Archive for Soviet 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.



Vladimir Vysotsky Site

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 7, 2010 by mikhailych

So I recently stumbled across this:

Check it out, it’s pretty nifty.

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)

I thought long and hard about eagles…

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

I thought long and hard about eagles,
And I came to understand a lot:
Eagles fly among the clouds,
They fly without bothering anyone.
I came to understand that eagles live on cliffs and on mountains,
And that they’re friends with the water spirits.
I thought long and hard about eagles,
But it seems that I confused them with flies.

March 15, 1939


-Daniil Kharms (translated by me)

Aleksei Kafanov

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

A bloody trail meanders on the snow.
Someone has dug themselves, headfirst, into the snow.
What does he care about life and glory,
This individual slowly freezing in the snow.

Yet, unnoted in any report,
Having gone missing in ‘41,
In a raggedy overcoat and leg-wraps,
He still crawls in the night.

Dead, however knowing no peace,
He continues to crawl without direction,
The unburied Russian soldier,
Who never did hear the invaders repulsed.

Here he crawls before the dawn,
With dark, bottomless eye sockets,
He glances and demands an answer:
“The war, how did it end?”

-Aleksei Kafanov (Translated by me)

Blue Balloon

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2008 by mikhailych

Blue Balloon

A little girl cries: My balloon flew away.
She is consoled, but the balloon flies further.

A young woman cries: I still can’t find a husband.
She is consoled, but the balloon flies further.

A lady cries: My husband left me for another.
She is consoled, but the balloon flies further.

Cries an old crone: I lived so little.
However, the balloon has returned to her, and it is blue.

-Bulat Okudzhava (Translated by me)

Atlantis rots on the ocean floor…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 19, 2008 by mikhailych

Atlantis rots on the ocean floor,
The sea grows dense with silt,
Glorious Rome blazed in the fires,
Its grey ashes scattered over the earth.

Everything has its time,
Everything falls to pieces.
Yet, a new prophet appears,
Promising renewed happiness.

Moscow, Summer 1951

-Yuri Iofe (Translated by me)