Yulia Fridman’s “Maelori”. Translated by Anna Krushelnitskaya.

Also in Translations:

Yulia Fridman’s “Maelori”. Translated by Anna Krushelnitskaya.
"Maelorie" by Lucy Milko
Yulia Fridman's "Maelori". Translated by Anna Krushelnitskaya.

Come, Maelorie, come, no matter that you’d been killed.
We need a good storyteller after a trying day.
What other man knows the runes like you do, what other man is as skilled
In speaking to wine in a barrel, to smoke wafting away?

“No, my coffin is sealed, and the seal is heavy and strong.
Word is stronger still, but we Christians must stay true.
As dead men we sleep in our graves, for it is shameful and wrong
To wander the Earth with the living like your many gods do.”

Hey, don’t be stubborn, come on, we know you want to come back
To see witching fog rise to the roof and get thick,
To see hardened sounds get brittle enough for your fingers to crack,
To see a star get lit by a hidden hand like a wick,

To see a word fly from your lips like an overgrown moth,
Whose wings laid with dark streaks swing, creak and rock.
Drink up, drink up, no matter the matter of Maelorie’s death.
A dead or a living body, the body is only a frock.

Women pick them like they pick words, they spare them care and forethought.
Nobles and fops, more so than ladies, pay them more heed than due.
But for us at this table, age after age fly by and it means nearly naught.
We keep drinking up, cup after cup, and any body will do.

“You heathens have witching fog pulled over your eyes like scales.
It is with tombstone knotwork that your hearts are carved and scored.
I say, it doesn’t behoove me to come and tell you tales
When I was killed in the dark all through the will of my Lord.”

Hey, Maelorie, hey, no matter that your Christ
Sent a hired killer down to your darkling cell!
Gods are like children, they should never be coddled or enticed,
Or you will become their plaything as soon as you do as they tell.

Like their wicked bad blood, so does our wicked good ale
Give your veins a rush and your brains age-old dreams to think.
Today you are killed and dead, tomorrow hearty and hale.
No matter, no matter. Rise and come with us for a drink.

Come now, tell us the tale of the humpback without a hump,
Of Conn of a Hundred Battles and of the Little Head,
Of Swan Children of Lir whom fate did so cheat and dump,
Of Jack Master of Thieves who cheated his fate instead.

And you may never speak, but others will speak, though.
Words will fly round and round like leaves, settling in place
On boughs of tall trees, and then a garden of them will grow
Like silver frost on glass, like pearly beadwork on lace.

November 2020

 

*

— Иди, Маелори, иди, хоть ты и был убит,
Хороший рассказчик нужен после тяжелого дня.
Кто знает руны, как ты, кто, как ты, говорит
С вином из бочонка, с дымом, который идет от огня?

— Нет, мой гроб опечатан, и крепкая та печать.
Слово ее сильней, но неприлично нам,
Христианам, покойным в могиле, бесстыдно так поступать:
Бродить по земле с живыми, подобно вашим богам.

— Эй, не упрямься, ты ведь хочешь смотреть опять,
Как колдовской туман густеет у потолка,
Как затвердевший звук между пальцев легко сломать,
Как зажигает звезды невидимая рука,

Как бабочкой-переростком слово слетает с губ,
Крылья с темным узором качаются и скрипят;
Выпьем, что нам за дело, наш Маелори труп
Или живое тело? Тело — только наряд,

Женщины их выбирают трепетно, как слова,
Франты и офицеры к ним внимательней дам,
Мы ж за этим столом бег столетий следим едва,
Чашу за чашей пьем и терпимы к любым телам.

— У вас, язычных людей, в глазах колдовской туман,
В ваших сердцах — узоры могильных плит.
Мне же не подобает рассказывать сказки вам,
Если по воле Божьей я в темноте убит.

— Эй, Маелори, что с того, если твой Христос
Подослал к тебе убийцу в темную келью?
Боги, как дети, не стоит о них всерьез,
Станешь у них игрушкой, только поверь им.

Наше вино, как их недобрая кровь,
Бродит по жилам, в мозг стучится древними снами.
Нынче ты мертв, назавтра снова здоров;
Нам все равно, поднимайся и выпей с нами.

Мы хотим услышать про горбуна без горба,
Про Конна Сотни Сражений, про Маленькую Головку,
Про Лировых лебедят, как кинула их судьба,
Как Джек, Хозяин Воров, судьбу обмишурил ловко.

И если ты промолчишь, то другие не промолчат,
И будут кружить слова, оседая листвой на ветках
Высоких деревьев, и вырастет целый сад
Узором на окнах, бисером на салфетках.

10 апреля 2010

 

 

 

About the Author:

Yulia Fridman
Yulia Fridman
Moscow, Russia

Yulia Fridman, b. 1970, is a researcher at the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow. Her poetry and prose appear in various online journals. Her published translations into Russian, done jointly with Dmitri Manin, include several works of Dr. Seuss and a memoir of a prominent French mathematician Alexandre Grothendieck.

About the Translator:

Anna Krushelnitskaya
Anna Krushelnitskaya
Ann Arbor, MI. USA

Anna Krushelnitskaya (b.1975) lives in Ann Arbor, MI. Anna’s original texts and translations appear in Russian and in English in various print and online publications. She has authored two collections of poems in English. Anna’s most voluminous work is the 700-page bilingual interview collection Cold War Casual/ Простая холодная война (2019).

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