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Reviews, essays, and translations

Entries in Bely (3)

Saturday
Dec032016

Bely, "Меланхолия"

A work ("Melancholy") by this Russian poet.  You can read the original here.

An empty bistro by first glow,                                      
Makes whispers and soft organs mate.                     
Smooth leather mats that fairies know,                                      
Show lackeys rumbling with their plates                     

Between the cabinets. Like shade                         
I wander through the smoky webs.              
Soon golden day will launch its raid                       
On window panes as dreamtime ebbs,                      

And cut off cinder in its fist,                 
Aflame in mirrors, diamond-bright...             
Gas lanterns fill with fiery mist                
And pierce each window with warm light.                           

Above the city and the streets,                       
Black cinder clouds from earth-mounts rise.
Beyond our ken, our senses meet                        
Unanswered arias' demise.                         

I lived and died in yearning pure,                      
My tears unseen upon my face.                           
The ceiling waxed in light demure                        
As garlands of ethereal lace                                     

Stretched past our eyes.  And for a time  
All seemed burned hot by tawny light.           
By mirror's glare my double rhymed;           
My silhouette with endless night.                 

He nears, and nods to me alone;                                 
In torture I cannot escape;                          
Then breaches depths of mirrored gloam                  
His hands aflail at life's mad cape.

Wednesday
Aug292012

Bely, "Воспоминание"

A work ("Recollection") by this Russian man of letters.  You can read the original here.

December snowdrifts cloak our streets,
And you and your words I recall; 
Amidst the snowy silver's fall,  
Your shoulders shake like shameful sheets.

In whitest lace of prim Marseilles,
The doorman's gaze you did divert;
In sunken sofas like squatting birds, 
Admiring suitors marked your way. 

The butler brings us spice-strewn tea;
The piano wails in someone's arms;
But you just chanced to look at me,
In melancholy and alarm.  

And gently all of you arose,
As inspiration and day's dreams;
Against my yearnings all this seems
Ineffable, and sadness grows.  

Between us a pure bond was made  
To Haydn's sweetest melodies; 
But then your husband touched your knees,
As hallway drafts his whiskers grazed.

To my poor soul alone there howls,
As I this snowy scene reface, 
The recollection of those hours, 
And how they passed without a trace.

Sunday
Jun082008

Bely, "Ночь"

A poem ("Night") from one of Russia's greatest prose writers, most famous for this unparalleled novel. You can read the original here.

As spring’s warmth passed, so too the wicked heat;
In vain I sought plain peace, elusive still.
And in a roaring wave the house went shrill
To Hayden’s heights flew forth one elite.

And arrogant he went, in hidden shame.
Contemned by fate, he blew above the dim
And wilted grass, his sighs now long and grim,
And wind beat pale the shacks through darkened panes.

What silence! What simplicity reigns whole!
What miserly and fireless sunrises bend!
So too will you pass on, o friend, poor friend,
Why then should seas of storms still flog our soul?

Pour down, o rain, in mutiny severe!
So sweet cascade the sighs of sumptuous trees.
And night’s effacing look talks in the breeze,
With suffering unheard and wind unnear.