Friday, December 6, 2019

Марина Цветаева, Translation of Poem by Marina Tsvetaeva, "Уж сколько их упало в эту бездну," "So many have been swallowed up and perished"

Марина Цветаева
Marina Tsvetaeva

Уж сколько их упало в эту бездну,
Разверзтую вдали!
Настанет день, когда и я исчезну
С поверхности земли.
Застынет все, что пело и боролось,
Сияло и рвалось.
И зелень глаз моих, и нежный голос,
И золото волос.
И будет жизнь с ее насущным хлебом,
С забывчивостью дня.
И будет все — как будто бы под небом
И не было меня!
Изменчивой, как дети, в каждой мине,
И так недолго злой,
Любившей час, когда дрова в камине
Становятся золой.
Виолончель, и кавалькады в чаще,
И колокол в селе…
— Меня, такой живой и настоящей
На ласковой земле!
К вам всем — что мне, ни в чем не знавшей меры,
Чужие и свои?!-
Я обращаюсь с требованьем веры
И с просьбой о любви.
И день и ночь, и письменно и устно:
За правду да и нет,
За то, что мне так часто — слишком грустно
И только двадцать лет,
За то, что мне прямая неизбежность —
Прощение обид,
За всю мою безудержную нежность
И слишком гордый вид,
За быстроту стремительных событий,
За правду, за игру…
— Послушайте!- Еще меня любите
За то, что я умру.
Dec. 8, 1913

Literal Translation

How many have fallen into that abyss,
Gaping in the distance!
The day will come when I as well will disappear
From the surface of the earth.

It all will congeal, everything that sang, that struggled,
That shone, strained, burst,
Both the green of my eyes, and the soft voice,
And the gold of my hair.

And life will still be, with its daily bread,
With the forgetfulness of each day.
And everything will still be—as if beneath the skies
I had never even existed!

I, with as-fickle-as-a-child expression on my face,
And I who could not be angry for long,
Who so loved the moment when the log
In the fireplace turned to ash.

The violincello, the cavalcades in the thicket,
And the bell in the village . . .
But not me, so alive, so genuine,
On this tender earth!

I turn to you all—for after all, I’ve never had
A sense of measure—who is my intimate, who is a stranger?
To all I demand I be believed,
And to all I plead for love,

Both day and night, in written word and orally,
[Love me] for the sake of truth, a simple yes or no,
[Love me] because so frequently I’m all too sad,
And I’m only twenty years old.

Because you can’t avoid the inevitable:
Forgiving me for insults,
For all of my unbridled tenderness
And the too proud look on my face,

For the rapidity of impetuous events,
For the truth, and for play . . .
Listen! Love me as well
For the fact that I will die.


Literary Translation/Adaptation by U.R. Bowie

So many have been swallowed up and perished,
Dissolving in that distant gaping chasm.
My time as well, this life that I have cherished
Will soon recede in one last gasping spasm.

Coagulate will all, will into stillness freeze,
Everything that sang and struggled, shone:
The green of my eyes, the voice with its muted unease,
And the hair streaming gold in the breeze as it’s blown. 

And life will go on, all that give-us-our-daily-bread,
With the wallow of diurnal in oblivion/forget,
And all will be the same, all pages still misread,
As if I’d never whirled my way through being’s grim roulette.

My me will be gone, the innocent look on my face,
The me who never ever held a grudge!
That me who loved to watch a hearth log dissipate,
And turn to tender ashes, smoulder-smudge.

Who saw the cavalcades of riders through the forest,
Heard cellos play, the toll of bells in village church,
That me not be? Who throbbed with life’s exultant chorus,
Who safe in earth’s fond grasp did snugly perch.

To all of you appeal I, to intimates and strangers—
For, after all, I’ve always lacked a simple sense of measure—
I say to all, “Believe me, please,” we’re all too prone to dangers,  
Please send to me some love as well, through fair or stormy weather.

You’ll do that, won’t you? Day and night, in written word
Or spoken. Send artless yeses, guileless nos, and sympathy aplenty,
For fact is little me’s so sad, a woeful dickeybird,
And one more thing you need to know: today I’m only twenty!

Send love, forgiveness, won’t you please? Send kindly dispensations,
From sinful ways, insults, offenses, calumnies, disgrace,
For my unbridled tenderness, for my perverse cunctations,
For all the pride and arrogance that’s plastered on my face,

For my impetuosity, effrontery nonplussed,
For truths I’ve told and games I play, for candor I defy . . .
Listen here now! That’s it! Love me you must
For one simple reason: because some day I’ll die.

Poem declaimed by Masha Matveychuk:

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Translation of poem by Евгений Винокуров, EVGENY VINOKUROV, "SPRING"

                         Vasily Vereshchagin, "The Road of the War Prisoners," 1878-1879
                                          (in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum)

While working as a war correspondent during the Russo-Turkish War, in 1877, Vereshchagin witnessed the death of thousands of Turkish prisoners, who froze to death as they were being marched to Russian prisoner of war camps.

Evgeny Vinokurov 
Евгений Винокуров


Ночь выла, кружила, трубила округой.
И каждому падающему мертвецу
Так жизнь и запомнилась - белой вьюгой,
Наотмашь хлещущей их по лицу.

А утром всё стихло,
И мир открылся
Глазам в первозданной голубизне.
Я вылез на бруствер и удивился
Вновь - в восемнадцатый раз - весне.

Сырые холмы порыжели на склонах,
Весенние ветры сходили с ума.
И только у мёртвых в глазах оголённых,
В широких,
На веки застыла зима.

Literal Translation


Night wailed, whirled, blared all around,
And each man, falling dead,
Remembered life as a white blizzard
Backhanding his face with fierce slaps.
But in the morning all was settled,
And the world opened
Its eyes in primordial blue.
I climbed out on the breastwork and saw, amazed
again -- for the eighteenth time -- spring.
The damp hills had turned rusty red on their slopes.
The spring winds were going insane.
And only in the dead men's eyes, bare
And open wide,
Was winter frozen forever.
translated by Douglas Logan


Literary Translation/Adaptation by U.R. Bowie


The night played its trumpet blare,
Whirled round and howled,
And the last thing the dead boys
Recalled in farewell
Was the blizzard’s stark fury
And a memory befouled,
Of an ice-blow backhand
To the face as they fell.

But then came the morning
In stillness entangled,
And the world showed itself
With its blue hues bespangled,
To all of the eyes that still saw.
I crawled out on the rampart
And I looked, was in awe—
For the eighteenth time now—
At the coming of spring
Through the thaw.

On slopes of damp hillocks
A reddish glow shone,
The spring winds romped,
Capered, cavorted.
But in wide-open stark naked
Eyes of the dead
Bereavement with winter consorted.


Translator’s Note

In 1943, Evgeny Vinokurov was eighteen years old, as is the I narrator of this poem, and fighting the Germans in the Great Fatherland War (WW II). A war poem entitled “Spring” seems something of an oddity, but the seasons turn in the same old way, no matter what horrors Homo sapiens happens to be concocting at the time.

The war seems somehow in the background for most of the poem, intruding most forcefully with the use of one foreign word, бруствер (“breastwork” or “rampart”). In a striking image the eyes of the dead soldiers are described as оголённых (past participle, “denuded,” “stripped bare,” with an additional sense of “left defenseless”). This is especially appropriate here, since a secondary definition of the verb оголить has a military connotation: “to leave open to enemy attack; to leave undefended,” as in the phrase, “They left their right flank exposed.”

                                                              Spring in Kolomenskoe
                                    (by a different Evgeny Vinokurov, the artist born in 1946)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Translation into English of poem by EDUARD BAGRITSKY, " Я сладко изнемог от тишины и снов," "So sweetly enervated I, by silence and by dreams"

                                                                        Max Ernst

Eduard Bagritsky


Я сладко изнемог от тишины и снов,
От скуки медленной и песен неумелых,
Мне любы петухи на полотенцах белых
И копоть древняя суровых образов.

Под жаркий шорох мух проходит день за днем,
Благочестивейшим исполненный смиреньем,
Бормочет перепел под низким потолком,
Да пахнет в праздники малиновым вареньем.

А по ночам томит гусиный нежный пух,
Лампада душная мучительно мигает,
И, шею вытянув, протяжно запевает
На полотенце вышитый петух.

Так мне, о господи, ты скромный дал приют,
Под кровом благостным, не знающим волненья,
Где дни тяжелые, как с ложечки варенье,
Густыми каплями текут, текут, текут.

Literal Translation

Silence and dreams, and a languid boredom
Have left me sweetly enervated,
I’m fond of the roosters on white dishtowels
And of ancient soot on austere icons.

Day after day goes by to the hot rustle of flies,
Each day replete with the most pious humility,
A quail murmurs beneath the low ceiling,
And on festive days there’s the aroma of raspberry jam.

And at night you languish in soft goose-down feathers,
The stifling icon lamp blinks agonizingly,
And the embroidered rooster on the dishtowel
Stretches out his neck and crows at length.

And so, O Lord, you’ve given me a modest hideaway,
Beneath a soothing roof that knows not agitation,
Where the heavy [oppressive] days, as jam from a spoon,
In thick droplets go dripping, dripping, dripping.

Literary Translation/Adaptation by U.R. Bowie

So sweetly enervated I, by silence and by dreams,
By boredom creeping slowly past, and songs ineptly sung,
I love the crowing roosters on the dishtowel barnyard scenes,
The ancient soot on icons, in the parlor corner hung.

Day follows day, the flies toil on, exacerbating rustle,
My life abounds with piety, with actions cautionary,  
Beneath the placid eaves above the cooing pigeons bustle,
On festive days the air is rife with jam of lingonberry.

With night’s unease I turn and writhe in goose-down feathers soft,
The stifling icon lamp’s aglitter, blinking misery,
Then one embroidered rooster in the dishtowel barnyard loft
Extends his scrawny neck, exults, and crows his reveille.

O Lord, thou hast provided me a modest warm cocoon,
Beneath a tranquil roof that holds my life in trusteeship,  
Where day by viscous day seeps by, as jam from kitchen spoon,
In thick and gooey droplets falls,
With drip, and drip, and drip.

Translator’s Notes

Biographical Information on Bagritsky, from the Internet
(Translation of Highlights Here, Full Text in Russian Below)

Eduard Georgievich Bagritsky, whose real surname was Dzjubin or Dzjuban), was born on October 22 (Nov. 3, NS), 1895, in Odessa to a Jewish family that practiced its religion seriously. He studied to be a land surveyor but never worked at that profession.
Beginning in 1915, he published his verses under various pseudonyms, both male and female (Eduard Bagritsky, Nina Voskresenskaja), and soon he had become one of the most remarkable of the young Odessa writers who were later to be stars in the pantheon of Soviet Literature: Yury Olesha, Ilya Il’f, Valentin Kataev, Vera Inber, and others.
In 1918 he joined the Red Army during the Civil War, working in the political arm of the partisan movement, writing politically motivational verses. After the war he worked in Odessa as a poet and artist, publishing his works in newspapers and humor magazines under various pseudonyms: A Guy Named Vasya, Nina Voskresenskaja (again), and The People’s Correspondent Gortsev.
In 1925 he moved to Moscow and joined various literary circles then in mode, including the Constructivists. In 1928 his verse collection titled “Southwest” came out, and a second collection, “The Victors,” appeared in 1932.
Beginning with the year 1930 his asthma intensified—a disease from which he had suffered since childhood; he died on February 16, 1934, in Moscow. His widow, Lidia Suok, was arrested in 1937 and sent to a labor camp; she was released only in 1956. Their son Vsevolod fought in The Great Patriotic War (WW II), died at the front in 1942.
Эдуард Георгиевич Багрицкий (настоящая фамилия Дзюбин (Дзюбан); 1895—1934) — русский поэт, переводчик и драматург, родился 22 октября (3 ноября) 1895 г. в Одессе в буржуазной еврейской семье с сильными религиозными традициями. Окончил землемерные курсы, но по профессии не работал.
С 1915 г. под псевдонимом «Эдуард Багрицкий» и женской маской «Нина Воскресенская» начал публиковать свои стихи в одесских литературных альманахах и вскоре стал одной из самых заметных фигур в группе молодых одесских литераторов, впоследствии ставших крупными советскими писателями (Юрий Олеша, Илья Ильф, Валентин Катаев, Лев Славин, Семён Кирсанов, Вера Инбер).
В 1918 г., во время Гражданской войны, добровольцем вступил в Красную Армию, работал в политотделе особого партизанского отряда имени ВЦИК, писал агитационные стихи.
После войны работал в Одессе, сотрудничая, как поэт и художник, в ЮгРОСТА (Южное бюро Украинского отделения Российского телеграфного агентства) вместе с Ю. Олешей, В. Нарбутом, С. Бондариным, В. Катаевым. Публиковался в одесских газетах и юмористических журналах под псевдонимами «Некто Вася», «Нина Воскресенская», «Рабкор Горцев».
В 1925г. Багрицкий приехал в Москву и стал членом литературной группы «Перевал», через год примкнул к конструктивистам. В 1928г. у него вышел сборник стихов «Юго-запад». Второй сборник, «Победители», появился в 1932г.
С начала 1930г.  у Багрицкого обострилась астма — болезнь, от которой он страдал с детства. Он умер 16 февраля 1934г. в Москве. Вдова поэта, Лидия Густавовна Суок, была репрессирована в 1937 (вернулась из заключения в 1956). Сын Всеволод погиб на фронте в 1942 г.