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) (19??) translated by Elaine Feinstein
Oh, to hell with this storm, damn this snow and hail –
pounding on the rooftop, driving in white nails!
But me – I’m not frightened, and I know my fate:
my wastrel heart has nailed me to you – nailed us tight!
by Сергей Александрович Есенин (Sergei Alexandrovich Yesenin)
a.k.a. Sergey Yesenin / Esenin
translated by Boris Dralyuk
Everything here will outlive me,
Even the houses of the stare
And this air I breathe, the spring air,
Ending its flight across the sea.
The voice of eternity is calling,
And the light moon’s light is falling
Over the blossoming cherry-tree.
It doesn’t seem a difficult road,
White, in the chalice of emerald,
Where it’s leading I won’t say…
There between the trunks, a streak
Of light reminds one of the walk
By the pond at Tsarkoye.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)
translation by D. M. Thomas
Fun Facts: Here is a blog account, with photos, of the walk along the shores of the great pond in Tsarskoye.
Akhmatova reciting her poem:
Original Russian cyrillic version of the poem:
Здесь все меня переживет,
Все, даже ветхие скворешни
И этот воздух, воздух вешний,
Морской свершивший перелет.
И голос вечности зовет
С неодолимостью нездешней,
И над цветущею черешней
Сиянье легкий месяц льет.
И кажется такой нетрудной,
Белея в чаще изумрудной,
Дорога не скажу куда…
Там средь стволов еще светлее,
И все похоже на аллею
У царскосельского пруда.
Once it was the colour of saying
Soaked my table the uglier side of a hill
With a capsized field where a school sat still
And a black and white patch of girls grew playing;
The gentle seaslides of saying I must undo
That all the charmingly drowned arise to cockcrow and kill.
When I whistled with mitching boys through a reservoir park
Where at night we stoned the cold and cuckoo
Lovers in the dirt of their leafy beds,
The shade of their trees was a word of many shades
And a lamp of lightning for the poor in the dark;
Now my saying shall be my undoing,
And every stone I wind off like a reel.
by Dylan Thomas
Fun Facts: ‘Mitching’ is Skivving, bunking, skipping school.
I know the colour rose, and it is lovely,
but not when it ripens in a tumour;
and healing greens, leaves and grass, so springlike,
in limbs that fester are not springlike.
I have seen red-blue tinged with hirsute mauve
in the plum-skin face of a suicide.
I have seen white, china white almost, stare
from behind the smashed windscreen of a car.
And the criminal, multi-coloured flash
of an H-bomb is no more beautiful
than an autopsy when the belly’s opened –
to show cathedral windows never opened.
So in the simple blessing of a rainbow,
in the bevelled edge of a sunlit mirror,
I have seen, visible, Death’s artifact
like a soldier’s ribbon on a tunic tacked.
by Dannie Abse
from a small desperation (1968)