Awake, My People!

Judah Leib Gordon
1830 – 1892


Awake, my people! How long will you sleep?
The night has passed, the sun shines through.
Awake, cast your eyes hither and yon
Recognize your time and place.

Has the march of time stood still
From the day you left for all parts of the globe?
Thousands of years have come and gone
Since your freedom was lost and you wandered away.

Many generations have been born and died
Oceans and continents have intervened
Remarkable changes have taken place
A different world engulfs us today.

Awake, my people! How long will you sleep?
The night has passed, the sun shines through.
Awake, cast your eyes hither and yon
Recognize your time and place.

The land where we live and are born
Is not thought to be part of Europe?
Europe, the smallest of continents
But the mightiest of all in wisdom and knowledge.

This land of Eden is now open to you
Its sons now call you “brothers.”
How long will you dwell among them as a guest
Why do you reject their hand?

They have already removed the burden from your back
And lifted the yoke from around your neck
They have erased from their hearts hatred and folly
The stretch out their hands to you in peace.

So raise your head high, stand up straight
Look at them with loving eyes,
Open your hearts to wisdom and reason
Become an enlightened nation, speaking their tongue.

Everyone capable of learning should study
Laborers and artisans should take to a craft
The strong and the brave should be soldiers
Farmers should buy fields and ploughs.

To the treasury of the state bring your wealth
Bear your share of its riches and bounty
Be a man in the streets and a Jew at home
A brother to your countryman and a servant to your king.

Awake, my people! How long will you sleep?
The night has passed, the sun shines through.
Awake, cast your eyes hither and yon
Recognize your time and place.

The Night

In honor of the Russian holiday, National Unity Day, we present this work by one of modern Russia’s finest poets.

Anatoly Marienhof
1897 – 1962


The night, like a tear, flowed out of an immense eye
and rolled down along the roofs upon the lashes.
Sorrow rose up like Lazarus
and raced in the streets to cry and blame everyone,
throwing herself around necks – and everyone flipped
and screamed: you’re insane!
and with whoops of fear beat the eardrums
ringing like diamond cards.

How Agleam, How Garnished the Spring

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 150th birthday.

Ivan Bunin
1870 – 1953


How agleam, how garnished the spring!
Turn your eyes in the old way upon me:
Say, wherefore this sorrowing?
Why lavish this tenderness on me?

You are mute, as a blossom so frail,
Say naught! — No confession is needed:
The flight of your love I have heeded, —
Lone again is my trail!


We present this work in honor of the 75th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Zinaïda Gippius
1869 – 1945


I look at a sea – the greedy one and fervent,
Chained to the earth, on the depleted shore…
Stand by a gulf – over the endless heavens,
And could not fly to azure, as before.

I didn’t decide to join or slaves, or rebels,
Have no a courage nor to live, nor – die…
I feel my God – but cannot say my prayers,
I want my love – but can’t find love of mine.

I send to sun my worship and my groan,
I see a sheet of clouds, pale and cold…
What is a truth? It seems to me, I know, –
But for the truth I have not the right world.

From the Seashore

In honor of the Russian holiday, National Day, we present this work by the nation’s first female professional poet.

Anna Bunina
1774 – 1829


The shining sea
Seamless from the sky,
The quiet waves
Splashed upon the shore,
The gentle swells
Shivered just a little.

The sun is extinguished,
There is no moon,
Scarlet blaze
Glints in the west,
Birds in their nests,
Flocks in their roosts.

Everything suddenly shushed,
Everything in its place.

The room is still,
There is no rustling.
The children are cuddled
Modestly in the corners.

Lina touched
The harp strings:
The golden harp
Raised its voice;
Sounds in harmony
Sing with Lina.

Rosy flames
Shine from the fireplace;
The clear bright fire
Skips upon the coals;
The dark-gray smoke
Twists in a column.

The fierce flame
Scorches the soul;
The heart languishes,
Everything is desiccated.
Poison flows
In my veins.

Tears ran dry
In cloudy eyes,
Sighs stopped
The breast from heaving,
Speech freezes
On chilled lips!

Sea rise up!
Be a coffin for me!
Golden harp,
Strike like thunder!
Flame overflow,
Incinerate this poor woman!

I Love

In honor of Victory Day, we present this work by one of modern Russia’s most widely-loved poets.

Andrey Dementyev
1928 – 2018


To river came a woman fair.
A beauty with her auburn tresses.
My flame for her one word expresses –
I wrote it on the parched sand there.

She read it out aloud to me.
“I love you too…” she answered dearly.
Her words came clearly:
“Darling, darling…”
my mind lost then its liberty.

I sat with her upon the sand.
The sun upon our backs was blazing.
Beneath, the rustling pines were gazing.
The rooks’ cry came from distant land.

And for her I some lines composed.
Across our Rapids I was swimming
to fetch a bunch of daisies, brimming,
which I then at her feet disposed.

She laughed and then she read my palm.
She tore the petals from the flowers.
So were my vows possessed of powers,
Or was this superstition’s balm?

And many years have passed since then.
Again, I see – though
eyes are shuttered –
that written word, not even muttered,
is made indelible by pen.

The Gates of Paradise

In honor of Defense of the Fatherland Day, we present this work by one of Russia’s great martyred poets.

Nikolay Gumilyov
1886 – 1921


The eternal entrance into Eden
Is not locked with seven precious seals;
It has no charms nor light of heaven,
And the people don’t know that it is.

It’s a doorway in a wall forgotten —
Stones, moss and nothing more else,
Near stands a beggar; and the rotten,
Keys are hanging at his gaudy waist.

Paladins ride by in agitation,
Trumpets wail, and minted silver chant;
Nobody spares his attention
To the Peter — the Apostle, the saint.

They dream: There, by Sepulchre of Savor,
Paradise will open doors for us;
At the footing of the Mount Thabor
The committed hour will thrust.

So by the armored monster goes;
In the air the trumpets ring and wail;
The Apostle in the tattered cloth,
Like a beggar, looks and poor and pale.

Lot’s Wife

Anna Akhmatova
1889 – 1966


And the just man trailed God’s shining agent,
Over a black mountain, in his giant track,
While a restless voice kept harrying his woman:
“It’s not too late, you can still look back

At the red towers of your native Sodom,
The square where once young sang, the spinning-shed,
At the empty windows set in the tall house
Where sons and daughters blessed your marriage-bed.”

A single glance: a sudden dart of pain
Stitching her eyes before she made a sound…
Her body flaked into transparent salt,
And her swift legs rooted to the ground.

Who will grieve for this woman? Does she not seem
Too insignificant for our concern?
Yet in my heart I never will deny her,
Who suffered death because she chose to turn.


Konstantin Balmont
1867 – 1942


I fell in love with you, just when had seen you, dearest,
I still recall the simplest talk around us,
You were just one the mute, and speech of fire, fierce,
In lost of sounds words, were send me by your eyes.

Days by the days were sunk. The year had passed since then.
And spring is sending us its living rays, once more,
The flowers are set in fairy dress again,
But I’m? I’m still in love with you as was before.

And you’re, as in the past, the silent one and sad;
Only your look sometimes is glowing and speaking,
Not in such way, sometimes, the moon – an empress, great, –

Is hiding her bright face behind a mound, pricking? –
Yet, and behind the rock, with her forehead inclined,
From darkness, narrow, she sheds the gorgeous light.