Czeslaw Milosz. A Poor Christian Looks At The Ghetto. Translated into Russian by Ian Probstein

Also in Translations:

Czeslaw Milosz. A Poor Christian Looks At The Ghetto. Translated into Russian by Ian Probstein
Czeslaw Milosz. A Poor Christian Looks At The Ghetto. Translated into Russian by Ian Probstein

 
Bees build around red liver,
Ants build around black bone.
It has begun: the tearing, the trampling on silks,
It has begun: the breaking of glass, wood, copper, nickel, silver, foam
Of gypsum, iron sheets, violin strings, trumpets, leaves, *****, crystals.
****! Phosphorescent fire from yellow walls
Engulfs animal and human hair.

Bees build around the honeycomb of lungs,
Ants build around white bone.
Torn is paper, rubber, linen, leather, flax,
Fiber, fabrics, cellulose, snakeskin, wire.
The roof and the wall collapse in flame and heat seizes the foundations.
Now there is only the earth, sandy, trodden down,
With one leafless tree.

Slowly, boring a tunnel, a guardian mole makes his way,
With a small red lamp fastened to his forehead.
He touches buried bodies, counts them, pushes on,
He distinguishes human ashes by their luminous vapor,
The ashes of each man by a different part of the spectrum.
Bees build around a red trace.
Ants build around the place left by my body.

I am afraid, so afraid of the guardian mole.
He has swollen eyelids, like a Patriarch
Who has sat much in the light of candles
Reading the great book of the species.

What will I tell him, I, a Jew of the New Testament,
Waiting two thousand years for the second coming of Jesus?
My broken body will deliver me to his sight
And he will count me among the helpers of death:
The uncircumcised.
 

* * *
 

The Original:

Biedny chrześcijanin patrzy na getto

Pszczoły obudowują czerwoną wątrobę,
Mrówki obudowują czarną kość,
Rozpoczyna się rozdzieranie, deptanie jedwabi,
Rozpoczyna się tłuczenie szkła, drzewa, miedzi, niklu,
/srebra, pian

Gipsowych, blach, strun, trąbek, liści, kul, kryształów –
Pyk! Fosforyczny ogień z żółtych ścian
Pochłania ludzkie i zwierzęce włosie.

Pszczoły obudowują plaster płuc,
Mrówki obudowują białą kość,
Rozdzierany jest papier, kauczuk, płótno, skóra, len,
Włókna, materie, celuloza, włos, wężowa łuska, druty,
Wali się w ogniu dach, ściana i żar ogarnia fundament.
Jest już tylko piaszczysta, zdeptana, z jednym drzewem
/ bez liści

Ziemia.

Powoli, drążąc tunel, posuwa się strażnik-kret
Z małą czerwoną latarką przypiętą na czole.
Dotyka ciał pogrzebanych, liczy, przedziera się dalej,
Rozróżnia ludzki popiół po tęczującym oparze,
Popiół każdego człowieka po innej barwie tęczy.
Pszczoły obudowują czerwony ślad,
Mrówki obudowują miejsce po moim ciele.

Boję się, tak się boję strażnika-kreta.
Jego powieka obrzmiała jak u patriarchy,
Który siadywał dużo w blasku świec
Czytając wielką księgę gatunku.

Cóż powiem mu, ja, Żyd Nowego Testamentu,
Czekający od dwóch tysięcy lat na powrót Jezusa?
Moje rozbite ciało wyda mnie jego spojrzeniu
I policzy mnie między pomocników śmierci:
Nieobrzezanych.
 
* * *
 

Бедный христианин смотрит на гетто
 
Пчелы окружают сотами красную печень.
Муравьи строят леса вокруг черной кости.
Начинается разрыв, раздирание ткани,
Распад, крошенье стекла, дерева, меди, серебра, никеля, жести,
Гипсовых форм, струн, труб, шаров, кристаллов, листьев –
Бух! Фосфорический огонь с желтых стен
Пожирает волосы людей и зверей.

Пчелы окружают сотами легкие.
Муравьи строят леса вокруг белой кости.
Разодрана бумага, лен, кожа, холст, полотно,
Проволока, целлюлоза, каучук, змеиная кожа, волокно.
Рушится крыша в огне, пожар пожирает фундамент.
Остается лишь вытоптанная, песчаная, с одиноким нагим деревцем –
Земля.

Пробивая тоннель, медленно движется стражник-крот,
У него маленький красный фонарик на лбу,
Дотрагиваясь до погребенных тел, он считает и движется дальше,
По радужному мерцанью различая пепел людей, –
Пепел каждого человека особого цвета.
Пчелы окружают сотами кровавый след.
Муравьи строят леса вокруг следа моего тела.

Мне страшно. Я так боюсь стражника-крота,
Его распухших век патриарха,
Всю жизнь читавшего при свечах
Великую книгу бытия.

Что же скажу ему я – Новозаветный еврей,
Ожидающий два тысячелетья возвращенья Иисуса?
Расколотое тело мое выдаст меня его взгляду,
И он причислит меня к сонму помощников смерти –
К числу необрезанных.
 

About the Author:

Czesław Miłosz
Czesław Miłosz
Village of Šeteniai (Polish: Szetejnie), Kovno Governorate, Russian Empire (now Kėdainiai district, Kaunas County, Lithuania)/ Poland / United States

Czesław Miłosz (30 June 1911 – 14 August 2004) was a Polish-American poet, prose writer, translator, and diplomat. Miłosz survived the German occupation of Warsaw during World War II and became a cultural attaché for the Polish government during the postwar period. When communist authorities threatened his safety, he defected to France and ultimately chose exile in the United States, where he became a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His poetry—particularly about his wartime experience—and his appraisal of Stalinism in a prose book, The Captive Mind, brought him renown as a leading émigré artist and intellectual. Regarded as one of the great poets of the 20th century, he won the 1980 Nobel Prize in Literature. Czeslaw Milosz received the title of Righteous Among the Nations from Yad Vashem for saving Jews during the war.

About the Translator:

Ian Probstein
Ian Probstein
New York, USA

Ian Probstein is a poet, scholar, and translator of poetry. His most recent book in English is The River of Time: Time-Space, Language and History in Avant-Garde, Modernist, and Contemporary Poetry.  Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2017, Complete annotated edition of T. S. Eliot’s Poetry and Plays (St. Petersburg: Azbuka, 2019), Charles Bernstein. Sign Under Test: Selected Poems and Essays. (Moscow: Russian Gulliver-Center 2020).

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