,
But even with this blackened, broken blade
Immortal pages can be still cut open.

by Николай Семёнович Тихонов
(Nikolai Semenovich Tikhonov)
(November 1921)
translated by Michael Frayn

Мы разучились нищим подавать

Мы разучились нищим подавать,
Дышать над морем высотой солёной,
Встречать зарю и в лавках покупать
За медный мусор – золото лимонов.

Случайно к нам заходят корабли,
И рельсы груз проносят по привычке;
Пересчитай людей моей земли –
И сколько мёртвых встанет в перекличке.

Но всем торжественно пренебрежём.
Нож сломанный в работе не годится,
Но этим чёрным, сломанным ножом
Разрезаны бессмертные страницы.

Additional information: Никола́й Семёнович Ти́хонов (Nikolai Semenovich Tikhonov) (4 December [O.S. 22 November] 1896 – 8 February 1979) was a Soviet writer and member of the Serapion Brothers literary group. He volunteered for the Imperial Russian Army at the outbreak of World War I and served in a hussar regiment; he entered the Red Army in 1918, fought in the Russian Civil War, and was demobilized in 1922. He served on the Finnish front in the Winter War and was in Leningrad for the Siege. In 1944 he became chair of the Union of Soviet Writers, but was dismissed by Joseph Stalin in 1946 for being too tolerant of Zoshchenko and Akhmatova. However, he remained an important figure in Soviet literary circles, and he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1957. Tikhonov was the first chairman of the Soviet Peace Committee, serving from 1949 to 1979.

Tikhonov, the son of a barber, graduated in 1911 from the St Petersburg School of Trade. He participated in World War I as a Hussar and then fought in the Civil War in the Red Army. During his army service he began to write poetry and made his entrance into the Russian literary scene firmly and forever with his long narrative poem “Sami” (1920), about an Indian porter or carrier, and his two collections, Orda (Horde) and Braga (Home-Brewed Beer) (both 1922). Also in the early 1920s he joined the group known as the Serapion Brothers, the followers of Yevgeny Zamyatin, united mostly by their desire for greater freedom and variety in literature.

Tikhonov’s poems, especially his ballards, are perhaps more reminiscent of Kipling’s poetry than anything else, though Kipling was not at that time widely translated into Russian and it is not known whether Tikhonov read him in English. Tikhonov’s Russian antecedent was undoubtedly Nikolai Gumilyov. Tikhonov’s particularly spectacular poetic feats include his collection Stikhi of Kakhetii (Poems about Kakhetiya) and his translations of Georgian poets.

After 1934, when he was elected to the presidium of the Writers Union, he committed himself to organisational work as a literary functionary. He was the chairman of the Writers Union during World War II and offered help to many young poets. After the war Tikhonov’s most interesting poetic ventures were in poems about Yugoslavia. However, some of his postwar poetry shows haste; much of his time was taken up by his extensive public commitments. Under pressure from Stalin in 1948 he signed a letter against his Yugoslav friends, betraying not only them but himself too.

Biographical information about Tikhonov, p.326-327, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Каждый молод (Everyone is young…) by David Burlyuk

Everyone is young, young, young,
Hungry as maggots in dung
So follow then after me…
Behind my back you’ll be.
I’ll throw out a proud call
This brief speech is all!
We’ll eat stones and grasses
Praise bitter poison in glases
We’ll gobble up void
Depth, height, and spheroid
Birds, beasts, monsters, fish
Wind, clay, salt, and water’s swish!!…
Everyone is young, young, young,
Hungry as maggots in dung:
All that we meet on the way
May be food for us this day!

by Давид Давидович Бурлюк
(David Davidovich Burlyuk / Burliuk)
translated by Albert. C. Todd

Каждый молод

Каждый молод молод молод
В животе чертовский голод
Так идите же за мной…
За моей спиной
Я бросаю гордый клич
Этот краткий спич!
Будем кушать камни травы
Сладость горечь и отравы
Будем лопать пустоту
Глубину и высоту
Птиц, зверей, чудовищ, рыб,
Ветер, глины, соль и зыбь!
Каждый молод молод молод
В животе чертовский голод
Все что встретим на пути
Может в пищу нам идти.

Additional information: Давид Давидович Бурлюк (David Davidovich Burliuk or Burlyuk depending on the translateration choice) (21 July 1882 – 15 January 1967) was a Russian-language poet, artist and publicist associated with the Futurist and Neo-Primitivist movements. Burliuk has been described as “the father of Russian Futurism.”

Burlyuk, the son of an estate manager, studied art in Kazan, Odessa, Moscow, Munich (1902-1903), and Paris (1904). A poet as well as a painter, Burlyuk was the first to understand the genius of Vladimir Mayakovsky and was his closest comrade-in-arms. Together they were expelled from the Moscow School of Art and Architecture for “participation in public disputes,” and together they went on to shock both the Left and the Right by sporting yellow jackets, wooden spoons in their buttonholes, and paintings on their cheeks.

Together with Mayakovsky, Aleksey Kruchyonykh, and Velemir Khlebnikov, Burlyuk signed the manifesto of the Futurists, “A Slap in the Face of Public Taste” (1912), organized their readings, and arranged the publication of their poetry.

Burlyuk lived for a long time in the United States, where he published the journal Color and Rhyme. In 1956 he returned to Moscow, where the young poets were astonished to see that this shaker of foundations had become a kindly, bent old man, a historical relic who had, as if by accident, survived many tempests.

Biographical information about Burlyuk, p.110, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Над Невой (Over The Neva) by Wilgelm Zorgenfrey

Late night over the Neva.
There, where they are keeping watch,
A siren sends up its vicious howl,
Acetylene flares, a pillar of fire.

It’s quiet again, and dark once more.
The storm has swept the great square clean.

The winged angel on the column
Holds aloft its misty cross and gazes down
On forgotten palaces,
Broken pavements.

The frost bites deeper, the wind grows angry,
Water flows beneath the ice.

Upon the ice bonfires glow.
The sentry goes on duty.
Telegraph wires hum above:
All hail to thee, Petrograd!

In the dark recess of a palace wall
A phantom corpse has taken shape,
And the dead capital
Stares into its ghostly eyes.

Atop the granite by the bonfire
The Specter of the last Peter
Hides its eyes, trembles,
And sobs bitter tears in denial.

Foghorns wail piteously.
Wind whistles along the river.

Darkness melts. Dawn awakes.
Steam rises from the yellow ice floes,
Yellow light glints through the pane.
Citizen calls to
“What’s for dinner, citizen,
Have you registered, citizen,
Or not?”
“Today, citizen. I
Got no sleep:
Swapped my soul for a pint
Of Kerosene”

A sharp squall blows in from the bay
Hurries to build a snowy rampart-
So that all might be quieter still and darker
So that the souls of the dead might rest.

by Вильгельм Александрович Зоргенфрей
(Wilgelm Aleksandrovich Zorgenfrey)
a.k.a. Wilhelm Zorgenfrey
translated by Sophie Lund

Над Невой

Поздней ночью над Невой
В полосе сторожевой
Взвыла злобная сирена,
Вспыхнул сноп ацетилена.

Снова тишь и снова мгла.
Вьюга площадь замела.

Крест вздымая над колонной,
Смотрит ангел окрыленный
На забытые дворцы,
На разбитые торцы.

Стужа крепнет. Ветер злится.
Подо льдом вода струится.

Надо льдом костры горят,
Караул идет в наряд.
Провода вверху гудят:
Славен город Петроград!

В нише темного дворца
Вырос призрак мертвеца,
И погибшая столица
В очи призраку глядится.

А над камнем, у костра,
Тень последнего Петра –
Взоры прячет, содрогаясь,
Горько плачет, отрекаясь.

Ноют жалобно гудки.
Ветер свищет вдоль реки.

Сумрак тает. Рассветает.
Пар встает от желтых льдин,
Желтый свет в окне мелькает.
Гражданина окликает

– Что сегодня, гражданин,
На обед?
Прикреплялись, гражданин,
Или нет?

– Я сегодня, гражданин,
Плохо спал!
Душу я на керосин

От залива налетает резвый шквал,
Торопливо наметает снежный вал
Чтобы глуше еще было и темней,
Чтобы души не щемило у теней.

Additional information: You could more directly transliterate his first name from Cyrillic as Vilgyelm but it’s most likely a case of German to Russian transliteration of the name Wilhelm. When trying to find information about him is it ‘Wilhelm Zorgenfrey‘ which gained a few, rare, results.

Here is an account of his attendance of the funeral of Alexander Blok with his contempories including Bely and Akhmatova.

Zorgenfrey, the son of an army doctor, began to publish his poetry in 1905, but his one and only collection, Strastnaia subbota (Passion Saturday), was not published until 1922. Zorgenfrey had all the markings of a great poet, as the selection here indicates. At one time this poem made an enormous impression on the strict, sometimes implacable Aleksandr Blok, with whom Zorgenfrey developed a personal and professional relationship, and other contemporaries. In general Zorgenfrey’s themes and imagery are close to Blok’s.

Zorgenfrey was a prolific translator of major German writers, including Goethe, Herder, and Heine, and the editor of the translations of Heinrich von Kleist, Novalis, and Thomas Mann. He was arrested during Stalin’s terror and vanished in the gulag. Even just one or two of his remarkable poems are an inalienable part of Russian literature and history.

Biographical information about Zorgenfrey, p.108, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).