Sunday, December 30, 2012

Vladimir Mayakovsky - Last Poem

* * *  
Past one o’clock you're probably in bed
The Milky Way is like Oka of silver
No need for me to rush I have no reasons left
to stir you with the lightnings of my cable fever
And so they say the incident dissolved*
the love boat smashed up on the dreary routine
We’re even there’s no use in keeping the score 
of mutual hurts affliction and spleen
Look here the world exudes an eerie calm
The night demands tribute in constellations
in hours like these I’d like to be the one
with ages history and the creation


Translated by Dina Belyayeva

The translation does not include punctuation per
Maaykovsky's original (scroll to IV)

 *Mayakovsky purposefully used a non-idiomatic expression to point out that "the  incident" was not "resolved" by anyone, but rather it was broken down by unfortunate circumstances. To indicate that he came up with a novel word in Russian (исперчен), which is a blend of “spoiled” (испорчен) and “peppered” (перчен). The English word “dissolved” is used here to render Mayakovsky’s intention albeit partially.
Mayakovsky's suicide note from April 12, 1930 read in part:

             And so they say,

             "the incident dissolved"
             the love boat smashed up
             on the dreary routine.
             I'm through with live
             and [we] should absolve
             from mutual hurts, affliction and spleen.

It was written two days before he shot himself on April 14th, 1930.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Alexander Blok - A night, a street....


A night, a street, a lamp, a drugstore,
A meaningless and dismal light. 
A quarter century outpours – 
It’s all the same. No chance of flight.

You’d die and rise anew, begotten.
All would repeat as ever might:
The street, the icy rippled water,
The store, the lamp, the lonely night.

October 10th, 1912

This poem was chosen for the city of Leiden project "Poems and Walls" 

Valery Bryusov - To a Woman

You are a woman; you’re a book of books,
You are a scroll furled up upon impression;
Its lines replete with words and ruminations,
And every instant’s wild in its crooks.

You are a woman, the witches brew creation,

Which sets on fire hardly reaching lips,
But fire-swallowers subdue their own shrieks 
By drowning mad torture in laudations.

You are a woman and in this you’re just, 

From the inception crowned in constellations,
A deity epitome within our chasms!

We serve you grinding rocky foundations,

We bear iron burden for your sake,
And pray to you with fervor in your wake!

Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Osip Mandelstam - Petersburg

* * *                                 
I returned to my city familiar to tears,
To my vessels and tonsils of childhood years,

You returned here again, then devour and cram
The fish oil from Leningrad’s hurricane lamps.

Then at once recognize the December daytime
Where egg yolk is mixed in with road tar noxious slime.

Petersburg, no, not yet, I’m not ready to die
While you're keeping my telephone numbers alive.

Petersburg, I still have the addresses at hand
That I’ll use to recover the voice of the dead.

I inhabit backstairs and my temple is smacked
By a door bell that’s handing out there by threads.

And throughout the night I expect house guests
Sliding shackles of door chains with latent unrest.


Translated by Dina Belyayeva