White Flock by Anna Akhmatova

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White Flock by Anna Akhmatova
Copyright Anna Akhmatova
Copyright English translation by Ilya Shambat ([email protected])
Origin: here

 * I * 

We thought we were beggars, we thought we had nothing at all
But then when we started to lose one thing after another,
Each day became
A memorial day —
And then we made songs
Of great divine generosity
And of our former riches.

I’ll leave your quiet yard and your white house –
Let life be empty and with light complete.
I’ll sing the glory to you in my verse
Like not one woman has sung glory yet.
And that dear girlfriend you remember
In heaven you created for her sight,
I’m trading product that is very rare –
I sell your tenderness and loving light.


Song about Song

So many stones have been thrown at me
That I don’t fear them any longer
Like elegant tower the westerner stands free
Among tall towers, the taller.
I’m grateful to their builders — so be gone
Their sadness and their worry, go away,
Early from here I can see the dawn
And here triumphant lives the sun’s last ray.
And frequently into my room’s window
The winds from northern seas begin to blow
And pigeon from my palms eats wheat..
The pages that I did not complete
Divinely light she is and calm,
Will finish Muse’s suntanned arm.


x x x

Just like a cold noreaster
At first she’ll sting,
And then a single salty tear
The heart will wring.

The evil heart will pity
Something and then regret.
But this light-headed sadness
It will not forget.

I only sow. To harvest.
Others will come. And yes!
The lovely group of harvesters
May true God bless.

And that more perfectly I could
Give to you gratitude,
Allow me to give the world
Love incorruptible.


x x x

My voice is weak, but will does not get weaker.
It has become still better without love,
The sky is tall, the mountain wind is blowing
My thoughts are sinless to true God above.
The sleeplessness has gone to other places,
I do not on grey ashes count my sorrow,
And the skewed arrow of the clock face
Does not look to me like a deadly arrow.
How past over the heart is losing power!
Freedom is near. I will forgive all yet,
Watching, as ray of sun runs up and down
The springtime vine that with spring rain is wet.


x x x

He was jealous, fearful and tender,
He loved me like God’s only light,
And that she not sing of the past times
He killed my bird colored white.

He said, in the lighthouse at sundown:
“Love me, laugh and write poetry!”
And I buried the joyous songbird
Behind a round well near a tree.

I promised that I would not mourn her.
But my heart turned to stone without choice,
And it seems to me that everywhere
And always I’ll hear her sweet voice.


x x x

True love’s memory, You are heavy!
In your smoke I sing and burn,
And the rest — is only fire
To keep the chilled soul warm.

To keep warm the sated body,
They need my tears for this
Did I for this sing your song, God?
Did I take part of love for this?

Let me drink of such a poison,
That I would be deaf and dumb,
And my unglorious glory
Wash away to the final crumb.


x x x

The blue lacquer dims of heaven,
And the song is better heard.
It’s the little trumpet made of dirt,
There’s no reason for her to complain.
Why does she forgive me,
And whoever told her of my sins?
Or is that this voice that now repeats
The last poems that you wrote for me?


x x x

Instead of wisdom — experience, bare,
That does not slake thirst, is not wet.
Youth’s gone — like a Sunday prayer..
Is it mine to forget?

On how many desert roads have searched I
With him who wasn’t dear for me,
How many bows gave in church I
For him, who had well loved me.

I’ve become more oblivious than inviting,
Quietly years swim.
Lips unkissed, eyes unsmiling —
Nothing will give me back him.


x x x

Ah! It is you again. You enter in this house
Not as a kid in love, but as a husband
Courageous, harsh and in control.
The calm before the storm is fearful to my soul.
You ask me what it is that I have done of late
With given unto me forever love and fate.
I have betrayed you. And this to repeat —
Oh, if you could one moment tire of it!
The killer’s sleep is haunted, dead man said,
Death’s angel thus awaits me at deathbed.
Forgive me now. Lord teaches to forgive.
In burning agony my flesh does live,
And already the spirit gently sleeps,
A garden I recall, tender with autumn leaves
And cries of cranes, and the black fields around..
How sweet it would be with you underground!


x x x
The muse has left along narrow
And winding street,
And with large drops of dew
Were sprinkled her feet.

For long did I ask of her
To wait for winter with me,
But she said, “The grave is here,
How can you breathe, you see?”

I wanted to give her a dove
That is whiter than all the rest
But the bird herself flew above
After my graceful guest.

Looking at her I was silent,
I loved her alone
And like gates into her country
In the sky stood the dawn.


x x x

I have ceased and desisted from smiling
The frosty wind chills lips – say so long
To one hope of which will be lesser,
Instead there will be one more song.
And this song, without my volition,
I will give out for laughter and parable,
For this that the silence of love
Is to me simply unbearable.


x x x

They’re on the way, the words of love and freedom,
They’re flying faster than the moment flies
And I am in stage fright before singing –
My lips have grown colder than ice.

But soon that place, where, leaning to the windows
The tender birches make dry rustling sound,
The voices will be ringing of the shadows
And roses will in blackened wreaths be wound.

And further onward still — the light is generous
Unbearably as though ¡®t were red hot wine..
And now the wind, all redolent and heated,
In perfect vigor has enflamed my mind.


x x x

Oh, this was a cold day
In Peter’s wonderful town!
The shadow grew dense, and the sundown
Like purple fire lay.

Let him not want my eyes fair
Prophetic and never-changing
All life long verse he’ll be catching –
My conceited lips’ empty prayer.


x x x

This way I prayed: “Slake the dumb thirst
Of singing with a sweet libation!”
But to the earthling of the earth
There can be no liberation.
Like smoke from sacrifice, that it could not
Fly Strength- and Glory-ward — alas –
But only clouded at the feet
And, as if praying, kissed the grass.
Thus I, O Lord, before thee bow:
Will reach the fire of the sky
My lashes that are closed for now
And muteness utter and divine?


x x x

In intimacy there exists a line
That can’t be crossed by passion or love’s art —
In awful silence lips melt into one
And out of love to pieces bursts the heart.

And friendship here is impotent, and years
Of happiness sublime in fire aglow,
When soul is free and does not hear
The dulling of sweet passion, long and slow.

Those who are striving toward it are in fever,
But those that reach it struck with woe that lingers.
Now you have understood, why forever
My heart does not beat underneath your fingers.


x x x

All has been taken: strength as well as love.
Into the unloved town the corpse is thrown.
It does not love the sun. I fear, that blood
Inside of me already cold has grown.

I do not recognize sweet Muse’s loving taste:
She looks ahead and does not let a word pass,
And bows a head in the dark garland dressed
Onto my chest, exhausted from the haste.

And only conscience, scarier with each day,
Wants a great ransom and for this abuses.
Closing the face, I answer her this way..
But there remain no tears and no excuses.


x x x

To lose the freshness of the words and sense, for us,
Is it same as for an artist to lose vision,
Or for an actor — voice and motion,
Or for a gorgeous woman — her finesse?

But do not seek now for yourself to keep
What heaven has given to you below:
We have been judged — and we ourselves both know —
To give away, and not to keep.

Or else alone you go to heal the blind,
To know yourself in heavy hour of doubt
The students’ smug shaudenfreude
And the uncaring of mankind.

The quiet April day has sent me
What a strange missive.
You knew that passionately in me
The scary week is still alive.
I did not hear those ringing bells
That swam along in glazier clear.
For seven days sounded copper laugh
Or poured from eyes a silver tear.
And I, then having closed my face
As for eternal parting’s moment,
Lay down and waited for her grace
That was not known yet as torment.


x x x

This city by the fearsome river
Was my crib blessed and dear
And a solemn wedding bed
Which the garlands for the head
Your young cherubs held above –
A city loved with bitter love.

The subject of my prayers
Were you, moody, calm, and austere.
There first the groom came to me
Having shown me the pathway holy,
And that sad muse of mine
Led me like one blind.
 * II * 
December 9, 1913
The darkest days of the year
Must become the most clear.
I can’t find words to compare –
Your lips are so tender and dear.

Only to raise your eyes do not dare,
Keeping the life of me.
They’re lighter than vials premier,
And deadlier for me.

I understand now, that we need no words,
The snowed branches are light, and more,
The birdcatcher, to catch birds,
Has laid nets on the rivershore.


x x x

How can you look at Nieva,
How can on the bridges you rise?
With a reason I’m sad since the time
You appeared before my eyes.
Sharp are black angels’ wings,
The last judgment is coming soon,
And raspberry fires, like roses,
In the white snow bloom.


x x x

I do not count mortal days
Under the roof of a chilled empty building,
I’m reading the Apostles’ words,
Words of Psalm-singer I am reading.
Sleet is fluffy, and stars turn blue,
And more marvelous is each meeting —
And in the Bible a leaf
On Song of Songs is sitting.


x x x

All year long you are close to me
And, like formerly, happy and young!
Aren’t you tortured already
By the traumatized strings’ dark song?
Those now only lightly moan
That once, taut, loudly rang
And aimlessly they are torn
By my dry, waxen hand.
Little is necessary to make happy
One who is tender and loving yet,
The young forehead is not touched yet
By jealousy, rage or regret.
He is quiet, does not ask to be tender,
Only stares and stares at me
And with blissful smile does he bear
My oblivion’s dreadful insanity.


x x x

Black road wove ahead of me,
Drizzling rain fell,
To accompany me
Someone asked for a spell.
I agreed, but I forgot
To see him in light of day,
And then it was strange
To remember the way.
Like incense of thousand censers
Flowed the fog
And the companion bothered
The heart with a song.
Ancient gates I remember
And the end of the way —
There the man who went with me
“Forgive,” did say.
He gave me a copper cross
Like my brother very own
And everywhere I hear the sound
Of the steppe song.
Here I am at home like home —
I cry and I am in rue
Answer to me, my stranger,
I am looking for you!


x x x

How I love, how I loved to stare
At the ironclad shores,
On the balcony, where forever
No foot stepped, not mine, not yours.
And in truth you are — a capital
For the mad and luminous us;
But when over Nieva sail
Those special, pure hours
And the winds of May fly over
You past the iron beams
You are like a dying sinner
Seeing heavenly dreams


x x x

Ancient city is as if dead,
Strange’s my coming here.
Vladimir has raised a black cross
Over the river.
Noisy elm trees, noisy lindens
In the gardens dark,
Raised to God, the needle-bearing
Stars’ bright diamond sparks.
Sacrificial and glorious
Way, I am ending here,
With me is but you, my equal,
And my love so dear.


x x x

It seems as though the voice of man
Will never sound in this place,
But only wind from age of stone
Is knocking on black gates.
It seems to me that I alone
Have kept good health under this sky,
Because of this, that first I sought
To drink the deadly wine.


Evening and slanting,
Downward goes my way.
Yesterday in love still,
“Don’t forget” you prayed.
Now there’s only shepherds’
Cry, and glancing winds,
And the worried cedars
Stand by clear springs.


x x x

Yellow and fresh are the lanterns,
Black is the road of the garden at sea.
I am very calm. Only please, do not
Talk about him with me.
You’re tender and loyal, we’ll be friends..
Have fun, kiss, together grow old..
And light months above us will fly like feathers,
Like stars made of snow and as cold.


x x x

We aren’t in the forest, there is no need for calling —
You know your jokes do not shine..
Why don’t you come to lull into quiet
This wounded conscience of mine?

You possess other worries
You have another wife
And, looking into my dry eyes,
St. Petersburg spring has arrived.

With harsh cough and with evening fever
She will punish and she will kill.
Under the smoke on the river
Nieva’s ice is no longer still.


x x x

God is unkind to gardeners and reapers.
Slanted rain coils and falls from up high
And the wide raincoats catch water,
That once had reflected the sky.

In underwater realm are fields and meadows
And the free currents sing a lot,
Plums rupture on bloated branches
And grass strands, lying down, rot.

And through the dense and watery net
I see your darling face,
A quiet park, a round porch
And a Chinese arbour-place.


x x x

All promised him to me:
The heaven’s edge, dark and kind,
And lovely Christmas sleep
And multi-ringing Easter wind,

And the red branches of a twig,
And waterfalls inside a park,
And two dragonflies
On rusty iron of a bulwark.

And I could not disbelieve,
That he’ll befriend me all alone
When on the mountain slopes I went
Along hot pathway made of stone.


x x x

Every evening I receive
A letter like a bride
To my friend I give
Response late at night.

“I’ll be guest of the white death
On my journey down.
You, my tender one, don’t do
Harm to anyone.”

And there stands a giant star
Between two wood beams,
With such calmness promising
To fulfil your dreams.


x x x

Divine angel, who betrothed us
Secretly on winter morn,
From our sadness-free existence
Does not take his darkened eyes.

For this reason we love sky,
And fresh wind, and air so thin,
And the dark tree branches
Behind fence of iron.

For this reason we love the strict,
Many-watered, and dark city,
And we love the parting,
And brief meetings’ hour.


x x x

Somewhere is light and happy, in elation,
Transparent, warm and simple life there is.
A man across the fence has conversation
With girl before the evening, and the bees
Hear only the tenderest of conversation.

And we are living pompously and hard
And follow bitter rituals like sun
When, flight past us, the unreasoned wind
Interrupts speech that’s barely begun.

But not for anything will we change the pompous
Granite city of glory, pain and lies,
The glistening wide rivers’ ice
Sunless and murky gardens, and the voice,
Though barely audible, of the Muse.


x x x

I remember you only rarely
And your fate I do not view
But the mark won’t be stripped from my soul
Of the meaningless meeting with you.

Your red house I avoid on purpose,
Your red house murky river beside,
But I know, that I am disturbing
Gravely your heart-pierced respite.

Would it weren’t you that, on to my lips pressing,
Prayed of love, and for love did wish,
Would it weren’t you that with golden verses
Immortalized my anguish

Over future I do secret magic
If the evening is truly blue,
And I divine a second meeting,
Unavoidable meeting with you.


x x x

How spacious are these squares,
How resonant bridges and stark!
Heavy, peaceful, and starless
Is the covering of the dark.

And we walk on the fresh snow
As if we were mortal people.
That we are together this hour
Unseparable — is it not a miracle?

The knees go unwittingly weaker
It seems there’s no air — so long!
You are my life’s only blessing,
You are the sun of my song.

Now the dark buildings are stirring
And I’ll fall on earth as they shake —
Inside of my village garden
I do not fear to awake.



“My dear, if we could only
Reach all the way to the seas”
“Be quiet” and descended the stairs
Losing breath and looking for keys.

Past the buildings, where sometime
We danced and had fun and drank wine
Past the white columns of Senate
Where it’s dark, dark again.

“What are you doing, you madman!”
“No, I am only in love with thee!
This evening is wide and noisy,
Ship will have lots of fun at the sea!”

Horror tightly clutches the throat,
Shuttle took us at dusk on our turn..
The tough smell of ocean tightrope
Inside trembling nostrils did burn.

“Say, you most probably know:
I don’t sleep? Thus in sleep it can be”
Only oars splashed in measured manner
Over Nieva’s waves heavy.

And the black sky began to get lighter,
Someone called from the bridge to us,
As with both hands I was clutching
On my chest the rim of the cross.

On your arms, as I lost all my power,
Like a little girl you carried me,
That on deck of a yacht alabaster
Incorruptible day’s light we’d meet.


x x x

When with a strong but tired hand
In dreary capital of nation
Upon the whiteness of the page
I did record my recantations,

And wind into the window round
Poured in a wet and silent stream
The sky was burning, burning bright
With smoky dawn, it so did seem.

I did not look at the Nieva,
The dawn-drenched granite did not view,
And it appeared that that I, awake, my
Unforgettable, saw you..

But then the unexpected night
Covered the before-autumn town,
That, so as to assist my flight,
The ashen shadows melted down.

I only took with me the cross,
That you had given on day of treason
That wormwood steppe should be in bloom
And winds, like sirens, sing in season.

And here upon an empty wall
He keeps me from the broodings dour
And I don’t fear to recall
Anything – even the final hour.


Village of the Tsar Statue

Upon the swan pond maple leaves
Are gathered already, you see,
And bloodied are the branches dark
Of slowly blooming quicken-tree.

Blindingly elegant is she,
Crossing her legs that don’t feel cold
Upon the northern stone sits she
And calmly looks upon the road.

I felt the gloomy, dusky fear
Before this woman of delight
As on her shoulders played alone
The rays of miserable light.

And how could I forgive her yet
Your shining praise by love deluded
Look, she is happily in sorrow,
And in such elegance denuded.


x x x

In the sleep to me is given
Our last eden of stars up high
City of clean water towers,
Golden Bakchisarai

There behind a colored fencing
By the pensive water stalled
Village of the Tsar’s gardens
With rejoicing we recalled.

And the eagles of Catherine
Suddenly recognized – it’s that!
He had flown to valley bottom
From the ornate bronze-clad gate.

That the song of parting heartache
In the memory longer lives,
The dark-bodied mother autumn
Brought to me the redding leaves

And she sprinkled on her soles
Where we parted in the sun
And from where for land of shadows
You had left, my soothing one.


x x x

I have visions of hilly Pavlovsk,
Meadow circular, water dead,
With most heavy and most shady,
All of this I will never forget.

In the cast-iron gates you will enter,
Blissful tremor the flesh does rile,
You don’t live, but you’re screaming and ranting
Or you live in another style.

In late autumn fresh and biting
Wanders wind, for its loneliness glad.
In white gowns dressed the black fir trees
On the molten snow stand.

And, filled up with a burning fever,
Dear voice sounds like song without word,
And on copper shoulder of Cytharus
Sits the red-chested bird.


x x x

Immortelle’s dry and pink. On the fresh heaven
The clouds are roughly pasted, almost dark.
The leaves of only oak within the park
Are still colorless and thin.

The rays of dusk are burning until midnight.
How nice it is inside my cramped abode!
Today with me converse many-a-bird
About the most tender, in delight.

I’m happy. But the way,
Forest and smooth, is to me most dear,
The crippled bridge, curved a bit here,
And that remain only several days.


x x x

She came up. I did not show my worry,
Calmly looking outside the windows.
She sat down, like ceramic idol
In a long-ago-chosen pose.

To be happy — is well-accustomed,
But attentive — is harder just might.
Or the dark shadow has been overpowered
After many a jasmine March night?

Tiring din of the conversations,
Yellow chandelier’s lifeless light
And the glimmer of crafty gadgets
Underneath the arm raised and light.

My companion looks at her with hope
And to her flashes a smile..
O my happy and wealthy heir,
Read from my will.

 * III * 


May Snow

Upon fresh ground falls and melts
At once unnoticed a thin film.
The harsh and chilly spring
The ripened buds does kill.
Sight of early death is so horrid
That I can’t look at God’s creation, and am riven
With sadness, to which king David
Millenia of life has given.


x x x

Why do you pretend to be
A wind, a bird, or a stone?
Why do you smile at me
From the sky with a sudden dawn?

Do not torment me, do not touch!
Leave me to wise cares, away!
The inebriated flame sways
Over dried-up marshes gray.

And Muse in a torn kerchief
Sings disconsolate and at length.
In harsh and youthful anguish
Is her miraculous strength.


x x x

Transparent glass of empty sky
The bleached-out bulky prison building
And churchgoers’ solemn singing
Over Volkhov, growing blue with light.

September wind tore leaves birch off
Through branches tossed and screamed with hate
And city recollects its fate:
Here ruled Martha and Arackcheyev.


July 1914


Smells like burning. For four weeks now
The dry ground on the swamplands bakes.
Today even birds did not sing songs
And the aspen-tree does not shake.

Sun has stopped in divine displeasure
Easter rain did not pelt fields hard.
A one-legged passerby came here
And alone said in the yard:

“Awful times near. For freshly dug graves
There will be not be enough place soon.
Expect pest, expect plague, expect coward,
And eclipses of Sun and Moon.

But the enemy won’t get to divide
Our lands for his fun:
Holy Mary will spread on her own
Over great sorrows a white gown”


From the burning forests is flying
Sweet smell of the evergreens.
Over children soldiers’ wives are moaning
Cry of widows through village rings.

Not in vain were the prayers rendered,
The earth was thirsty for rain:
The stomped-over fields with red dampness
Were covered and covered remain.

Low, low is the empty heaven,
And quiet is the praying one’s voice:
“They will wound your most holy body
And cast dice about your acts of choice.”


x x x

That voice, with great quietude arguing,
Had a victory over her.
In me still, like song or woe,
Is last winter before the war.

She was whiter than Smolny Cathedral
More mysterious than summer garden festooned
We didn’t know that in parting sadness
We’d be looking back soon.


x x x

To say goodbye we don’t know –
It’s already nearing night,
We are walking shoulder to shoulder,
You are pensive and I am quiet

We’ll walk into church, we’ll witness
The singing, the wedding, the cross,
Not seeing each other, we’ll exit..
Why are things not working for us?

Or we’ll sit on the pressed-down snow
In a cemetery, lightly sigh,
And you with your stick paint the palace
Where together we’ll be for all time.



You won’t hear about him any longer,
You won’t hear about him in the wind,
In the mournful fire-consumed Poland
His grave you will not find.

May your spirit be still an peaceful,
There will be no losses now:
He is new warrior of God’s army,
Do not be about him in sorrow.

In the dear, beloved home
It’s sinful to cry and feel blue.
Think, now you can make prayer
To the man who stood up for you.


x x x

Did for this, and for this only,
In my arms I carry you,
Did for this the strength flash
In your gorgeous eyes of blue?
Tall and elegant you have grown,
You sang songs, Madeira drank,
To the far-off Anatolia
You have driven your mine tank.

On the Malahov’s kurgan
They shot an officer with a gun.
Less than a week for 20 years
He saw God’s light with eyes so dear.



Give me bitter years in malady
Breathlessness, sleeplessness, fever,
Both a friend and a child and mysterious
Gift take away forever —
Thus I pray after your liturgy
After many exhausting days,
That the cloud over dark Russia
Become cloud in the glory of rays.


x x x
“Where is your gypsy boy, tall one,
That over black kerchief did weep,
Where is your small first child
What memory of him do you keep?”

“Mother’s role is a sweet torture,
I was not worthy of it.
The gate dissolved into white heaven,
Magdalene took the kid.

“Each day for me is happy and jolly,
I got lost in a too-long spring,
Only arms pine away for a burden
Only his cries in my sleep ring.

“The heart will be restless and weary
And no memory cross my mind,
I still wander in rooms dark and bleary
And his crib still attempt to find.”


x x x

How often did I curse
This sky, this earth as well,
The slowly waving arms
Of this ancient windmill.
In a wing there lies a dead man,
Straight and grayhaired, on a bench,
As he did three years ago.
Thus the mice whet with their teeth
Books, thus the stearine candle
Leans its flame to the left.
And the odious tambourine
From the Nizhny Novgorod
Sings an uningenious song
Of my bitter happiness.
And the brightly painted
Dahlias stood straight
Along silver road.
Where are snails and wormwood.
Thus it was: Incarceration
Became second country,
And the first I cannot dare
Recollect even in prayer.


x x x

In boat or in horsecart
This way you cannot go
Deep water stands and lingers
In the decrepit snow
Surrounding the mansion
From every side by now..
Ah! Closely wails it over
The same Robinson Crusoe.
The sled, the skies, the horse
He will come by to see,
And later on the couch
He sits and waits for me
And with a short spore
He tears the rug in two.
Now the brief smile of mine
The mirror will not view.


x x x

Bow of moon I see, I see
Through dense canopy of groves,
Level sound I hear, I hear
Of the free horse’s hooves.

What? And you don’t want to sleep,
In a year could you forget
Me, nor are you used to find
Empty and unmade your bed?

Not with you then do I speak
Through sharp cries of hunting birds,
Not in your eyes do I look
From white pages full of words?

Why you circle, like a thief
At the quiet habitat?
Or recall the verdict and
Wait for me alive like that?

I’m asleep. In dense dark, moon
Threw a blade just like a dart.
There is knocking. In this way
Beats my warm and precious heart.


x x x

We noiselessly walked through the house,
Not waiting for anything.
They showed me way to the sick man,
And I did not recognize him.

He said, “Now let God have the glory”
And became more thoughtful and blue.
“It’s long time that I hit the road,
I’ve only been waiting for you.

So you bother me in my fever,
I keep those words from you.
Tell me: can you not forgive me?”
And I said, “I can do.”

It seemed, that the walls were shining
From floor to the ceiling that day.
Upon the silken blanket
A withered arm lay.

And the thrown-over predatory profile
Became horribly heavy and stark,
And one could not hear the breathing
Through the bitten-up lips turned dark.

But suddenly the last bit of strength
Came alive in the eyes of blue:
“It is good that you released me,
Not always kind were you.”

And then the face became younger,
And I recognized him once more.
And then I said, “Holy Father,
Accept a slave of yours.”


x x x

I came over to the pine forest.
It is hot, and the road is not short.
He pushed back the door and came out
Greyhaired, luminous, short.

He looked at me, insolent bastard,
And muttered at once, “Christ’s bride!
Do not envy success of the happy,
A place for you there does hide.

Do forget your parents’ abode,
Get accustomed to open heaven
You will sleep on the straw and dirty,
And will meet a blissful end.”

Truly, the priest must have heard
On the way back my singing voice
As I of untold happiness
Marveled and rejoiced.


x x x

The other cranes shout “Cour-lee”
Calling a wounded one
When autumn fields around
Are fallow and warm.

And I, being sick, hear calling,
The noise of golden wings
From dense and low clouds
And thick underbrush.

“It’s time to fly, it’s time to fly,
Over the field and river.
For you already cannot sing
And wipe a tear from a cheek
With a weakened arm.”


x x x

I will quietly in the churchyard
Sleep on wooden boards in the sun,
On the Sunday as guest to mother
You will come, my dear one —
Through the river over the mountain
Can’t catch up to grown ones
From afar, the sharp-eyed fellow,
This my cross you’ll recognize.
I know, dear one, very little
Can you now recall of me:
Did not scold you, did not fawn you,
Did not hold the cup to thee.


x x x

With pride your spirit is darkened
For this you won’t know world at all.
You say that this faith is a dream
And mirage is this capital.

You say that my country is sinful,
Your country is godless, I scream.
May the guilt still lie upon us —
We can correct and redeem.

Around you are water and flowers
Why seek a beggar and sinner, my dear?
I know that you’re sick very badly:
You seek death and the end you fear.


x x x

The early chills are most pleasant to me.
Torment releases me when I come there.
Mysterious, dark places of habitation —
Are storehouses of labor and prayer.

The calm and confident loving
I can’t surmount in this side of mine:
A drop of Novgorod blood inside me
Is like a piece of ice in foamy wine.

And this can not in any way be corrected,
She has not been melted by great heat,
And what ever I began to glory —
You, quiet one, shine before me yet.


x x x

I dream less of him, dear God be gloried,
Does not shimmer everywhere any more.
Fog has fallen on the whitened road,
Shadows run over water to the shore.

And all day the ringing did not quiet
Over the expanse of ploughed up soil,
Here most powerfully from Jonah
Distant Laurel belltowers do recoil.

I am trimming on the lilac bushes
Branches, that are now in full flower;
Ramparts of the ancient fortifying
Two old monks are slowly walking over.

Dear world, understood and corporeal,
For me, one unseeing, set alive.
Heal this soul of mine, the King of Heaven,
With the icy comfort of not love.


x x x

We’ll be with each other, dear,
All now know we are together,
And the wily laughs and putdowns
Like a distant tambourine
Can’t insult us any longer
And can’t give us injury.
Where we married — we don’t know,
But this church at once did glimmer
With that furious beaming light
That only the angels know
How to bring upon white wings.

And the time is now such,
Fearful city, fearful year.
How can now be parted
Me from you and you from me?


In Memory of June 19, 1914

We have grown old by hundred years, and this
Happened to us in one hour then:
The brief summer was already ending,
Steamed the body of ploughed-up plain.

Suddenly glistened the quiet road,
Cry flew, ringing silverly..
Closing my face, I was praying to God
Before first battle to murder me.

From mind the shades of songs and passions
Disappeared like load from misuse.
To her — descended — the Almighty ordered
To be the fearful book of menacing news.


 * IV * 
x x x

Before the spring arrives there are such days:
Under the thick snow cover rests the lawn,
The dry-and-jolly trees are making noise,
Tender and strong, the wind is warm.
And body is amazed at its own lightness,
And your own home is alien to you,
And song that had just previously been tiring
With worry you are singing just like new.


x x x

The fifth time of the year,
Only the praise of his.
Breathe with the final freedom,
Because love is this.
The sky has flown up high,
The objects’ contours are light,
And the body does not celebrate any longer
The anniversary of its plight.


x x x

I myself have freely chosen
Fate of the friend of my heart:
To the freedom under gospel
I allowed him to depart.
And the pigeon came back, beating
On the window with all might
Like from shine of divine restments,
In the room it became light.



I know that you dreamed of me,
That’s why I could not sleep.
The muddy light had turned blue
And showed me the path to keep.

You saw the queen’s garden,
White palace, luxurious one,
And the black patterned fence
Before resounding stone perron.

You went, not knowing the way,
And thinking, “Faster, faster!
If only to find her now,
Not wake before meeting her.”

And the janitor at the red gate
Shouted at you, “Where to, alack!”
The ice crackled and broke,
Underfoot, water went black.

“This is the lake, and inside
There’s an island,” thus thought you.
And then suddenly from the dark
Appeared a fire hot-blue.

Awakening, you did moan
In harsh light of a nasty day,
And then at once you called
For me loudly by my name.


White House

Sun is frosty. In parade
Soldiers march with all their might.
I am glad at the January noon,
And my fear is very light.

Here they remember each branch
And every silhouette.
The raspberry light is dripping
Through a snow-whitened net.

Almost white was the house,
Made of glass was the wing.
How many times with numb arm
Did I hold the doorbell’s ring.

How many times.. play, soldiers,
I’ll make my house, I’ll espy
You from a roof that’s inclined,
From the ivy that does not die.

But who at last did remove it,
Took away into foreign lands
Or took out from the memory
Forever the road thence..

Snow flies, like a cherry blossom,
Distant bagpipes desist..
And, it seems like, nobody knows
That the white house does not exist.


x x x

He walked over fields and over village,
And asked people from afar:
“Where is she, where is the happy glimmer
Of her eyes that are gray stars?

Here the final days of spring
Come along, in turbid fire.
Still more frequent, still more tender
Are the dreams I have of her.”

And he came in the dark city
In the quiet evening time
He was thinking then of Venice
And of London all the same.

At the church both tall and dark
Stepped on shining stairs’ granite
And he prayed then of the coming
Meeting with his first delight.

And above the altar made of gold
Flamed away the garden of God’s rays:
“Here she is, here is the happy glimmer
Of gray joyous stars that are her eyes.”


x x x

Wide and yellow’s evening light,
Tender is the April chill,
You are late by many years
But I am glad of you still.

Come and sit right next to me,
With the happy eyes come look:
Here, my childhood poetry
Is in this blue notebook.

That I lived sorrowful and little
Was I glad of the sun, forgive.
And forgive, that in your stead I
Many others did receive.


x x x

Whether to look for you on earth —
I don’t know if you’re dead or you live —
Or about you in the evening
I should for you, departed, grieve.

All is for you: and the daily prayer
And the sleeplessness’ swooning flame
And the white flock of my poems
And my eyes’ blue violent flame.

No one was dearer to me, no one,
No one left me this bereft,
Not even he who betrayed me to torment,
Not even he who caressed, then left.


x x x

No, my prince, I am not the one
On whom you’d rather lay your eyes,
And for long these lips of mine
Do not kiss, but prophesize.

Do not think I’m in delirium
Or with boredom I do whine
Loudly I speak of pain:
It’s the very trade of mine.

And I know how to teach,
That the unexpected happened,
How to tame for centuries
Her, whose love is so rapid.

You want glory? Ask from me
For advice for this your plight,
Only it is but a trap,
There’s no joy here and no light.

Well, go home, and forget
This our meeting, I implore,
And for your sin, my dear one,
I’ll respond before the Lord.


x x x

From memory of you I will remove that day,
So that your helpless-foggy look will ask this:
Where did I see the Persian lilac bush,
The swallows and the wooden house?

Oh, how often will you recollect
The sudden angst of the uncalled desires
And in the pensive cities you did seek
That street which was not on the map entire!

Upon the sound of voice behind an open door,
Upon the sight of every accidental letter,
You will remember: “Here has she herself
Come to assist my disbelief unfettered.”


x x x

Did not scold me, did not praise me,
Like friends and like enemies.
Only left his soul to me
And then said, “Now keep in peace.”

And one thing worries me so:
If this moment he will die,
God’s archangel will come to me
For his soul from the sky.

How then will I hide her so,
How to hide it from God’s eyes?
She, the soul, that cries and sings so
Must be in His paradise.


x x x

My shadow has remained there and is angstful,
In that blue room she still to this day lives,
She waits for guests from city beyond midnight
And to enamel image gives a kiss.
And things are not quite well around the house:
It still is dark, although they lit the flame..
Not from all this the hostess is in boredom,
Not from all this the host drinks all the same
And hears how on the other side of the thin wall
The guest arrived talks to me at all?


x x x

I see capital through the flurry
On this Monday night twenty-first.
Some do-nothing has made up the story
That love exists on the earth.

And from laziness or from boredom
All believed, and thus they live:
Wait for meeting, fear the parting,
And sing songs of love.

But to others opens a secret
And upon them descends a still..
I by accident came upon this
And since then am as if I’m ill.


x x x

On the blooming lilac bushes
Sky is sowing the light rain.
Beats with wings upon the window
The white, the white Spirits’ day.

For a friend to be returning
From the sea – especial hour.
I am dreaming of the far shore,
Of the stone, sand and tower.

I will enter, meeting light,
On the top of one of these towers.
In the land of swamps and fields
There are in memory no towers.

Only I will sit on the porch,
There, where dense shadows lay.
Help me in my fright, at last,
The white, the white Spirits’ day.


x x x

I know, that you are my reward
For years of labor and of pain,
For that unto the earthly pleasures
I never did myself betray,
For that I never ever told
Unto my loved one, “You are loved.”
For that I did forgive all people
You’ll be my angel from above.


x x x

Yes, I had loved them, those meetings of the nights –
Upon small table a glass filled with ice,
Above black coffee thick and smelly steam,
From the red heater heavy winter heat,
The stinging mirth of literary parable
And first look of the friend, helpless and terrible.


x x x

Not mystery and not sadness,
Not the wise will of fate –
These meetings have always given
Impression of fight and hate.

And I, having guessed your coming’s
Minute and circumstance,
In the bent arms the slightly
Tingling feeling did sense.

And with dry fingers I mangled
The colorful tablecloth..
I understood even then
How small was this earth.


To my dear one

Do not send a dove in my direction,
Do not write tumultuous notes at all,
Do not fan my face with the March breeze.
I have now entered a green heaven,
Where there’s calm for body and for soul
Underneath the shady maple trees.

And from here I can see a town,
Booths and barracks of a palace made of stone
Chinese yellow bridge over the ice.
For three hours now you wait for me — you’re frozen,
But you cannot move from the perron,
At the stars you marvel with your eyes.

Like a gray squirrel you’ll jump on the alder,
Like a frightful swallow I will go,
I will then call for you like a swan,
So that the bridegroom would not fear
In the blue and swirling falling snow
To await his deceased bride alone.


x x x

Has my fate really been so altered,
Or is this game truly truly over?
Where are winters, when I fell asleep
In the morning in the sixth hour?

In a new way, severely and calmly,
I now live on the wild shore.
I can no longer pronounce
The tender or idle word.

I can’t believe that Christmas-tide is coming.
Touchingly green is this the steppe before
The beaming sun. Like a warm
Wave, licks the tender shore.

When from happiness languid and tired
I was, then of such quiet
With trembling inexpressible I dreamed
And this in my imagining I deemed
The after-mortal wandering of the soul.


x x x

Like a white stone at the bottom of the well,
One memory lies in me.
I cannot and I do not want to struggle,
It is both joy and suffering.

I think that anyone who looks into my
Eyes will all at once see him.
More sad and pensive he’ll become
That heard the story of this suffering.

I know that the gods had turned
People to objects, without killing mind,
That divine sadness lived eternally.
You’re turned into my memory, I find.


x x x

The first ray — as the blessing of the Lord —
Across the face of the beloved did creep,
Who, sleeping, went a little pale,
And then again more tightly went to sleep.

It seemed that warmth of ray of sun
Appeared to him just like a kiss…
And long with these my lips I have not touched
The tan strong shoulder or the dear lips.

And now, the deceased spirits in my long
Disconsolate wandering along the way,
I am now flying toward him as a song
And I caress him with a morning ray.


x x x

Not thus, from cursed lightness having disembarked,
I look with worry on the chambers dark?
Already used to ringing high and raw,
Already judged not by the earthly law,
I, like a criminal, am being drawn along
To place of shame and execution long.
I see the glorious city, and the voice most dear,
As though there is no secret grave to fear,
Where day and night, in heat and in cold bent,
I must await the Final Judgment.


x x x

I was born not late and not early,
This time is blessed and meet,
Only God did not allow a heart
To live long without deceit.

And from this it is dark in the light room,
And from this do the friends I’ve sought,
Like the sorrowful birds of evening,
Sing of love that was not.


x x x

Best for me loudly the gaming-poems to say,
And for you the hoarse harmonica to play!

And having left, hugging, for the night of late,
Lose a band from a stiff, tight plait.

Best for me your child to rock and sway,
And for you to make fifty rubles in a day,

And to go on memory day to cemetery
There to look upon the white God’s lilac tree.


x x x

I will lead a man to dear one —
I don’t want the little joy —
And I’ll quietly lay to sleep
The glad, tired little boy.

In a chilly room once more
I will pray to Mother of God,
It is hard to be a hermit,
To be happy is also hard.

Only fiery sleep will come to me,
I’ll enter a temple on the hill,
Five-domed, white, and stone-hewn,
On the paths remembered well.


x x x

The spring was still mysteriously swooning,
Across the hills wandered transparent wind
And the deep lake was growing blue among us —
A temple forged and kept not by mankind.

You were affrighted of our first encounter,
And prayed already for the second one,
And now today once more is the hot evening —
How low over the mountain dropped the sun..

You aren’t with me, but this is not a parting:
For me triumphant news is in each moment.
I know that you can’t even pronounce a word
For so complete within you is the torment.


x x x

In Kievan temple of the divine wisdom
Falling to my knees, I did before thee vow
That your way will be my way
Wherever it will go.

Thus heard Yaroslav in a white coffin
And angels made of gold in his stead.
Like pigeons, weave the simple words
And now near the sunny heads.

And if I get weak, I dream of an icon
And there are ten steps on it, all are blessed.
In menacing voice of the Sofian ringing
I hear the sound of your unrest.


x x x

City vanished, the last house’s window
Stared like one living and stark…
This place is totally unfamiliar,
Smells of burning, and field is dark.

But when the curtain of thunder
Moon had cut, indecisive and wan,
We could see: On the hill, to the forest,
Hobbled a handicapped man.

It was frightening, that he’s overcoming
The three horses, sated and glad,
He stood up and then again waddled
Under his heavy load.

We had almost failed to notice him
Before the nomad-tent taking his place.
Just like stars the blue eyes were shining,
Lighting the tormented face.

And I proffered to him the child,
Raising arms with the trace of a chain
He pronounced with joy and with ringing:
“May your son live and healthy remain.”


x x x

Oh, there are unrepeated words,
Who ever said wasted more than he should.
Inexhaustible only is the blue
Of sky and generosity of God.