Aleksandr Kabanov. Two Poems. Translated by Olga Shvarova

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Aleksandr Kabanov. Two Poems. Translated by Olga Shvarova
Anthony's Caves of the Trinity-St. Elias Monastery (10th-11th centuries), Chernihiv, Ukraine. Photo by N. Kossman. Sept,. 2023
Aleksandr Kabanov. Two Poems. Translated by Olga Shvarova

When the gods reflect us

In horses, dogs and cats

Then women in the trenches

Shall give birth to us.

We will live, new-borns,

Remembering old deeds:

The mirrors of all animals,

The stem cells of trees.

How we used to run from

Tents to nailless woods,

To happy second ends,

To rain and taste of mushrooms

When we were on the run

In bed I leafed through you

And now we are dead,

Compressed into a gem

Free from eternal haste,

With us are Bosch and God,

Flash drives we now are,

Inside we save this world.

Meanwhile, there’s ice,

Flame, water, sands of heav’n,

And you in me like solace:

Do I need music even?

The Original
Когда нас боги отражают —

в собаках, в кошках, в лошадях,

тогда нас бабы нарожают —

в окопах и на площадях.

Мы будем новые, живые,

и вспомним прошлые дела:

деревьев клетки стволовые

и всех животных — зеркала.

Как выбегали из-под тента —

в лес, что построен без гвоздя:

на запах секонд-хэппи-энда,

на вкус грибов и цвет дождя.

Когда мы были беглецами —

я, перед сном, тебя листал,

теперь мы стали мертвецами,

мы — файлы, сжатые в кристалл.

Избавлены от вечной спешки,

и с нами — босх иероним,

теперь мы знаем, люди — флешки:

мы этот мир — в себе храним.

Ну а покуда: лёд и жженье,

песок небесный и вода,

и ты во мне, как утешенье:

зачем мне музыка тогда?
* * *
Steppe and steppe came to us step by step

Autumn rode over astride the maples

Memory is a haystack, a needle inside,

Sudden death for lovers on its point.

It’d be better stubbing cloth, sewing shroud

For a foe from rough cotton not velvet;

If the haystack is memory then what we did

This summer, all haystacks remember.

This summer we made children while they

Mowed oats, burclover, and cornflowers,

Pushing an armoured beetle off its way,

And fat caterpillars’ tractors

Lost their tracks, a butterfly escaped,

Locusts broke out of the depositary,

One needle skewered you and me,

One herbarium holds us now.

In the epicentre of evil, among the planes,

Compound feed changing for silage,

We gave birth to children – look at them:

A truckload of future lovers*.

The Original
Степь да степь пошагово к нам пришла,

прискакала осень верхом на клёнах,

память — это стог, а в стогу — игла,

а в игле — внезапная смерть влюблённых.

Ей бы шить/колоть саван для врага

и впотьмах не спутать джинсу с вельветом,

если память — стог, значит все стога —

знают, что мы делали этим летом.

Этим летом делали мы детей,

был покос овса, васильков, люцерны,

и сошли с насекомых своих путей —

бронепоезд-жук, а за ним цистерны

жирных гусениц, бабочка утекла,

саранча взломала депозитарий,

нас с тобою проткнула одна игла,

нас с тобою собрали в один гербарий.

В эпицентре зла, посреди равнин,

комбикорм обменивая на силос,

мы детей рожали — один в один:

дофига читателей получилось.


*It is ‘readers’ in the original but the literal translation does not make sense outside of Russian literaray tradition and the Russian/Ukrainian language issue that exploded in the last several years. It would be less puzzling to use “future lovers”.
– Olga Shvarova

About the Author:

1. Kabanov photo 1
Aleksandr Kabanov
Kyiv, Ukraine

Alexandr Kabanov (born 1968) is a Ukrainian poet who writes in Russian. He lives and works in Kyiv. He is the author of fourteen books of poems and numerous publications in magazines and newspapers. A book of his poems in English translation is available on Amazon:

About the Translator:

Olga Shvarova
Olga Shvarova
Nicosia, Cyprus

Olga Shvarova is a global expert in commercialization, technology transfer, and innovation management. She is also a writer and Russian-English poetry translator. For several years, she supported a charitable organization, the Russian Poets Fund, which introduced contemporary Russian poetry to English-speaking audiences in the UK. Olga’s translations of Aleksandr Kabanov have appeared in Poetry International and POEM Magazine. Her other work has appeared in Poetry International, New Humanist, The Calvert Journal, and elsewhere.

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