Tatiana Shcherbina. Literary Limericks. Translations by J. Kates

Also in Translations:

Akhmatova, by Amadeo Modigliani, 1911. Государственная Третьяковская Галерея. Бумага, карандаш. 54 x 47,1.
Tatiana Shcherbina. Literary Limericks. Translations by J. Kates

Akhmatova, Anna Andréevna,
As a kid had a cat whose behavior
Was not to be pitied:
Its fur had been knitted
Into a shawl someone gave her.


У Анны Андревны Ахматовой
был в детстве котенок лохматовый.
Котенка не жаль,
пошел он на шаль
на плечи великой Ахматовой.


* * *

Pasternak, like us all, was born nude.
He pewked and he puled and he mewed
Till he swapped in his nappy
For something more snappy
And a sex life especially crude.


Родившись, Борис Пастернак
был косноязычен и наг.
Подрос, огляделся,
слегка приоделся
и стал сексуальны маньяк.


* * *

He followed her just like a lamb,
But she told him, “I don’t give a damn,”
She said when he bleated,
And again she repeated,
“Give it up, you’re a pest, Mandelstam.”


За ней он ходил по пятам.
Она говорила: не дам.
Она говорила,
она повторила:
«Настырный же Вы, Мандельштам».


* * *

A face that could turn dogs away
‘s what I see, thought the idle Sergéy.
He was looking at Lenin,
This Sérgey Yesenin,
And not in a mirror that day.


Какая противная рожа, –
со скукой подумал Сережа.
Той рожей был Ленин.
Сережей – Есенин,
и были они непохожи.


* * *

One day at Shakhmatovo Blok
And his mother sat down for a talk:
“A lawyer I’ll be
Or a trouper, you’ll see!”
“Give it up, you’re no genius, my chuck.”


Однажды в Шахматово Блок
Вел с мамой такой диалог:
Хочу быть юристом,
Хочу быть артистом!
– Да ты ж не отличник, милок.



Translated from Russian by J.Kates,  a minor poet and a literary translator who lives in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. His translations of Ttiana Shcherbina (The Score of the Game: Zephyr Press and An Offshoot of Sense: Cold Hub Press) remain in print.

About the Author:

Татьяна Щербина foto
photo by Tofik Shakhverdiev
Tatiana Shcherbina
Moscow, Russia

Tatiana Shcherbina is a poet and essayist.  A graduate of the philology faculty of Moscow State University, she has authored many collections of poetry (one of them, in French) and several books of essays. Her books have been translated and published in France, Canada, Great Britain, USA, New Zealand, Slovenia, and Greece. Her books include  “Zero Zero” (1991), “Life Without” (1997), “Dialogues with an Angel” (1999), “The Book of Plus and Minus …” (2001), “Azure Tablet” (2003), “Stock Strength “(2006),” Confessions of a Spy “(2007),” France, Magic Hexagon”(2007), Escape of Meaning “(2008),”They Drowned”(2009), “Reproduction of the Personality “(2010), “Crocozyabry “(2011), “Chronicles. Poems “(2017), and “Anthropological travel” (2019).

Tatiana Shcherbina J. Kates Татьяна Щербина Дж. Кейтс
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