Blue sky is slowly melting,
A word is frozen in my mouth;
And every nerve is for a retreat waiting,
For quiet music of the past.
Slower, slower, day, while fixing
This dissonant heart!
Everything I long to take in
From a garden in the dusk.
Yellow bushes from the lawn,
Flower forgotten by the ridge,
Contour of the balcony, half-thrown,
Wrapped in verdant green.
Wrathful axes of the damage,
Everything that’s been –
So that heart’d begin to tremble
Recognizing vanished dreams…
(Innokenty Annensky, from ‘Quiet Songs’, p.1904, not translated before)
This soul is the elysium of shades
So effervescent, crystalline and silent,
From times of tempests now away,
By common thoughts and joys inspired not.
Tell, oh my soul, elysium of shades,
What are your bonds with life that perished
Between the phantoms of past better days
And heartless crowd unblemished? ..
(Fyodor Tyutchev, written in mid-1830s)
Yelena S., 2013
There will be nobody at home
In twilight on a winter day
By curtains framed. And all alone;
Through windows seen an empty space.
Only pale flakes caught by glimpses,
Flashes falling, wet and white.
Only roofs and snowy traces,
Roofs and snow – no one in sight.
King of frost will show his crown,
I’ll be conquered here again
Haunted by evaporating power,
Taken by my memories regained.
And wood will press on windowpanes
With icy famine, strange and heavy,
Once more, of visions still ashamed
I’ll think of other wintertimes.. So dreary.
But the quiver of your shadow
Will be present near my door,
Far-off footsteps will be measured
By the silence of the dawn.
You’ll appear in the entrance
Clothed in snow, bright and plain,
Sewn somehow by the radiance
Out of which snowflakes are made.
(Boris Pasternak, 1931)
Yelena S., 2012
Black skies descended to the alley;
My heart is weary – not to overcome this night;
Obscure voices, bonfires quenched –
Is this what’s left of dreams in sight?
Oh, how dark the satin of her dresses was,
Too pale the décolleté between the shoulder straps,
How I pitied those dissolving eyes
And snowy leather of her hands in devout prayers…
And how much soul was scattered there
Amidst the strewn, rebellious, numb!
And sounds, once brought up in silence,
Those violet and starred gracious ones!…
Like from a thread, in agitation torn,
Among the beams of moon, so gently bent,
Into the dewy grass the amethysts are rolling
To fade without a trace.
(Innokenty Annensky, ‘The Cypress Casket’, from ‘Trefoil of the crowd’, p.1910)
Gas flashes in a choking sound
Over the deadened glow of glances,
And then a spleen, jet-black, abound
In fumes set out from abandoned tables.
And there, in the depth of faces
In weariness, a habit hidden,
One’s solving on the faded pages
A task annoying – our existence.
(Innokenty Annensky, ‘Quiet Songs’, p. 1904)
Wait for me, and I’ll return,
Wait, and I will come.
Wait when heavy yellow rains
Try to bring you down.
Wait through summer’s wasting heat,
Wait through falling snow,
Wait when others still repeat
Not to stay alone.
Wait with hope when letters stop,
Strong and tough just be…
Turn away from those who’re stern,
From their grief stay free.
Wait for me, and I’ll return
To escape the ones who mourn,
Keep away your heart.
Let my son and mother cry
And believe I am dead.
And ignore friends’ tears around
When weak hope is spent.
Bitter wine they’ll drink..Forget,
Their compassion, too.
Wait for me, believe instead..
Pray and smile once more.
Wait for me, and I’ll return.
I will go through flame.
I’ll be back to you, I’ll burn
Any threat’s disgrace.
They will never understand
How among the fire
Out of lethal empty space
I have come alive.
Only you and I will know why
I am at home again..
Why you’ve learned to wait in time
Like nobody has.
(Konstantin Simonov, 1941)
This poem was written and dedicated to V.Serova by Konstantin Simonov (1915-1979) in 1941. During the Great Patriotic War Simonov was a frontline correspondent for the newspaper ‘Krasnaya Zvezda'(‘Red Star’) . It was published in the newspaper ‘Pravda’ in February 1942, when the nazi forces were repulsed from Moscow. Soldiers cut it out of newspapers, copied it as they sat in their dugouts, learned it by heart and sent it in letters to their wives and sweethearts. It was found in the breast pockets of the wounded and the dead. Other frontline poems of Simonov were also tremendously popular.
In slow motion an autumn day is coming,
A yellow leaf is spinning tardily,
The day’s quite fresh, the air divinely clear –
My soul shall not avoid its unseen fading.
Thus, it grows older every day,
And every year spins like yellow leafs,
As I enliven memories, seems to me
That autumns of the years past were not so sad.
(Alexander Blok, ‘Ante Lucem’, 5.01.1900)