Friday, June 5, 2015

Boris Pasternak - Hamlet

Noises ebbed. I entered the stage door.          
Leaning up against the door jamb, still
I attempt to piece from distant echoes,
What the future has in store for me.
I am scrutinized by nightly darkness
With a thousand binoculars to see.
Only if you’re willing, Abba Father,                    
Take this cup of suffering from me.                    
I am fond of your persistent plot line,               
And quite willing to take on the role.
But another drama is unfolding,                                           
And this time I wish to be let go.
But the plot is thought through and predestined,
And the journey end is firmly sealed.
I’m alone, all drowned in Phariseeism.
Life is not a stroll across a field.

Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Nikolay Gumilyov - Yet All But Once

Yet all but once you’ll reminisce of me
And of my world mysterious and thrilling,
The quirky world of songs and fervency,
But among all, unique and undeceiving.

It could have been yours also, but alas,
It was too much for you, or was too scanty,
I must have failed at poetry and thus
Impiously I beg for you the Heavens.

But every time your tiredly stooped
And said, “I would not dare to remember.
For I was lured by the other world,
The plain and brutish beautiful contender.”


Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Russian original


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Osip Mandelstam - In the yard

* * *
In the yard I washed up late at night -
Rough-hewn stars shone on the vault of heaven.
On the ax like salt the starlight's bright,
And the barrel cooled filled to the brim forsaken.

All the gates are padlocked, and the Earth
Comes across as consciousness severe, -
One can’t find any premise worth
This much pure truth to persevere. 

In the barrel stars like salt dissolve,
And the water chill is dark and rueful.
Death is purer, woe is saltier and all
On the Earth’s more terrible and truthful.


Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Marina Tsvetaeva - Oh, the flippancy

* * *
Oh, the flippancy, charming crime,
My companion, and my sweet foe!
You splashed laughter into my eyes,
Spiked my blood with mazurka flow.

Taught that keeping the wedding band,
Doesn't matter, together or parting!
Willy-nilly to start at the end,
And to quit before even starting.

Be like steel blades and blades of grass,
In this life where we grow defenseless...
- To treat sadness with chocolate bars,
And to laugh in the passersby faces!

March 3, 1915

Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Russian original


Marina Tsvetaeva - Under a Velvet Throw

* * *
Remembering the last night vision,
Caressed under a velvet throw.
What happen then? And who was winning? 
Who’s overthrown?

Rethinking everything all over, 
Tormented over and above,
I could not name it, could not know it,
Or was it love?

Who was the hunter, who was hunted?
The devilish confusing plot!
What did the fluffy kitty fathom
While it have purred?

And in that battle of willpowers
Who was a toy? And in whose hand?
Whose heart - was yours or mine entirely - 
Skipped, raced and sped?

And yet I’m mystified - What was it?
Why is this longing and this woe?
I still don’t know: Have I won it?
Or have I lost?

October 23, 1914

Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Russian original

The poem was popularized as a song form 1984 movie A Cruel Romance


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sergei Yesenin - It makes me sad

* * *
It makes me sad to look at you,
Oh, what a pain, or what a sorrow!
We’re left with willows’ copper hue
In this September chilly morrow.
Strange lips have scattered and dispelled
Your body warmth and tender quivers.
As if my torpid soul repelled
The drizzle through erratic shivers.
So what! I’m not afraid of this.
There is a joy for me to witness.
Though nothing left to reminisce,
But for the yellow rot and wetness.
Though I have not conserved myself
For peaceful life, for gentle smiles...
How many blunders I befell?
The roads I walked… How many miles?
Pathetic life, pathetic split,
What happened will keep on resurging.
The graveyard of our orchard spilled
The gnawed up bare-bone birches.
And so we’ll bloom and fade away
Like noises from a barren orchard…
Since winter doesn't bring bouquets,
No use to wallow in misfortune.


Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Zinaida Gippius - All It

Brassy noise and smoky powder,
Sticky-scarlet streams amass,
Clammy swish of crawling bodies…
Where are them and where are us?

No more baseless expectations,
Unavailing victories,
And contended aspirations 
Died with fervent reveries.

All are one, we’re all conjoined,
Us or them, Death doesn't choose.
That machine continues churning,
And the war is chewing chew.


Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Russian original


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Osip Mandelstam - Impressionism

For us the artist reproduced
The lilac in the deepest faint,
And on the canvas he diffused
Like scabs, the piercing steps of paint.

He grasped the density of paint,
And the parched vision of his summer,
Warmed up within the lilac brain,
Dilated in a stifling slumber.

The lilac shadow’s growing lush,
 A whistle or a whip is quenching.
You’d say the cooks in dinner rush          
Are dressing pigeons in the kitchen.

The swings are faintly discerned,
And veils are vaguely manifested,
And in this sun-drenched smogarsbord
A bumble bee reigns uncontested.

May 23, 1932

Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Monday, February 23, 2015

Alexander Blok - The Lady Unknown

At evening times above the restaurants
The sultry air’s harsh and stale.
The spirit of the spring-time pestilence
Reigns over drunken muffled wails.

And further up in dusty alley ways,
Beyond the summer cottage sloth,
A baker’s shop sign glistens gaudily,
And children’s cries are heard above.

And every evening in the countryside,
Amidst potholes with bowlers tipped,
The seasoned dandies saunter gratified,
Amusing damsels with their wit.

Lakeside the creaky oars reverberate
To flirty squeals of lady folks,
And astral discus, dull and obdurate,
Squirms in the sky above it all.

And every night my faithful soul mate
Stares back from hollows of my wine,
Akin to me, subdued and desolate,
To mystic liquid he resigned.

Around the nearby tables mesmerized
The waiters sleepily repass,
And drunkards with the rabbit-like red eyes
Proclaim, “In vino veritas!”

And every night as if the time was set
(or am I dreaming in this daze?)
A silk swathed maiden’s misty silhouette
Glides through the restaurant's drunken haze.

And slowly moving through the drunken guests,
Without an escort, indiscreet,
Emitting perfumes and exquisite mists
She settles at the window seat.

And her snug silks exude the ancient tales,
And doleful plumes atop her hat
Cascade and twine over the wispy veil,
In rings her narrow hand’s beset.

And overwhelmed by strange proximity
I look beyond the dusky veil,
And see the shore of charming verity,
And the charmed distance to prevail.

I am entrusted with deep mysteries,
Endowed with the Sun to hold,
And acrid wine awash in sorceries
Have pierced through fissures of my soul.

And ostrich feathers in cascading swells
Are swaying softly in my brain,
And deep blue eyes as deep blue sinkhole wells
Bloom in the distance on a plain.

Within my soul a treasure’s buried
And I’m the keeper of the key,
So right you are, grotesque inebriate, 
I know, the truth resides in guilt.*

April 24th, 1906

*In the last line Blok played up the ambiguity stemming from the Russian translation of the Latin phrase "in vino veritas". In Russian the words "wine" and "guilt" are homonyms, they share the same spelling and pronunciation in singular ablative case, but have different meanings. Unlike in many other translations prior to this, the alternate meaning of the last line was never brought to the readers' attention. This ambiguity is untranslatable and can be only explained in a footnote; however, it is important to recognize the expression of guilt in the juxtaposition of the beautiful and the vulgar. That is the essence of Blok's symbolism.

Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sergei Yesenin - Oh, What a Night!

Oh, what a night! I cannot sleep.
Unsettled by this blazing moonness.
As if I reverently keep
Within my soul the wasted youth ways.

Oh, lover of the tepid days,
Do not take dalliance for feelings,
But let these lucid moonlight rays
Rain streaming down on my pillow.

Allow them to highlight enough
My writhen features, wry and garish,
For you can’t possibly unlove
The likeness you have never cherished.

True love transpires only once,
And just for this you seem so distant,
As linden trees are calling us
While sinking legs in snowy vistas.

I know this well and so do you,
That in this blue moonlight on lindens
We will not find any blooms
Inside the frosted snowy Eden.

We loved so many years ago,
You loved not me, I loved the other,
And we indifferently swore
To swift romance of easy lovers.

Yet still embrace, caress and kiss
With playful hedonism of passion,
Allow May invade my dreams
And usher in the one I treasure.

November 30, 1925

Translated by Dina Belyayeva

Russian original

Here's how the poem sounds in Russian