I was feeding the flock of keys out of my hand To a beating of wings. I was standing on tiptoe, My hands reaching out to the splashing and screaming My sleeve was rolled up and night brushed my elbow.
And it was pitch dark. And there was a pond And waves. And the love-birds and suchlike, it seemed, Would surely be pecked to death long before those Whose black, strident, savage beaks screamed.
And there was a pond. And it was pitch dark Except where the lilies like torches were flickering. A wave was gnawing the planks of the dinghy. And birds at my elbow were snapping and bickering.
Night rattled like phlegm in the throats of the ponds. The fledgling had yet to be fed, it seemed, And the females would peck it to death long before The roulades would cease in the gullet that screamed.
by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к (Boris Leonidovich Pasternak) (1916) from Поверх барьеров (Over The Barriers) translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France
Beneath is the original, Russian Cyrillic, version of the poem.
Импровизация Я клавишей стаю кормил с руки
Под хлопанье крыльев, плеск и клекот.
Я вытянул руки, я встал на носки,
Рукав завернулся, ночь терлась о локоть.
И было темно. И это был пруд
И волны.- И птиц из породы люблю вас,
Казалось, скорей умертвят, чем умрут
Крикливые, черные, крепкие клювы.
И это был пруд. И было темно.
Пылали кубышки с полуночным дегтем.
И было волною обглодано дно
У лодки. И грызлися птицы у локтя.
И ночь полоскалась в гортанях запруд,
Казалось, покамест птенец не накормлен,
И самки скорей умертвят, чем умрут
Рулады в крикливом, искривленном горле.
What a sturdy square block of a thing you are!
Such a fine, white, self-satisfied creature!
Sometimes you stand dumb as a boulder
or drop off into a cold sleep, or
Sometimes your metal belly rumbles, but there's
no point in working out your meaning.
Of all machines the fridge must be the
most good-natured; hog-fat and
roomy as a snow-drift, it
must be said to hold the purest heart.
Firmly under human domination
even the cold that creeps out from it
is only a small cold blast, too small
to threaten any freeze-up of our future.
If ever robots rise in revolution,
if ever they attack the human race,
at least you refrigerators won't be
amongst the ones to break the peace.
For you are the house-dog of machinery
a faithful and contented animal;
so give your door a docile wag for Man,
your living friend, and show him how you smile.
by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий
(Boris Abramovich Slutsky)
translated by Elaine Feinstein
Convergences, Of the spirit! What Century, love? I, Too; you remember - Brescia? This sunlight reminds Of the brocade. I dined Long. And now the music Of darkness in your eyes Sounds. But Brescia, And the spreading foliage Of smoke! With Yeats' birds Grown hoarse. Artificer Of the years, is this Your answer? The long dream Unwound; we followed Through time to the tryst With ourselves. But wheels roll Between and the shadow Of the plane falls. The Victim remains Nameless on the tall Steps. Master, I Do not wish, I do not wish To continue.
by R. S. Thomas from H'm (1972)
The pavane, pavan, paven, pavin, pavian, pavine, or pavyn (It. pavana, padovana; Ger. Paduana) is a slow processional dance common in Europe during the 16th century (Renaissance).
Also the poem might refer to the pavane, a sedate and dignified couple dance, similar to the 15th-century basse danse. The music which accompanied it appears originally to have been fast or moderately fast but, like many other dances, became slower over time.
Brescia is a city and comune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Alps, a few kilometres from the lakes Garda and Iseo. With a population of more than 200,000, it is the second largest city in the region and the fourth of northwest Italy. The urban area of Brescia extends beyond the administrative city limits and has a population of 672,822, while over 1.5 million people live in its metropolitan area. The city is the administrative capital of the Province of Brescia, one of the largest in Italy, with over 1,200,000 inhabitants.
Solar batteries and the great poets can work directly off the sun; while other batteries and smaller poets need continual recharging: charging up with fame, or vodka, or perhaps they get recharging from other poets' usage.
by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий (Boris Abramovich Slutsky) (19??) translated by Elaine Feinstein
Beneath is the original Russian Cyrillic version of the poem (Honestly the translation above, though definitely based on the poem below, seem like it’s for a completely different poem with a similar theme but they share the name and I can find no alternatives that share the title!)
Физики поднаторели — выполнили программу, солнечные батареи от солнца работают прямо.
А Гезиод задолго до современной науки только от солнца работал, а также мы, его внуки.
Солнце, вёдро, счастье — вот источники тока, питающие все чаще поэтов нашего толка.
Но мы и от гнева — можем, и от печали — будем. И все-таки книги вложим в походные сумки людям.
Мы — от льгот и от тягот вдоль вселенной несемся, а батареи могут только от солнца.
Additional information: I came across the following, that I’ve roughly translated from Russian, which is quite interesting about one of his other poems and a repeated theme he used.
“Physicists and Lyrics” ( 1959 ) – one of the most famous poems by Boris Slutsky .
According to the memoirs of Boris Slutsky, the poem was written in Tarusa inspired by the discussion of cybernetics theory by Igor Poletaev and Alexei Lyapunov with the writer Ilya Erenburg , which unfolded on the pages of the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda. The poem, where Slutsky sided with the opponents of Ehrenburg, was published in Literaturnaya Gazeta in the issue of October 13, 1959.
“Physicists and Lyrics” is one of the most famous poems by Slutsky. Its name has become a ‘winged expression’ [i.e what Russian like to refer to their ‘idioms’ as] and is used to refer to the division of “people of science and people of art”.
As Slutsky recalled, Erenburg reacted to the poem “with restrained perplexity,” and the poet Mikhail Dudin , when he was told that the poem was humorous, replied: “We do not understand jokes”. The motive of “physicists” sounded in Slutsky’s poetry both earlier and later (“They gave us black bread on cards …”, “Physicists and people”, “Solar batteries”, “Lyrics and physicists”), and the author’s attitude was not so clear. In a later poem, “Lyrics and Physics,” Slutsky refuses to acknowledge the victory of “physicists”.
Friends recommended the new Polish film at the Academy in Oxford Street. So we joined the ever melancholy queue of cinemas. A wind blew faint suggestions of rain towards us, and an accordion. Later, uneasy, in the velvet dark we peered through the cut-out oblong window at the spotlit drama of our nightmares: images of Auschwitz almost authentic, the human obscenity in close-up. Certainly we could imagine the stench.
Resenting it, we forgot the barbed wire was but a prop, and could not scratch the eye: those striped victims merely actors like us. We saw the Camp orchestra assembled, we heard the solemn gaiety of Bach, scored by the loud arrival of an engine, its impotent cry, and its guttural trucks. We watched, as we munched milk chocolate, trustful children, no older than our own, strolling into the chambers without fuss, whilst smoke, black and curly, oozed from chimneys.
by Dannie Abse from A Small Desperation (1968)
Interesting fact: Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff, Wales, to a Jewish family. He was the younger brother of politician and reformer Leo Abse and the eminent psychoanalyst, Wilfred Abse. Unusually for a middle-class Jewish boy, Dannie Abse attended St Illtyd’s College, a working-class Catholic school in Splott.