Tidal by R. S. Thomas

The waves run up the shore
and fall back. I run
up the approaches of God
and fall back. The breakers return
reaching a little further,
gnawing away at the main land.
They have done this thousands
of years, exposing little by little
the rock under the soil’s face.
I must imitate them only
in my return to the assault,
not in their violence. Dashing
my prayers at him will achieve
little other than the exposure
of the rock under his surface.
My returns must be made
on my knees. Let despair be known
as my ebb-tide; but let prayer
have its springs, too, brimming,
disarming him; discovering somewhere
among his fissures deposits of mercy
where trust may take root and grow.

by R. S. Thomas
from Mass for Hard Times (1992)

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Сосны (Pine Trees) by Boris Pasternak

In grass, among wild balsam,
Dog-dasies and lilies, we lie,
Our arms thrown back behind us,
Our faces turned to the sky.

The grass in the pine-wood ride
Is impenetrably thick.
We look at each other and shift
A shoulder-blade or a cheek.

And there, for a time immortal,
We are numbered among the trees
And liberated from aches,
Disease, and the last disease.

With deliberate monotony,
Like blue oil from green eaves,
The sky pours down on the ground,
Dappling and staining our sleeves.

We share the repose of the pines
To the ant’s accompaniment,
Inhaling the soporific
Incense-and-lemon scent.

So fiercely the fiery trunks
Leap up against the blue,
And under our resting heads
So long our hands rest too,

So broad our field of vision,
So docile all things on all sides,
That somewhere beyond the trunks
I imagine the surge of tides.

There waves are higher than branches,
And collapsing against the shore
They hurl down a hail of shrimps
From the ocean’s turbulent floor.

And at evening, the sunset floats
On corks behind a trawler
And, shimmering with fish oil
And amber mist, grows smaller.

Twilight descends and slowly
The moon hides all trace of day
Beneath the black magic of water,
Beneath the white magic of spray.

And waves grow louder and higher
And the crowd at the floating café
Surrounds the pillar whose poster
Is a blur from far away.

.

by Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к

(Boris Leonidovich Pasternak)

from On Early Trains

(1941)

translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France

A recital of the poem in Russian. Read by E. Pasternak

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

Сосны

В траве, меж диких бальзаминов,
Ромашек и лесных купав,
Лежим мы, руки запрокинув
И к небу головы задрав.

Трава на просеке сосновой
Непроходима и густа.
Мы переглянемся и снова
Меняем позы и места.

И вот, бессмертные на время,
Мы к лику сосен причтены
И от болезней, эпидемий
И смерти освобождены.

С намеренным однообразьем,
Как мазь, густая синева
Ложится зайчиками наземь
И пачкает нам рукава.

Мы делим отдых краснолесья,
Под копошенье мураша
Сосновою снотворной смесью
Лимона с ладаном дыша.

И так неистовы на синем
Разбеги огненных стволов,
И мы так долго рук не вынем
Из-под заломленных голов,

И столько широты во взоре,
И так покорны все извне,
Что где-то за стволами море
Мерещится все время мне.

Там волны выше этих веток
И, сваливаясь с валуна,
Обрушивают град креветок
Со взбаламученного дна.

А вечерами за буксиром
На пробках тянется заря
И отливает рыбьим жиром
И мглистой дымкой янтаря.

Смеркается, и постепенно
Луна хоронит все следы
Под белой магией пены
И черной магией воды.

А волны все шумней и выше,
И публика на поплавке
Толпится у столба с афишей,
Неразличимой вдалеке.

When the Mist Clears by Donna Menadue

A mass of clinging entrapment

graces the drifting storm

in a conspiracy of eeriness

on a cloudy day.

Frozen faces upturned to the waves;

voyagers threadbare

discussing ways and means;

bold an evil drifting on the tide,

It is rumoured in these parts

that gold-heavy galleons

vanish in the sun

when the mist clears.

.

.

By Donna Menadue

Парус (The Sail) by Mikhail Lermontov

Lone sail against blue sea-mist:
what is it seeking?
What forsaken?

Wind, waves, and bending mast:
not happiness...
not happiness.
In beam of gold, on azure
the rebel flees
for stormy seas.

by Михаил Юрьевич Лермонтов
(Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov)
(1832)
translated by Anthony Wood
A recital of the poem in Russian

Below is the poem in its original Russian Cyrillic form:

Парус


Белеет парус одинокой
В тумане моря голубом!..
Что ищет он в стране далекой?
Что кинул он в краю родном?...
Играют волны — ветер свищет,
И мачта гнется и скрыпит...
Увы! Он счастия не ищет
И не от счастия бежит!
Под ним струя светлей лазури,
Над ним луч солнца золотой...
А он, мятежный, просит бури,
Как будто в бурях есть покой!

Additional notes: This is another alternative translation of Lermontov’s poem Парус compared to those made by Frances Cornford and Esther Polianowsky Salaman and Robert Chandler which, respectively, closely reproduced the original’s external form and presented a version which is more condensed. This version is the most concise retaining the incredible impact of the poem without losing it’s meaning.

The Sail was written when Mikhail Lermontov was only 17 years old in 1832. This was the year when he was forced to leave Moscow and his university studies. Recorded in a letter sent by Maria Lopukhina, whom he had sent the first version of the poem, upon his arrival in Saint Petersburg Lermontov immediately produced this poem’s outline while walking along the Gulf of Finland’s shoreline.

Pre-Cambrian by R. S. Thomas

Here I think of the centuries,

six million of them, they say.

Yesterday a fine rain fell;

today the warmth has brought out the crowds.

After Christ, what? The molecules

are without redemption. My shadow

sunning itself on this stone

remembers the lava. Zeus looked down

on a brave world, but there was

no love there; the architecture

of their temples was less permanent

than these waves. Plato, Aristotle,

all those who furrow the calmness

of their foreheads are responsible

for the bomb. I am charmed here

by the serenity of the reflections

in the sea's mirror. It is a window

as well. What I need

now is a faith to enable me to out-stare

the grinning faces of the inmates of its asylum,

the failed experiments God put away.


by R. S. Thomas

from Frequencies (1978)