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.

.

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.

.

‘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.

.

The office chairs are sorry splinters;

each broken farthing put to use,

and numbers swarm in springs and winters,

like bees perniciously let loose.

.

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.

.

His foes enjoy their lawful robbing,

lost are for him all earthly boons,

and lo! His only daughter, sobbing,

embraces checkered pantaloons.

.

.

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)

.

‘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.

.

У Чарльза Диккенса спросите,

Что было в Лондоне тогда:

Контора Домби в старом Сити

И Темзы желтая вода…

.

Дожди и слезы. Белокурый

И нежный мальчик — Домби-сын;

Веселых клэрков каламбуры

Не понимает он один.

.

В конторе сломанные стулья,

На шиллинги и пенсы счет;

Как пчелы, вылетев из улья,

Роятся цифры круглый год.

.

А грязных адвокатов жало

Работает в табачной мгле —

И вот, как старая мочала,

Банкрот болтается в петле.

.

На стороне врагов законы:

Ему ничем нельзя помочь!

И клетчатые панталоны,

Рыдая, обнимает дочь…

Плачущий сад (The Weeping Garden) by Boris Pasternak

It’s terrible: dripping and listening

If it’s as much alone as ever –

Crumpling a lacy branch at the window –

Or if there’s an eavesdropper.

.

But audibly the porous earth

Is choking with so much growth

And in the distance, as in August,

Midnight ripens with the harvest.

.

No sound. And no one hiding.

Having made sure it’s on its own

It returns to its old game – sliding

From gable to gutter and down.

.

I’ll raise it to my lips and listen

If I’m as much alone as ever –

Ready to sob if I have to –

Or if there’s an eavesdropper.

.

But all is quiet. Not a leaf stirs.

Nothing anywhere to be seen,

Except the gulps and splashing galoshes

And sighs and tears in between.

.

.

by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к

(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)

from Сестра мояжизнь (My Sister, Life)

(1917)

translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France

A recital of the poem in Russian by Pavel Besedin

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

Плачущий сад

Ужасный! — Капнет и вслушается,

Все он ли один на свете

Мнет ветку в окне, как кружевце,

Или есть свидетель.

.

Но давится внятно от тягости

Отеков — земля ноздревая,

И слышно: далеко, как в августе,

Полуночь в полях назревает.

.

Ни звука. И нет соглядатаев.

В пустынности удостоверясь,

Берется за старое — скатывается

По кровле, за желоб и через.

.

К губам поднесу и прислушаюсь,

Все я ли один на свете, —

Готовый навзрыд при случае, —

Или есть свидетель.

.

Но тишь. И листок не шелохнется.

Ни признака зги, кроме жутких

Глотков и плескания в шлепанцах

И вздохов и слез в промежутке.

.

.

Additional information: As a teenager, Boris Pasternak fell in love with Ida Vysotskaya, the daughter of a wealthy Moscow tea merchant. Almost 5 years have passed since they met, before the aspiring poet ventured to propose to her and was refused. Memories of unsuccessful matchmaking long tormented Pasternak, who continued to have very tender feelings for Ide Vysotskaya. He tried not to mention this in his poems, but from time to time works appeared in which the pain, longing and disappointment of the poet were easily interpreted.

In 1917, resting in the country, Pasternak wrote an initial rough draft of the poem “The Weeping Garden”. The author himself, after many years, admitted that this work was written in one breath under the influence of a momentary impulse. Moreover, the poet at first did not think to draw a parallel between the usual summer rain and his own state of mind. This happened somewhat spontaneously, even unexpectedly, for the author himself. He felt anguish when looking out upon the night garden from his window. He felt that nature experiences exactly the same feeling of loneliness and longing as he did at times.

In his special manner, Pasternak conveys the sounds, rustles and even smells of a night garden, humanizing it and endowing it with the features of a lonely man. The hero of his work is constantly listening, “If it’s as much alone as ever“, and at the same time secretly dreams of attracting attention to himself. The garden weeps with warm summer rain, and the drops of moisture either freeze or slide “sliding / From gable to gutter and down“.

The poet himself is also “Ready to sob if I have to”, but looks around, looking for involuntary witnesses of his grief. Subconsciously, he wants to tell at least someone about what has become painful, to share his thoughts with feelings and feelings. However, the author is just as lonely as the night summer garden, and he has nowhere to wait for words of sympathy or comfort . “Nothing anywhere to be seen, / Except the gulps and splashing galoshes / And sighs and tears in between” the author notes, secretly regretting that at this moment there is no truly close person next to him. Pasternak still does not realize that life itself is preparing a cure for unrequited love for him, and very soon he will be able to find, albeit short-lived, but still happiness, next to another woman – artist Eugenia Vladimirovna Lurie.

Февраль. Достать чернил и плакать! (February. Get ink and weep!) by Boris Pasternak

 February. Get ink and weep!
Burst into sobs – to write and write
of February, while thundering slush
burns like black spring.

For half a rouble hire a cab,
ride through chimes and the wheel's cry
to where the drenching rain is black,
louder than tears or ink -

where like thousands of charred pears
rooks will come tearing out of trees
straight into puddles, an avalanche,
dry grief to the ground of eyes.

Beneath it – blackening spots of thaw,
and all the wind is holed by shouts,
and poems – the randomer the truer -
take form, as sobs burst out.


By Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
(1913)
translated by Angela Livingstone

An alternate to Jon Stallworthy and Peter France’s translation of the poem ‘It’s February. Weeping take ink!‘ provided elsewhere on this site. The Original doesn’t have a specific title and is usually referred to by it’s first line, as is the case with many untitled poems, but my source for this translation titled it as ‘February’. Also of note this translation gives the date as 1913 but my research of Russian sources all agree to it being published, or at least written, in 1912. The discrepancy may be due to the date it was initially published in a collection of poetry or journal possibly.

A recital of the Russian version read by Sergei Yursky (a Russian actor who died on 8th February this year sadly) set to music by Chopin:

The original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem:

 Февраль. Достать чернил и плакать!
Писать о феврале навзрыд,
Пока грохочущая слякоть
Весною черною горит.

Достать пролетку. За шесть гривен,
Чрез благовест, чрез клик колес,
Перенестись туда, где ливень
Еще шумней чернил и слез.

Где, как обугленные груши,
С деревьев тысячи грачей
Сорвутся в лужи и обрушат
Сухую грусть на дно очей.

Под ней проталины чернеют,
И ветер криками изрыт,
И чем случайней, тем вернее
Слагаются стихи навзрыд.

Плачущий Сад (Weeping Garden) by Boris Pasternak

 Dreadful! It drips and it listens -
whether it's all alone in the world
crushing a twig like lace at the window,
or is someone watching?

Palpable, though, is the pressure
of porous earth's taut swellings,
and far off, audible as in August,
midnight ripens in fields.

No, no sound, no witness,
Convincing there's no one there,
back it goes to its game of rolling
down roofs and across gutters.

I'll lift it up to my lips and listen -
whether I'm all alone in the world,
ready to burst out in sobs if I need to,
or is someone watching?

Silence. Not a leaf moving.
No dot of light, just weird
gulps and splashings about in slippers,
the lulls full of sighs and tears.


By Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к (Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
(1917)
translated by Angela Livingstone

A recital of the poem in Russian:

Below is the poem in it’s original Russian cyrillic form:

 
Ужасный! — Капнет и вслушается,
Все он ли один на свете
Мнет ветку в окне, как кружевце,
Или есть свидетель.

Но давится внятно от тягости
Отеков — земля ноздревая,
И слышно: далеко, как в августе,
Полуночь в полях назревает.

Ни звука. И нет соглядатаев.
В пустынности удостоверясь,
Берется за старое — скатывается
По кровле, за желоб и через.

К губам поднесу и прислушаюсь,
Все я ли один на свете, —
Готовый навзрыд при случае, —
Или есть свидетель.

Но тишь. И листок не шелохнется.
Ни признака зги, кроме жутких
Глотков и плескания в шлепанцах
И вздохов и слез в промежутке.

‘The Nativity? No’ by R.S. Thomas

Text above the poem in the book
 The Nativity? No.
Something has gone wrong.
There is a hole in the stable
acid rain drips through
onto an absence. Beauty
is hoisted upside down.
The truth is Pilate not
lingering for an answer.
The angels are prostrate
'beaten into the clay'
as Yeats thundered. Only Satan beams down,
poisoning with fertilisers
the place where the child
lay, harrowing the ground
for the drumming of the machine-
gun tears of the rich that are
seed of the next war.


By R. S. Thomas
from Counterpoint (1990) 2. Incarnation