Russian Legacy

Boris Pasternak
(1890-1960)

Born in Moscow, the son of a painter and academician Leonid Pasternak, he graduated in 1913 from the philosophical department of the Faculty of History and Philology at Moscow University. In the summer of 1912 he studied philosophy at the University of Marburg and went to Italy where he visited Florence and Venice. Profoundly impressed by Scryabin's music, he devoted the next six years to studying composition. His first poetry was published in 1913. In 1917 Pasternak wrote a wonderful series of lyrics, which forms the book "My Sister Life". This led to him being numbered as one of the most important poets of his time. After the revolution of 1917 the poet worked in the department of libraries of the Peoples' Commissariat of Education. In 1920 he joined LEF, the literary grouping, which was founded by Vladimir Mayakovsky. The main work of his life was a two-volume novel "Doctor Zhivago". He received the Nobel's award in 1958 for this work. It was the start of his conflict with the ruling circles. This novel was forbidden for publishing in USSR immediately after it was created. The rulers took the fact of awarding as a slap in their face. The poet was called to court for "parasitism". The formal reason was the absence of the special poetic education. He was excluded from the Union of the Writers.

Winter's Night

Blizzards were blowing everywhere
Throughout the land.
A candle burned upon the table,
A candle burned.

As midgets in the summer fly
Towards a flame,
The snowflakes from the yard swarmed to
The window pane.

And, on the glass, bright snowy rings
And arrows formed.
A candle burned upon the table,
A candle burned.

And on the white illumined ceiling
Shadows were cast,
As arms and legs and destinies
Fatefully crossed.

Two slippers fell on to the floor
With a light sound,
And waxen tears dripped from the candle
On to a gown.

No object in the misty whiteness
Could be discerned.
A candle burned upon the table,
A candle burned.

A mild draught coming from the corner
Blew on the candle,
Seduction's heat raised two wings crosswise
As might an angel.

It snowed and snowed that February
All through the land.
A candle burned upon the table,
A candle burned.

Зимняя ночь

Мело, мело по всей земле
Во все пределы.
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

Как летом роем мошкора
Летит на пламя,
Слетались хлопья со двора
К оконной раме.

Метель лепила на столе
Кружки и стрелы.
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

На озаренный потолок
Ложились тени,
Скрещенья рук, скркщенья ног,
Судьбы скрещенья.

И падали два башмачка
Со стуком на пол,
И воск слезами с ночника
На платье капал.

И все терялось в снежной мгле
Седой и белой.
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.

На свечку дуло из угла,
И жар соблазна
Вздымал, как ангел, два крыла
Крестообразно.

Мело весь месяц в феврале,
И то и дело
Свеча горела на столе,
Свеча горела.


***

There'll be no one in the house
Save for twilight. All alone,
Winter's day seen in the space that's
Made by curtains left undrawn.

Only flash-past of the wet white
Snowflake clusters, glimpsed and gone.
Only roofs and snows, and save for
Roofs and snow - no one at home.

Once more, frost will trace its patterns,
I'll be haunted once again
By my last-year's melancholy,
By that other wintertime.

Once more I'll be troubled by an
Old, un-expiated shame,
And the icy firewood famine
Will press on the window-pane.

But the quiver of intrusion
Through those curtain folds will run
Measuring silence with your footsteps,
Like the future, in you'll come.

You'll appear there in the doorway
Wearing something white and plain,
Something in the very stuff from
Which the snowflakes too are sewn.


***

Никого не будет в доме,
Кроме сумерек. Один
Зимний день в сквозном проеме
Незадернутых гардин.

Только белых мокрых комьев
Быстрый промельк моховой.
Только крыши, снег и, кроме
Крыш и снега, - никого.

И опять зачертит иней,
И опять завертит мной
Прошлогоднее унынье
И дела зимы иной,

И опять кольнут доныне
Неотпущенной виной,
И окно по крестовине
Сдавит голод дровяной.

Но нежданно по портьере
Пробежит вторженья дрожь.
Тишину шагами меря,
Ты, как будущность, войдешь.

Ты появишься у двери
В чем-то белом, без причуд,
В чем-то впрямь из тех материй,
Из которых хлопья шьют.


***

February. Get ink, shed tears.
Write of it, sob your heart out, sing,
While torrential slush that roars
Burns in the blackness of the spring.

Go hire a buggy. For six grivnas,
Race through the noise of bells and wheels
To where the ink and all you grieving
Are muffled when the rain shower falls.

To where, like pears burnt black as charcoal,
A myriad rooks, plucked from the trees,
Fall down into the puddles, hurl
Dry sadness deep into the eyes.

Below, the wet black earth shows through,
With sudden cries the wind is pitted,
The more haphazard, the more true
The poetry that sobs its heart out.


***

Февраль. Достать чернил и плакать!
Писать о феврале навзрыд,
Пока грохочащая слякоть
Весною черною горит.

Достать пролетку. За шесть гривен
Чрез благовест, чрез клик колес
Перенестись туда, где ливень
Еще шумней чернил и слез.

Где, как обугленные груши,
С деревьев тысячи грачей
Сорвутся в лужи и обрушат
Сухую грусть на дно очей.

Под ней проталины чернеют,
И ветер криками изрыт,
И чем случайней, тем вернее
Слагаются стихи навзрыд.


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