To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Lermontov Translations (1): "Untitled Poem" & "The Dream"

Transcreations from Russian by Jerome Rothenberg & Milos Sovak

Mikhail Lermontov - Selfportrait - 1837



[The appeal to me in the works that follow was in the harshness and fury of Lermontov’s romanticism, but it was just this note of contempt, as in his “iron verses / bursting with bitterness / & rage,” that marked him as a poet who displayed, as Nietzsche wrote of Heine, “that divine malice without which I cannot conceive perfection.”  It was that spirit – not necessarily our own – that Milos Sovak & I tried to capture in a project to translate Lermontov anew, sadly terminated by Milos’s death in 2009.  I’ll present the four poems we did accomplish in two installments. (J.R.)]

Untitled Poem

spleen & sadness,
not a hand held out
& heartsick

craving it!
& what’s the good
if any, ever?

Or forever – years lost
& the best of years!
Or maybe love

with whom?
the time too short,
not worth it

& forever    love
to look inside you

deep down, not a trace
of lost time
joys & miseries

turned into nothing
asking: what is passion
that sweet sickness

& how long & whether
it will last or fade
when brought back to your senses

& life too? just wait
& take a long hard look
& see it like it is

an empty

The Dream

noon heat ablaze
       here in this gorge
             in Dagestan

lead in my chest
      I lie unmoving
            deep wound

steaming still
      a trace of smoke
            & drop by drop
my blood

sand in the gorge
            I lie alone
                        the ragged edges
of its cliffs
            encircle me
                        the circle closing
& the sun is battering
            the yellow summits
asleep inside
            my dream that’s dead

& in my dream I dreamed
            a night of shining lights
                        an evening feast
down home
            into & out of which
                        a company of women
garlanded with flowers
                        spoke about me
only one girl
            who didn’t speak or laugh
                        apart from all of them
            but sat & pondered
                        sunk into her dream

what sadness
            made its way
                        into her soul
god knows what thoughts
            her thoughts were raising

when a gorge in Dagestan
            broke through
her dream

a body that she knew
            lay in that gorge
                        & on its breast
an open wound
            still steaming
                        turning black now
& the black blood flowing
            in a stream
                        & getting colder
colder still
            & colder


Ed Baker said...

that girl sunk into her dream
is also keeping me here

I am continually finding
works of poets/artists
that are out-and-about

the four poems
as indicated by these two:
make a book.

We pretty-much have to agree with Wordsworth that

Minds that have nothing to confer
Find little to perceive.

rono said...

very nice