Урал впервые (The Urals For The First Time) by Boris Pasternak

Without obstetrician, in darkness, unconscious,
The towering Urals, hands clawing the night,
Yelled out in travail and fainted away,
Blinded by agony, gave birth to light.

In thunder, the masses and bronzes of mountains,
Accidentally struck, avalanched down.
The train went on panting. And somewhere this made
The spectres of firs go shyly to ground.

The smoke-haze at dawn was a soporific,
Administered slyly – to mountain and factory -
By men lighting stoves, by sulphurous dragons,
As thieves slip a drug in a traveller's tea.

They came in to fire. From the crimson horizon
Down to their timberline destination,
Asians were skiing with crowns for the pines.
And summoning them to their coronation.

And the pines, shaggy monarchs, in order of precedence
Rising up, stepped out, row on row
On to a damascened cloth-of-gold carpet
Spread with the orange of crusted snow.


by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к
(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)
(1916)
from Поверх барьеров (Over The Barriers)
translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
The poem recited by Anastasiya Dikovistkaya in Russian.

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

Урал впервые

Без родовспомогательницы, во мраке, без памяти,
На ночь натыкаясь руками, Урала
Твердыня орала и, падая замертво,
В мученьях ослепшая, утро рожала.

Гремя опрокидывались нечаянно задетые
Громады и бронзы массивов каких-то.
Пыхтел пассажирский. И, где-то от этого
Шарахаясь, падали призраки пихты.

Коптивший рассвет был снотворным. Не иначе:
Он им был подсыпан - заводам и горам -
Лесным печником, злоязычным Горынычем,
Как опий попутчику опытным вором.

Очнулись в огне. С горизонта пунцового
На лыжах спускались к лесам азиатцы,
Лизали подошвы и соснам подсовывали
Короны и звали на царство венчаться.

И сосны, повстав и храня иерархию
Мохнатых монархов, вступали
На устланный наста оранжевым бархатом
Покров из камки и сусали.

‘Разрывы круглых бухт, и хрящ, и синева’ a.k.a. ‘Breaks in round bays, and shingle, and blue’ by Osip Mandelstam

Breaks in round bays, and shingle, and blue,
and a slow sail continued by a cloud -
I hardly knew you; I've been torn from you:
longer than organ fugues – the sea's bitter grasses,
fake tresses – and their long lie stinks,
my head swims with iron tenderness,
the rust gnaws bit by bit the sloping bank...
On what new sands does my head sink?
You, guttural Urals, broad-shouldered Volga lands,
or this dead-flat plain – here are all my rights,
and, full-lunged, gotta go on breathing them.


by Осип Эмильевич Мандельштам
(Osip Emilyevich Mandelshtam.)
His surname is commonly latinised as Mandelstam)
(4 February 1937)
translated by Andrew Davis

Below is the original Russian Cyrillic version:

Разрывы круглых бухт, и хрящ, и синева,
И парус медленный, что облаком продолжен,-
Я с вами разлучен, вас оценив едва:
Длинней органных фуг - горька морей трава,
Ложноволосая,- и пахнет долгой ложью,
Железной нежностью хмелеет голова,
И ржавчина чуть-чуть отлогий берег гложет...
Что ж мне под голову другой песок подложен?
Ты, горловой Урал, плечистое Поволжье
Иль этот ровный край - вот все мои права,
И полной грудью их вдыхать еще я должен.

Additional information:

The Volga (Во́лга) is the longest river in Europe with a catchment area of 1,350,000 square kilometres. It is also Europe’s largest river in terms of discharge and drainage basin. The river flows through central Russia and into the Caspian Sea, and is widely regarded as the national river of Russia. Eleven of the twenty largest cities of Russia, including the capital, Moscow, are located in the Volga’s drainage basin. Some of the largest reservoirs in the world are located along the Volga.

The river has a symbolic meaning in Russian culture and is often referred to as Волга-матушка Volga-Matushka (Mother Volga) in Russian literature and folklore.

The Ural Mountains ( Ура́льские го́ры), or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River and northwestern Kazakhstan. The mountain range forms part of the conventional boundary between the continents of Europe and Asia. Vaygach Island and the islands of Novaya Zemlya form a further continuation of the chain to the north into the Arctic Ocean.

The Urals have been viewed by Russians as a “treasure box” of mineral resources, which were the basis for its extensive industrial development. In addition to iron and copper the Urals were a source of gold, malachite, alexandrite, and other gems such as those used by the court jeweller Fabergé. As Russians in other regions gather mushrooms or berries, Uralians gather mineral specimens and gems. Dmitry Mamin-Sibiryak (1852–1912) Pavel Bazhov (1879–1950), as well as Aleksey Ivanov and Olga Slavnikova, post-Soviet writers, have written of the region.

The region served as a military stronghold during Peter the Great’s Great Northern War with Sweden, during Stalin’s rule when the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Complex was built and Russian industry relocated to the Urals during the Nazi advance at the beginning of World War II, and as the center of the Soviet nuclear industry during the Cold War. Extreme levels of air, water, and radiological contamination and pollution by industrial wastes resulted. Population exodus resulted, and economic depression at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, but in post-Soviet times additional mineral exploration, particularly in the northern Urals, has been productive and the region has attracted industrial investment.