Archive for Russian Poetry

I’m in Tbilisi

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on April 25, 2013 by mikhailych

I’m in Tbilisi

-Yuri Iofe

All damned poets,

Will be able to understand this.

I wander about Tbilisi,

Back and forth,

And gnaw on impressions,

As a dog would on scraps,

And pick subjects,

With readied rhymes.

Everything is strange and new to me,

Incomprehensible and wild,

Even the Eastern sky,

The color of indigo paint,

Blind alleys,

In blinding light,

As winding as letters,

In a Georgian newspaper.

Here, the law is irrelevant,

A European mask!

Now night is falling,

Like an Arabian fairy tale.

And I observe it all,

From bottom to top,

Delirious with rhyme,

I wander about Tbilisi.

In this madness,

All life is crumpled.

But this is something,

That all damn poets will be able to understand.

Tbilisi, 1960

Translated by me.



In commemoration of the 64th anniversary of the end of WWII…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2009 by mikhailych

The First Death

You know,
        There is in our soldierly fate,
That first death, Of a classmate, or a friend…
We waited for the patrol to return, in the muggy hut, 
 We were silent,
       Passing around a lone cigarette butt.
Potatoes roasted in a cast iron pot.
I rolled a cigarette,
       And handed it to my neighbor.
You know,
       We have a rule in the war:
To wait for the patrol’s return,
       And eat dinner together.
“Well, how are the guys doing out there?… 
      “Will they make it back?…”
Each one of us repeated the phrase.
He entered.
        Handed a machine gun off to the sergeant.
                 “Serezha is dead…
                              In the head…
And if you ever, 
        Had friends at the front,
You will understand this truth:
                            I expected him to return,
The way, 
        He did in the forests outside Moscow,
Wrapped in machine gun rounds. 
I waited for him in the morning.
       A snowstorm noisily raged.
                  He has to come.
                                I made breakfast.

But somewhere,
        In the deep,
                   Smolensk snowdrifts,
Lies the frozen body,
        Of my brother-in-arms.
You know,
        There is in our soldierly fate, 
That first death…
        We went around in a circle,
Talking about only one thing,
        Not a word about ourselves,
                 Only about avenging,
                               About avenging, Our friend.

1942 -Semen Gudzenko (Translated by me)

New issue of Sovlit’s Thin Journal is out…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 5, 2009 by mikhailych


Ulbandus 11 – High/low

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2009 by mikhailych


Everyone should check out the newest issue of Ulbandus, Columbia’s Slavic Review:

Oh Kozma Prutkov….and it rhymes!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on December 2, 2008 by mikhailych


Осень. Скучно. Ветер воет.
Мелкий дождь по окнам льет.
Ум тоскует; сердце ноет;
И душа чего-то ждет.


Autumn. Boredom. The wind whips.
A light rain on the window drips.
My mind longs; my heart whines;
And my soul for something pines.

– Kozma Prutkov (Translated by me)

Berggolts Revisited

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 28, 2008 by mikhailych

Hi all, my previously posted translation of “My Home” has made its way to
Thank you to the folks at Calque for publishing it!

Calque is a great place for poetry in translation in general and I encourage all of you to check them out.

In Memoriam

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 10, 2008 by mikhailych

This entire evening I will,
While suffocating on cigarette smoke,
Be tortured by thoughts of certain people,
Who perished very young,
Who either at sunrise or in the night,
Suddenly and inappropriately,
Died. Leaving unsteady verses unfinished,
Love unfulfilled,
         Stories untold,
                 Endeavors undone…


-Boris Smolensky (Translated by me)