Archive for Leningrad

Book of Essays

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 11, 2010 by mikhailych

Dear all,

A while ago I decided to gather some of grad school, mainly undergraduate essays together in a slim volume so I’d have a convenient way to have a record of the. Along the way I figured that perhaps some of you, my dedicated readers, (despite my rather long gaps in updating) may be interested in them too so I’m making them available on

I hope you all enjoy them.

Also, as my semester winds down, I hope to get back the business that this blog was set up to do, provide well translated Russian poetry for all of you.


January 27th, 1944

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 24, 2008 by mikhailych

January 27th, 1944

And in the starless January night,
Itself amazed at its unprecedented destiny,
Delivered from Death’s abyss,
Leningrad toasts itself.


-Anna Akhmatova (Translated by me)


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2008 by mikhailych


There are in Leningrad, aside from the sky and the Neva,
Wide, empty squares, overgrown foliage.
And aside from the statues, and bridges, and dreams of a nation,
And aside from glory, which swells like an unhealed wound,
Glory, which roams the prospects at night,
Virtually unseen, of silver and ashes,
There are rigid eyes and that,
Mysterious muteness,
Those bitterly clenched teeth, those rings around the heart,
That they alone may have spared it from death.
And if you granite, learn from those burning eyes:
They are dry, dry when even a stone weeps.


-Ilya Ehrenburg (Translated by me)

My Home

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2008 by mikhailych

My Home

In the home where I lived many years,
From where I left the winter of the blockade,
A light once again appears in the evening windows.
It is pinkish, festive, elegant.

Glancing at the three windows that used to be mine,
I remember: the war happened here.
Oh how we darkened, without a ray of hope…
And everything darkened, everything darkened in this world…

Afterwards the owner did not knock on the door,
As though he had forgotten the way back to his own apartment.
Where is he now, absent-mindedly roaming?
What is the last place that gave him shelter?

No, I do not know who lives there now,
In these rooms where you and I used to live,
Who, in the evenings, knocks on that very door,
Who left the blue wallpaper as it was,
The very same wallpaper that was chosen so long ago…
I recognized it from outside through the window.

The windows’ inviting comfort,
Awaken memories of such bright, forgotten light,
That I believe that kind people live there,
Good, welcoming people.

There are even little children there,
And someone young, who is perpetually in love,
And the postman only brings them happy news,
And only the truest friends come here for noisy holidays.

I want so dearly for someone to be happy,
There, where I suffered immeasurably.
Possess everything that was denied to me,
And all that I gave up for the war…

However, should such a day arrive,
When the tranquil snow and glimmering twilight,
Will light ablaze my blessed memories,
So vividly that I will not resist knocking on the door,
Coming into my home, standing in my threshold,
And asking…well asking, “What time is it?”
Or “Water,” like I did on those roads of war.
If that happens, do not judge me,
Answer me trustingly and compassionately,
After all, I have come here to my home,
And I remember it all and believe in our happiness.


– Olga Berggolts (Translated by me)

In the Alexander Nevsky Monastery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 18, 2008 by mikhailych

In the Alexander Nevsky Monastery

The ghost of the sun sparsely illuminates,
The clouds and the monastery cupola.

The afternoon is muted, and it is infinitely sad,
To pass through the necropolis of art.

You, behold! Forgetting the vile malice,
Of the stone symphony of gravestones.

Except that symphony is silent,
Nothing escaped with immortality.

Summer 1952, Leningrad

-Yuri Iofe (Translated by me)


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2008 by mikhailych

So a few days ago I posted a link to Anna Bochman’s story of emigration and identity. I’m not sure if my story is as good, or interesting, seeing as I was born here. Yet, still I have a slew of impressions on growing up in the echo of emigration. So for your consideration and reading pleasure, my non-emigre emigre memoir:

Personally I feel that all the stories on there are excellent and worth looking through and that any of you that have read mine or Anna’s should spend some time perusing the rest.

Twelve Chefs by Daniil Kharms

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 3, 2008 by mikhailych


One more thing to toss out today! Recently devoted an entire issue of their publication, The Thin Journal, to the late absurdist Leningrad author, Daniil Kharms, best known for his mini-stories. One of the odder, more eccentric figures of 20th Century Russian / Soviet literature, Kharms made a living as a children’s writer (even though he apparently disliked children) since none of his adult writing was ever published during his lifetime.  In the spirit of, I present to you a translation of Twelve Chefs, a very short children’s story by D. Kharms:

I state that their are twelve chefs drawn on this page. However, they keep telling me that only one of them is a chef, that the rest aren’t chefs. Yet, if the rest aren’t chefs, than who the devil are they?

For more information on Daniil Kharms, and more of his work, check out