Michael Romm. Translation by Mark Wingrave

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Michael Romm. Translation by Mark Wingrave
Van Gogh's "Peasant Burning Weeds" (1883, a sketch made in a letter)
Michael Romm. Translation by Mark Wingrave

The fire burns, coals fade within
The thick and formless smoke.
Words voiced, though ill defined
Miss the mark, irrelevant, and drift.

The darkness issues words,
Fragmented scraps of sound
Contracting as though worms,
Cast-off ends upon the ground.

A scaffolding of sorts remains
Between the lines roots are hidden,
Replaced with abbreviations
And contractions everywhere

Speech deteriorates to moos,
Hollow and drawn out
It’s not as if it’s mute-
Silence means so much.

Gaps widen breaks in words
Their sound is faint and thin.
Like half-broken airwaves
A radio’s weak reception.

I pour water onto ashes
It’s become a lifelong calling:
Leaning over scant pages,
Reviving words once dead.


Костёр горит, и угли тают
В густой бесформенности дыма.
Слова звучат, но попадают
Не в суть, не в яблочко, а мимо.

Слова, рождённые из черни,
Теряют целостность звучанья
И сокращаются, как черви,
Отбрасывая окончанья,

И остаётся арматура,
А корни скрыты между строчек,
Повсюду аббревиатура
Их заменяет – так короче.

Речь вырождается в мычанье,
Оно протяжно и полого,
Оно не то, чтобы молчанье –
Молчанье может значить много.

Зияют на словах прорехи,
И звука в них густого мало.
Они похожи на помехи
Плохого радиосигнала.

Я воду лью на пепелище –
Мне ремесло уже не ново:
Склоняться над бумагой нищей,
Из мёртвых воскрешая слово.

12, 14 Мая 1999 года

About the Author:

Michael Romm
Michael Romm
San Diego, USA

Michael Romm was born in Moscow and moved to San Diego, California, in 1992, at the age of 24. He writes poetry and short prose in Russian, and, sometimes, translates other authors from English into Russian. Between 2001 and 2019, he published a number of books in Moscow and San Diego.

About the Translator:

Mark Wingrave
Mark Wingrave
Melbourne, Australia.

Mark Wingrave was born in the UK and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. He is an artist and translator, who makes text-based paintings and artist’s books. Mark has exhibited internationally and his translations from Russian to English have appeared in Circumference, Articulation, Russian Free Verse, and Soanyway (collaboration with Gala Uzryutova). He received an MA from Chelsea School of Art, and a Scholarship in Painting at the British School at Rome. Future projects include residencies at Petrozavodsk (Karelian Art Residence) and Ulyanovsk (UNESCO Literary Residency).

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Michael Romm Михаил Ромм
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