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).

The Moment by Waldo Williams

All mention of the Moment
Scholars must do without.
River suspends its flowing
And rock cries out
Witness to what
Our two eyes have no sight for
And our ears hear not.

Breeze among the breezes,
Sun from beyond the sun,
Truly our homeland’s wonder
On earth is come
With inviolate power –
And we know by the Moment’s coming
We are born for the Hour.

by Waldo Williams
translated by Tony Conran

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).

Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день! (What A Sweet Little Day…) by Yury Odarchenko

What a sweet little day, what a day!
All day long such rubbish.
In my soul and at the market and in the church
And in romantic verses,
In the drabbest hut, in a palace…
And no period at the end…
What a sweet little day, what a day!
Foggy day. And a shadow of the abyss
In my soul, at the market, in church,
And in dramatic poetry.
And if the sun comes up,
And leads death by the hand,
Then it’ll be the same –
It’s both cramped and dark in a coffin.

by Юрий Павлович Одарченко
(Yury Pavlovich Odarchenko)
translated by Nina Kossman

Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день!…

Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день!
Весь день такая дребедень:
В душе, на ярмарке, в церквах
И в романтических стихах,
В последней хате, во дворце…
И точки нету на конце…
Денёчек, денёчек, вот так день!
Туманный день. И бездны тень
В душе, на ярмарке, в церквах
И в драматических стихах.
А если солнышко взойдет
И смерть под ручку приведет,
То это будет все равно —
В гробу и тесно и темно

Additional information: The Russian language Wikipedia entry about him. A PDF of a collection of some of his poetry and prose in Russian. This poem is on page 54 of the PDF.

Odarchenko was born in the Ukraine and little of his life is known until he emigrated. He lived in emigration in Paris, where he owned a boutique selling silk dresses that he hand-painted. He lived outside the Paris émigré literary world, though in the 1930s he became a close friend of Vladimir Smolensky and in 1947 published an almanac with the participation of Ivan Bunin, Gregory Ivanov, Aleksei Remizov, Boris Zaitsev, and others. His poetry began to appear seperately in journals in 1948 and he managed to publish a single slim volume of collected verse, Deniok (Little Day), in 1949.

His underappreciated poetry was highly professional, reaching the level of Ivanov, one of the finest poets of emigration. Odarchenko and Ivanov share the capacity to write not by lines but by stanzas; in their poetry a quatrain seems not made of collected parts but cast as a single piece. Odarchenko’s verse can be at once bother solidly dense and light-bodied. He chose to take his own life.

Biographical information about Odarchenko, p.453, ‘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).