Modern Russian poetry…
From the very start, the Russian PEN center proved to be an extraordinary frame for executing this project. Ekaterina Turchanova, Russian PEN’s experienced secretary, in accordance with the Russian PEN management, whose president is the preeminent Andrej Bitov, accepted my proposal. This proposal was created on behalf of the Collection of Poetry, Fiction, and Essay “Diversity” founded by the Committee for Translation and Linguistic Rights of the International PEN in 2003.
Ekaterina Turchanova was working on the selection during 2013 and at the very beginning of 2014 she sent us her selection – “Twelve (Modern) Russian Poets”. Only three of the poets belong to the older generation (Ina Lisnianskaya , Yvgenu Rein , Oleg Chukhontsev ) while the other nine were born after World War II: Vladimir Aleinikov (1946), Yuri Kublanovsky (1947), Alexey Alyokhin (1949), Efim Bershin (1951), Sergei Gandalevsky (1952), Olesya Nikolaeva (1955), Yvgeny Chigrin (1961), Viktor Kulle (1962), and Maxim Amelin (1970).
Thereupon Tanja Uroshevik and I agreed that she would do the translation from Russian into Macedonian. Tanja, a distinguished Macedonian writer (of Russian descent), an expert in Russian literature, culture, and language and no doubt the best literary translator from Russian in the Republic of Macedonia, devoted herself to translate the poetry.
If something essential and concise is to be emphasized about the poetry by the twelve modern Russian poets represented in this book, it is the fact that even today, not only at the beginning of the 20th century, Russian poetry nurtures the principle of memory (intellect, memory, intertextual archive) and at the same time opens the empty, unwritten pages for new contents, new linguistic and stylistic methods and poetics. So, both in the era of modern avant-garde movements (futurism, acmeism, imaginary poetry) and in the era of postmodernism as well Russian poetry lives and is doubly intoned – it communicates with the contemporaneity sentimentally, yet does not cease its communication with the past and with the spiritual heritage (linguistic, collective memory, archetypal patterns). Thence the stratification in the poetic statements and stylistic patterns, the fascinating associations, allusions, and symbols. Thence the authenticity of the poetic combinations and the delicacy of the world of the poem.
Modern Russian poetry depicted in this small yet indicative selection of twelve poets contains numerous reflections on the contradictory 20th century Russian history. Russian poetry of the second half of the 20th century is a poetic history of ideas and feelings that bears a Russian quality and a European touch. It is a fragmentary, personal and symbolic variant of the Russian national and cultural history. This is especially important since a few of the represented poets in this book are paradigmatic examples of the act of people’s resistance during the long years of restrained human rights and repression (until the 90s), while the other poets create during the period of social, political, and cultural polyphony (heteroglossia). This contradictory, existential, emotional, spiritual, and ideological model is reflected – in a specific manner – in the individual opuses of the Russian poets and shapes their creative identity. The same model causes the charm of the Russian poetry simultaneously to be sparkly and melancholic, witty and ironic, marked with discerning criticism and self-criticism.
Excerpt from the foreword “Like Home” by acad. Katica Kulavkova to the anthology “Twelve Russian Poets”, published by Poetiki, 2015
Translated by: Robert Raman
How is the music springing up again?
Wherefrom it always does
It tends to be sudden, it tends it occur
Not often, and mainly sometimes.
Wherever it descends, explain?
I don’t need an answer-I know it enough
These lights swell on raid now
And anchor’s dual sign.
And who here is tell me, wherefrom it goes
Carrying sails aweigh,
In radiance and darkness orchestra or fleet,
Farewell glorifying beauty?
I don’t need a hint-I’m too familiar
With knowledge that nobody has,-
And now and again with its magical language
And speech and my voice are at one.
We soldered with music- and floating together,
Between the soil and the sphere of the heavens,
I inbreathe the air, which live
In which has not yet disappeared.
I swallow the wind, smells of anguish,
And looked high the moon –
And all the ships that lying on the deepness of sea
Will rise at once to me.
And those who have been raised in the salted quietness
And came up from cabins,
Now stand in the name of the immortal soul,
singing the speechless song.
The song grows and breaks into the chest,
it full of significance and meaning –
So long it discloses the ancient substance
Of sound at all the times.
WHEN IN THE PROVINCE
When in the province suffer poplars
All lights are turned off, and window opened,
I will live where wires on the fields
And martlets broken wings
I will live in the province , where in March ,
Where broken icicles in a rut
Ring slightly, but if ring,
They’ve got the echo by the cloud that above the market
Where sparrows and the watchman sleeping,
And my old poems invocation sound
In that old house sound
Where pigeons are glued to walls,
I will be live until the snow melts away,
While poetry is reading quietly by the end
While living in a dream and cry
The tired big watchman ,
While iced wires
While friends are live, and no beloved,
Until it melts in gardens on the March
That unchanging, hidden frost
As long as the veins on temples smoulder ,
As long as the sky does not compare with the earth,
As long as the sadness in outstretched hands
No need in gifts – I ‘m worthless,
I’ll be living while the Earth is living,
And lights are turned off, and window opened,
When poplars suffer in the province,
And martlets broken wings.
On July night I’m recollecting her
She was my temporal joy,
In the heathens of sadness, in captivity of kindness
She was giving away other flowers.
A stranger in the land in all the mirrors,
Which image of yours offended,
And now and again on the light wings you move
Native among clairvoyants.
I hadn’t to call you and staying alone,
Where fines of the moments are stinging,-
Though shadows which double are passed the moon,
And stars aren’t friends to the rains.
How pearls sick, not feeling the heat,
Without touching warmth of body,
It is long time ago, the day that has gone
But still is remembered so much.
The sky is full of vision itself,
Like tinkling of April,-
And all in the darkness you are writing a letter-
Somewhere – to Vermeer of Delft .
ROSE IN THE RAIN
Barely touching and fell
That moment has gone far away,
I do not know quite sure why
You once again far and desirable.
And somehow on the bottom of the sight
The wistful sense of outcome has came
Come, quick and splint your palm-
Isn’t that the slot of thunderstorm?
But then – I do not know when –
Perhaps in chains of parting –
I will be touched for all the times
By the cruelness of a desire.
You are the rose in the pouring rain,
The crying miracle of separation,
Like candle blinking through the glass-
That accidentally burned hands.
You are the angel’s babble in a dream,
The threatening whisper of infliction,
That time when born in me
That dream so close to abnegation.
And who would affiance you
Who guilt for such stories?-
But the heart cannot be cured
From grumble that outside the categories.
Rise up of these tunes –
Enough waste your might-
That used to sparking out-
No need to find out the scourge.
The choir, celebrating this day
The beauty of yours late summer,
And you in the necklace of wonders
Remained undiminished brightness.
Translated by Olga Aleynikova
The barber’s flying violin…
Theodosia colour of twilight is violet. It’s light
Of the nice café near the sea, belongs to Aivazovsky.
Demonized seagulls with breaks cry their delirium.
Foamy waves represent the shards of china ware,
In Crimean Cimmeria it’s right, I say, to drink these Red wines slowly;
we pay for them the blue-yellow hryvnias.
Dear soul, climb the stanzas of poets each swallow with,
poets were found here, composed so wonderful rhythms.
More exact – they have hidden the breathful grief
into a word,
heated stones, Crimean so beautiful bright coloured
chebureks life, a musical violin of barber… What
Else could I recollect? Well, which else skilled
connections and ties?
Crotcheteer and brother of shams strolled along this
the most light drunkard, the sailor of the terrestrial
Silent dreamer Grinevsky – to very hell of sun, to wit:
It was Galery-street, ten, where only four steps. Old regions…
He walked here and saw the same thick bushes.
I could see him.
And the violet colour, which maybe’s most calm in the world, look…
Oh, my glass, we will drink for the letters-works,
pour wine to brim,
need to need, let us drink for the wind, understanding
for the random life and for the port, which counts
money, and more,
for the empty café of became white – acacias
bloom – Caffa,
for plum sea: jelly-fish and actinia, iodine, anemones,
the piratical treasures with yellow gold, pearls,
Translated by Galina Rud
Long Now You’ve Lounged in Earth
Long now you’ve lounged in earth—futile,
useless—but at last your hour’s struck:
you stirred from sleep, roused
your head’s dead yoke, and aligned a crooked
spine, its vertebrae cracking like lightning—
a vast array of thunder’s fearsome
peals, which lead now to the hail stones
these high heavens shed and shudder,
each transforms and tapers on the fly
into droplets thirsting to germinate, akin
to seeds, heedless of how
they’ll sprout, whether as emerald herb,
hazel woods, or some other verdant
shoot… You’ve lounged in earth so long now—
futile, useless—but here it is, the moment
you faithfully tarried till:
for it is better to oversleep
your own short age, disdaining all
earthly vanity, than to grope dimly down
its crenellated top, stumbling across
with hesitant steps and carefree
laughter, preaching “All’s well! Superb!”
That’s why those who don’t know
your true name call you a river of words.
Half Enraptured, Partially Indignant
Half enraptured, partially indignant,
toting my antiquarian lyre—
old thing I procured
for pennies at Tishinsky market—
with news I move from town to village
(both far removed and near as neighbors),
I foot this distance.
Having once recalled the cerise-clad, spear-
with ill-will and thin lip service, then
to hasten into the distance, reel
the goal actively
closer, this stands in for standing in
one place, unmoving—
this I know for certain. And when trees
cleave at the crack of lightning’s arrow,
all shattered save one
side branch, this remnant will persist as
the new cut trunk, so
vigorous. As for the muses, browneyed
girls, I’m neither their first lover
nor yet their last one—
I’m not so dim I’d tie their dowry
down, then disperse that
prized speech without proper accounting,
some cache I’d vainly blurt away,
a flurry of word
and then… what? Well, to hell with all that—
I’m not heir to their budget-free
trust fund and seized by spending. Still, that
chasm’s not a great
one, between Homer and Herostratus,
between the mighty
and the meek. In erecting housing
projects, they snatched the last gravestones
and took them away,
a cemetery’s leftovers—mosscovered
How decisively time erects and
razes, leaving every stone upturned.
You who preserved verse through such unrest
and storm, a hundred
times are you blessed. Still, love and faith
thin quickly, and through hope alone can
a person live on—
wordless splinter of a garrulous
who wiggles his lips like a gasping
fish: “If we wipe our memory clean
of its lingering
garbage, what then will ever remain?”
Temple with an Arcade
At the Genoese Fortress in Sudak, if you enter
the Main Gate, at the left, and approach the wall’s elbow,
then head up from a post—it doesn’t strike
the random rubbernecker as much—protruding
like a codger’s last tooth, there is a cupola
plopped on a stub-necked octahedron
that glows, a hemisphere’s bowl;
this is the Lord’s house, where a sequence
of people, lips parted in peaceful prayer,
washes like waves through the door:
see the law-abiding Mahommedans,
flooding in from the wild steppe
to sing “La ilaha illa Allah” in a slow monotone;
see the foreigners hauling their alien art
along the rippled path from the Ligurian Gulf—
they chant their gruff
“Pater Noster” in a language now dead;
or see a distant land’s exiles
with their “Sh’ma Israel,” who learn
by heart the scroll’s trusted marks;
see the conquerors of panoramas
and oceans, who proclaim “Otche Nash” all around,
vesting all hope in hammer and banner;
see the direct heirs of dire Martin
spreading his simple writ, “Vater Unser”;
see the fertile vale’s natives embracing
Noah’s ancient haven, Monophysites
honoring the Most High, each one
ardently affirming “Hayr Mer,” each cherishing
a grief sadder than low intellect can know…
all of them once traveled here, but now—
a free museum that’s open eight to eight,
where polyglot inscriptions intermix
with frescoes and the mihrab, where God
hears, with equal heed, entreaties
from all the fractured hosts of Man.
Each and every day, save weekends and holidays,
when there’s no reason or special occasion
to leave my apartment and head downtown,
the same underground train—racing at insane speeds, its
unbearable rattling and grinding, screeching
and shrieking, clanging and clawing that’s fit
to flay my eardrums to the bone—carries us past
the exact spot between two stations, Avtozavodskaya
and Pavelstskaya, where a friend, not my nearest
or dearest, but a quiet man and loving father,
the kind that’s daily more endangered, always willing
to go drinking and a book-lover to boot,
the kind whose hard work never won him a penny,
Borya Geliebter (speak his name in your prayers, ye who live!),
was blown to bits in that explosion on the sixth
of February, in the two thousand and fourth year
of our Lord, on a Friday, at thirty-two minutes
past eight, as he was commuting in the morning
rush hour, without the slighest notion that he—
the poor guy, just fifty-four days shy
of his forty-third birthday—was slated to land
(oh senseless fate!) in tragedy’s messy center; and then
a host of thoughts comes into my head, from furious
curses—“Let those who gave this sordid order,
and those who (aware of their actions) still acted,
find no peace in this life or the next;
whether they rest in cold graves or hot beds may they
get no response, for a special retribution awaits their souls!”—
to humble thoughts of heaven’s hidden works,
which reason can’t fathom nor human dimenisons measure,
since our births as men, our lives and ends,
reside in the Creator’s hands, who always calls
his blessed back with “Blessed be those beloved to me!”—
to vague ruminations on things foreboding:
how, if the philosopher of the common task is correct
and the resurrection requires numerical data, here’s where
you’ll find it, thus proving (despite a certain thinker’s bitter claim)
that after Auschwitz and the Gulag, after bloody wars
and revolutions, after Hiroshima, Baghdad and New York, there can be poetry…
but what kind? Who’s to say, maybe this kind right here.
A Many-Throated, Many-Mawed, Many-Tongued Rumble
A many-throated, many-mawed, many-tongued rumble
resounds, coming nigh, soaring high, casting wide,
to infuse each soul with horror, wrap it in fear like a shroud,
setting all, from the dead to the unborn, atremble:
What’s happening? What’s coming? What’s gone?
And the cosmos’s uncountable creatures now feel
a light on their transparent skin, transmitted
from an immutable mote, so tiny even a keen eye
can’t pinpoint it in the maelstrom of faces and events—
but it holds our questions’ answers, and our hope.
Translations by Derek Monk and Anne O. Fisher (USA)
This post is also available in: Macedonian