Madagascar

In honor of Tu B’Shavat, we present this whimsical Jewish pastoral.

01-17 Broderzon
Moishe Broderzon
Russian
1890 – 1956

1
I take my feet under my arm,
I go, I walk, stride on,
to east and west and north and south,
I look for Birobidjan.
people give this advice – it’s a habit,
take a pack on your back,
and go forth like a rabbit!

To Madagascar, the land of grass and rabbits
and when the wind will blow,
to Madagascar. No meat there,
I know that from Genesis.
that’s where Adam the first man
started to mix in,
where Mother Eve can,
be curious too,
Ay Madagascar, may as well be there
that’s the thing to do.

2
The sun there bakes on pagodas
Winter hot snow falls
come in to all’s ready
don’t need to make a living
for people eat each other
So poof and you’re not there.

To Madagascar, the land of grass and rabbits
and when the wind will blow,
to Madagascar. No meat there,
I know that from Genesis.
that’s where Adam the first man
started to mix in,
where Mother Eve can,
be curious too,
Ay Madagascar, may as well be there
that’s the thing to do.

The Sun’s Caught Cold

12-30 Inber
Vera Inber
Russian
1890 – 1972

 

The sun’s caught cold and hides its rays,
though dawn came hours before…
How pleasant, on an autumn day,
to set off for my native shore.

I even love the slanted rain
up here — since, after all,
I’ll reach my home exactly when
the leaves begin to fall.

I’ll breathe fresh air, so full of spice,
beneath the endless blue.
I’ll stroll and think, “Cool northerners —
oh, how I pity you…”

After My Death

12-13 Bialik
Hayim Nahman Bialik
Russian
1873 – 1934

 

After my death mourn me this way:
‘There was a man-and see: he is no more;
before his time this man died
and his life’s song in mid-bar stopped;
and oh, it is sad! One more song he had
and now the song is gone for good,
gone for good!

And it is very sad!-a harp too he had
a living being and murmurous
and the poet in his words in it
all of his heart’s secret revealed,
and all the strings his hand gave breath
but one secret his heart kept hid,
round and round his fingers played,
and one string stayed mute,
mute to this day!

And it is sad, very sad!
All of her days this string moved,
mute she moved, mute she shook,
for her song, her beloved redeemer
she yearned, thirsted, grieved and longed
as a heart pines for its intended:
and though he hesitated each day she waited
and in a secret moan begged for him to come,
and he hesitated and never came,
never came!

And great, great is the pain!
There was a man-and see: he is no more,
and his life’s song in mid-bar stopped,
one more song he had to go,
and now the song is gone for good,
gone for good!

The Shore

11-04 Karamzin
Nikolay Karamzin
Russian
1766 – 1826

 

After the storm and tossing of the waves,
After all the dangers of the voyage,
There is no hesitation for the seamen
To enter the peaceful port.

Let it even be unknown!
Let it not be on the map!
The thought, the hope is delightful for them,
There to free themselves from troubles.

And if then they discover by a glance
On the shore, friends, kinsmen,
“Oh happiness!” they exclaim
And fly into their arms.

Life! thou art sea and tossing of the waves!
Death! thou art port and peace!
There will be the reunion
Of those separated here by the wave.

I see, I see… you beckon
Us to the mysterious shores!…
Dear shadows! Keep
A place near you for your friends!

To Live!

10-08 Shirman
Elena Shirman
Russian
1908 – 1942

 

How could it be possible that I, tousled, might be reduced to dust,
Might lay down my indefatigable body like a log?
If all my twenty awkward years
Boom like the thick trees—to live!…

To live! To be torn into shreds by the winds,
To be shed to the ground with the hot leaves,
But only to feel how the arteries push,
To bend with pain, to be whipped-up by frenzy.

Scarlet Blood and Yellow Bile

09-27 Barkova
Anna Barkova
Russian
1901 – 1976

 

Scarlet blood and yellow bile
Feed our life, and all we do;
Malignant fate has given us
Hearts insatiable as wolves,

Teeth and claws we use to maul
And tear our mothers and our fathers;
No, we do not stone our neighbors,
Our bullets rip their hearts in two.

Oh! Better not to think like this?
Very well, then – as you wish.
Then hand me universal joy,
Like bread and salt upon a dish.

At the Feast

We present this work in honor of the 100th anniversary of the poet’s death.

08-26 Gumilyov
Nikolay Gumilyov
Russian
1886 – 1921

 

There’s Prince Diego, falling in a love,
He dozed and he laid his head midst table’s stuff,
He lost his goblet, cast from silver’s milk,
And freed his jacket of a crimson silk.

And he is seeing the transparent stream,
And on the stream — the boat white as steam,
In which the trip, a lot of time ago,
His bride and he had had to undergo.

Space after space immediately springs
And, like two looks, burn two amazing rings;
But now sacred isles are seen in haze,
Where will resound the mysterious phrase,
And where, in wreaths of roses, at last,
They will be married by the Jesus Christ.

But at that time, the king has laid on him
The heavy look, where evil mixed with whim,
And jokers are adjusting to his heart,
The reddish pieces — flowers of blood,
And sexy bride with moderated rage,
Is kissing the impudent, lustful page.

The River-Time

We present this work in honor of the 205th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Ïîðòðåò Ãàâðèëà Ðîìàíîâè÷à Äåðæàâèíà
Gavriil Derzhavin
Russian
1743 – 1816

 

The river-time, in its fast currents,
Bears away all people’s deals,
And drowns kingdoms, kings, and countries,
In the forgetfulness’ abyss.

And if, due pipes’ or lyres’ greatness,
Shall anything remain of that,
It shall be gobbled by the endless,
And shall not dodge the common fate.

Hey There, Russia, Mother Country

We present this work in honor of Russia’s National Day.

06-12 Yesenin
Sergei Yesenin
Russian
1895 – 1925

 

Hey there, Russia, mother country,
Cottages in icon guise…
Never-ending land of wonder,
Vistas blue that suck the eyes.

Like a passing holy pilgrim
On your fields I turn my gaze,
On the outskirts of poor villages
Rustling poplars pine and fade.

Smelling of sweet honey and apples
Churches celebrate the Lord
And the sounds of festive dancing
Fill the fields and meadows broad.

Off into the open country
Down a beaten path I run
And to meet me, light as catkins,
Peals of girlish laughter come.

If the heavenly host should beg me:
“Come to live in heaven above!”
I shall say: “Don’t give me heaven
But the Russia that I love.”

The Floweret

Vasily Zhukovsky
Russian
1783 – 1852

 

Floweret, faded and forsaken,
Fragile beauty of the lea,
Autumn’s cruel hand hath taken
All thy summer charms from thee.

Heigho! that the years must bring
This same destiny to all;
One by one our joys take wing,
One by one your petals fall.

So each evening rings the knell
Of some dream or rapture perished,
And the fleeting hours dispel
Each some vision fondly cherished.

Life’s illusions lie unmasked,
And the star of hope burns paler.
Has not some sage long since asked:
Men or blossoms — which are frailer?