Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Six Poems of ARSENIJ TARKOVSKY

IGNATYEVO FOREST

The last leaves' embers in total immolation
Rise into the sky; this whole forest
Seethes with irritation, just as we did
That last year we lived together.

The path you take 's reflected in our tear-filled eyes,
As bushes are reflected in the murky flood-lands.
Don't be difficult, don't touch, don't threaten,
Don't offend the forest silence by the Volga.

You can hear the old life breathing:
Clumps of mushrooms growing in damp grass -
Though gnawed to the very core by slugs,
They still inflame the skin.

All our past is like a threat -
Look, I'm coming, watch, I'll kill you!
The sky shivers and holds a maple, like a rose, -
May it burn still stronger - right into your eyes.

'I waited for you yesterday since morning'

I waited for you yesterday since morning,
They guessed you wouldn't come,
Do you remember the weather? Like a holiday!
I went out without a coat.

Today came, and they fixed for us
A somehow specially dismal day,
It was very late, and it was raining,
The drops cascading down the chilly branches.

No word of comfort, tears undried...

* * *

FIRST MEETINGS

We celebrated every moment
Of our meetings as epiphanies,
Just we two in all the world.
Bolder, lighter than a bird's wing,
You hurtled like vertigo
Down the stairs, leading
Through moist lilac to your realm
Beyond the mirror.

When night fell, grace was given me,
The sanctuary gates were opened,
Shining in the darkness
Nakedness bowed slowly;
Waking up, I said:
'God bless you!', knowing it
To be daring: you slept,
The lilac leaned towards you from the table
To touch your eyelids with its universal blue,
Those eyelids brushed with blue
Were peaceful, and your hand was warm.

And in the crystal I saw pulsing rivers,
Smoke-wreathed hills, and glimmering seas;
Holding in your palm that crystal sphere,
You slumbered on the throne,
And - God be praised! - you belonged to me.
Awaking, you transformed
The humdrum dictionary of humans
Till speech was full and running over
With resounding strength, and the word you
Revealed its new meaning: it meant king.
Everything in the world was different,
Even the simplest things - the jug, the basin -
When stratified and solid water
Stood between us, like a guard.

We were led to who knows where.
Before us opened up, in mirage,
Towns constructed out of wonder,
Mint leaves spread themselves beneath our feet,
Birds came on the journey with us,
Fish leapt in greeting from the river,
And the sky unfurled above...

While behind us all the time went fate,
A madman brandishing a razor.

* * *

LIFE, LIFE

I don't believe in omens or fear
Forebodings. I flee from neither slander
Nor from poison. Death does not exist.
Everyone's immortal. Everything is too.
No point in fearing death at seventeen,
Or seventy. There's only here and now, and light;
Neither death, nor darkness, exists.
We're all already on the seashore;
I'm one of those who'll be hauling in the nets
When a shoal of immortality swims by.

II

If you live in a house - the house will not fall.
I'll summon any of the centuries,
Then enter one and build a house in it.
That's why your children and your wives
Sit with me at one table, -
The same for ancestor and grandson:
The future is being accomplished now,
If I raise my hand a little,
All five beams of light will stay with you.
Each day I used my collar bones
For shoring up the past, as though with timber,
I measured time with geodetic chains
And marched across it, as though it were the Urals.

III

I tailored the age to fit me.
We walked to the south, raising dust above the steppe;
The tall weeds fumed; the grasshopper danced,
Touching its antenna to the horse-shoes - and it prophesied,
Threatening me with destruction, like a monk.
I strapped my fate to the saddle;
And even now, in these coming times,
I stand up in the stirrups like a child.

I'm satisfied with deathlessness,
For my blood to flow from age to age.
Yet for a corner whose warmth I could rely on
I'd willingly have given all my life,
Whenever her flying needle
Tugged me, like a thread, around the globe.

'And this I dreamt, and this I dream'

And this I dreamt, and this I dream,
And some time this I will dream again,
And all will be repeated, all be re-embodied,
You will dream everything I have seen in dream.

To one side from ourselves, to one side from the world
Wave follows wave to break on the shore,
On each wave is a star, a person, a bird,
Dreams, reality, death - on wave after wave.

No need for a date: I was, I am, and I will be,
Life is a wonder of wonders, and to wonder
I dedicate myself, on my knees, like an orphan,
Alone - among mirrors - fenced in by reflections:
Cities and seas, iridescent, intensified.
A mother in tears takes a child on her lap.

* * *

STEPPE

Earth swallows herself
And, knocking her head against the sky,
Patches the gaps in her memory
With humankind and grass.

Grass hides under the horse-shoes,
Soul in an ivory box;
Only word beneath the moon
Looms in the steppe

Which sleeps like a corpse.
Boulders on burial mounds -
Tsars playing at watchmen -
Drunk stupid on moonlight.

Word is the last to die.
When the drill of water pushes up
Through the subsoil's tough integument,
Sky will stir

And burdock's eyelash sigh,
Grasshopper's saddle flash,
Bird of the steppe comb,
Sleepy, its rainbow wing.

Then up to his shoulders in blue-grey milk
See Adam enter the steppe from paradise,
Restoring both to bird and stone
The gift of intelligent speech;

He recreated while they slept
Their palpitating names,
And now he breathes delirium of consciousness,
Loving, like soul, into grass.


* * *

EARTHLY


If I'd been destined at birth
To lie in the lap of the gods,
I'd have been reared by a heavenly wet-nurse
On the holy milk of the clouds.

I'd be god of a stream or a garden,
Keeping watch over graves or the corn, -
But no - I'm a man, I don't need immortality:
A heavenly fate would be awful.

I'm glad no one stitched my lips in a smile,
Remote from earth's bile and salt.
So off you go, violin of Olympus,
I can do without your song.

* * *

I DREAMED THIS DREAM AND I STILL DREAM OF IT


I dreamed this dream and I still dream of it
and I will dream of it sometime again.
Everything repeats itself and everything will be reincarnated,
and my dreams will be your dreams.

There, to one side of us, to one side of the world
wave after wave breaks on the shore:
there's a star on the wave, and a man, and a bird,
reality and dreams and death - wave after wave.

Dates are irrelevant. I was, I am, I will be.
Life is a miracle of miracles, and I kneel
before the miracle alone like an orphan,

alone in the mirrors, enclosed in reflections,
seas and towns, shining brightly through the smoke.

A mother cries and takes her baby on her knee.

1 comment:

c n s said...

Thank you. Thank you for posting these great words.