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.
~ ~ ~
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.
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.
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).
A book of poems in Russian by Victor Enyutin (San Francisco, 1983). Victor Enyutin is a Russian writer, poet, and sociologist who emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1975.
This collection of personal essays by a bi-national Russian/U.S. author offers glimpses into many things Soviet and post-Soviet: the sacred, the profane, the mundane, the little-discussed and the often-overlooked. What was a Soviet school dance like? Did communists go to church? Did communists listen to Donna Summer? If you want to find out, read on!
“Cold War Casual” is a collection of transcribed oral testimony and interviews translated from Russian into English and from English into Russian that delve into the effect of the events and the government propaganda of the Cold War era on regular citizens of countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Julia Wiener was born in the USSR a few years before the Second World War; her youth was spent during the “Thaw” period, and her maturity coincided with the years of “Soviet stagnation”, which, in her case, ended with her emigration to Israel in the early 1970s. Her wartime childhood, her Komsomol-student youth, her subsequent disillusionment, her meetings with well-known writers (Andrei Platonov, Victor Nekrasov, etc.) are described in a humorous style and colorful detail. Julia brings to life colorful characters – from her Moscow communal apartment neighbors to a hippie London lord, or an Arab family, headed by a devotee of classical Russian literature. No less diverse are the landscapes against which the events unfold: the steppes of Kazakhstan, the Garden of Gethsemane, New York, Amsterdam, London.
Julia Wiener’s novels focus on those moments when illusory human existence collapses in the face of true life, be it spiritual purity, love, old age, or death.