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?

At Strife

David Edelstadt
Russian
1866 – 1892

 

Hated are we, and driven from our homes,
Tortured and persecuted, even to blood;
And wherefore? ‘Tis because we love the poor,
The masses of mankind, who starve for food.

We are shot down, and on the gallows hanged,
Robbed of our lives and freedom without ruth,
Because for the enslaved and for the poor
We are demanding liberty and truth.

But we will not be frightened from our path
By darksome prisons or by tyranny;
We must awake humanity from sleep,
Yea, we must make our brothers glad and free.

Secure us fast with fetters made of iron,
Tear us like beasts of blood till life departs,
‘Tis but our bodies that you will destroy,
Never the sacred spirit in our hearts.

You cannot kill it, tyrants of the earth!
Our spirit is a plant immortal, fair;
Its petals, sweet of scent and rich of hue,
Are scattered wide, are blooming everywhere.

In thinking men and women now they bloom,
In souls that love the light and righteousness.
As they strive on toward duty’s sacred goal,
Nature herself doth their endeavor bless—

To liberate the poor and the enslaved
Who suffer now from cold and hunger’s blight,
And to create for all humanity
A world that shall be free, that shall be bright;

A world where tears no longer shall be shed,
A world where guiltless blood no more shall flow,
And men and women, like clear-shining stars,
With courage and with love shall be aglow.

You may destroy us, tyrants! ‘Twill be vain.
Time will bring on new fighters strong as we;
For we shall battle ever, on and on,
Nor cease to strive till all the world is free!

You Will Hear Thunder

We present this work in honor of the 55th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Anna Akhmatova
Russian
1889 – 1966

 

You will hear thunder and remember me,
And think: she wanted storms. The rim
Of the sky will be the colour of hard crimson,
And your heart, as it was then, will be on fire.

That day in Moscow, it will all come true,
when, for the last time, I take my leave,
And hasten to the heights that I have longed for,
Leaving my shadow still to be with you.

Encounter

Elizaveta Polonskaya
Russian
1890 – 1969

 

Morning flew by in the usual way,
Up and down streets, it raced,
Unwinding the spring of an ongoing watch
That the night would wind up again.

A coat was fastened over the chest
With a clasp and a little chain,
Then a voice from the gut: “tayer yiddish kind,
Give to a beggar, Jewish daughter.”

From under her rags she studies me
With a tender, cunning old face,
A sentinel’s eye and a hookish nose,
And a black wig, parted smooth.

An ancient, yellowish hand
Grabs my sleeve, and the words
Of a language I don’t comprehend
Sound out, seizing my heart.

And there I stop, I cannot go on,
Though I know—I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t,
And drop a small coin in her open palm
And lift a thirsty heart to her face.

“Old woman, how did you, half-blind,
Pick me out among these strangers?
After all, I’m like them, the same as those—
Dull, alien, strange.”

“Daughter, dear, there are things about us
That no one can mistake.
Our girls have the saddest eyes,
And a slow languorous walk.

And they don’t laugh like the others—
Openly in their simplicity—
But beam behind clouds as the moon does,
Their sadness alive in their smiles.

Even if you lose your faith and kin,
A yid iz immer a yid!
And thus my blood sings in your veins,”
She says in her alien tongue.

That morning flew by in the usual way,
Up and down streets, it raced,
Unwinding the spring of an ongoing watch
That the night would wind up again.

Awake, My People!

Judah Leib Gordon
Russian
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
Russian
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
Russian
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!

Helplessness

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

Zinaïda Gippius
Russian
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.