Laura Riding’s “Helen’s Faces”. Translated by Dmitri Manin

Also in Translations:

11Helen of Troy. Canova, Antonio (1)
Helen of Troy, by Antonio Canova (1757-1822)
Laura Riding's "Helen's Faces". Translated by Dmitri Manin


Bitterly have I been contested for,
Though never have I counted numbers–
They were too many, less than all.
And kindly have I warded off
Contest and bitterness,
Given each a replica of love,
Beguiled them with fine images.

To their hearts they held them.
Her dear face, its explicitness!
Clearly, of all women, the immediate one
To these immediate men.

But the original woman is mythical,
Lies lonely against no heart.
Her eyes are cold, see love far off,
Read no desertion, when love removes
The images out of fashion.

Undreamed of in her many faces
That each kept off the plunderer:
Contest and bitterness never raged round her.



Бились за меня жестоко,
Сколько точно, не знаю, не считала:
Много было их, хоть и не все.
Мягко я отводила
Соперничество и ревность,
Каждому слепок любви давала,
Чаровала прекрасной личиной.

К сердцу они прижимали
Милый лик в его очевидности!
Вот ведь самая близкая из женщин
Для этих мужей недалеких.

Но настоящая женщина — миф,
Одинока, к сердцу не прижата.
Очи холодны, видят любовь вдалеке,
Предательства не видят, когда личины
У любви выходят из моды.

Невообразима за своими ликами,
Каждый — как щит от мародеров;
Соперничество и ревность до нее не касались.

About the Author:

Laura Riding

Laura Riding Jackson (born Laura Reichenthal; January 16, 1901 – September 2, 1991), best known as Laura Riding, was an American poet, critic, novelist, essayist, and short story writer. Although not as well-known as some of her famous contemporaries, such as Ezra Pound or H.D., she was one of the greatest American poets.

About the Translator:

manin_2021 (1)
Dmitri Manin
California, USA

Dmitri Manin is a physicist, programmer, and translator of poetry. His translations from English and French into Russian have appeared in several book collections. His latest work is a complete translation of Ted Hughes’ “Crow” (Jaromír Hladík Press, 2020) and Allen Ginsberg’s “The Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems” (Podpisnie Izdaniya, 2021). Dmitri’s Russian-to-English translations have been published in journals (Cardinal Points, Delos, The Café Review, Metamorphoses etc) and in Maria Stepanova’s “The Voice Over” (CUP, 2021). In 2017, his translation of a poem by Stepanova won the Compass Award competition.

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