Robert Graves. The Cool Web. Translated by Ian Probstein

Also in Translations:

"Again Running from Forest Flame" by Henry Darger
Robert Graves. The Cool Web. Translated by Ian Probstein

Children are dumb to say how hot the day is,
How hot the scent is of the summer rose,
How dreadful the black wastes of evening sky,
How dreadful the tall soldiers drumming by.

But we have speech, to chill the angry day,
And speech, to dull the rose’s cruel scent.
We spell away the overhanging night,
We spell away the soldiers and the fright.

There’s a cool web of language winds us in,
Retreat from too much joy or too much fear:
We grow sea-green at last and coldly die
In brininess and volubility.

But if we let our tongues lose self-possession,
Throwing off language and its watery clasp
Before our death, instead of when death comes,
Facing the wide glare of the children’s day,
Facing the rose, the dark sky and the drums,
We shall go mad no doubt and die that way.

~ ~ ~

Прохладная сеть

Как жарко,— глупо дети говорят,
Как жарок летней розы аромат,
Ужасна ночью в небе черном течь
Ужасен барабан и марш солдат.

Нам речь дана чтоб гнев умерить дня
Жестокий розы аромат умерит речь.
Заклятием развеем тьму и ночь,
Закляв, солдат и страх прогоним прочь.

Прохладной сетью нас оплел язык,
От радости и страха нас храня.
Позеленев как море, мы умрем,
Многоречиво горечь изольем.

Но коль позволим самообладанье
Утратить языку перед концом,
Объятья вод, тогда в наш смертный час
Не светоч детских дней вольется в нас,
Но роза, барабан и неба мрак
Сведут с ума нас и мы сгинем так.

About the Author:

Robert Graves
England & Spain

Robert Graves (24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985) was a British poet, historical novelist, critic, and classicist. He has 55 collections of poetry to his name, 15 novels and 40 non-fiction  works.

About the Translator:

Ian . (1)
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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Three Questions. A Documentary by Vita Shtivelman
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Poetry Reading in Honor of Brodsky’s 81st Birthday
Length: 1:35:40