My Translation of Marina Tsvetaeva’s Cycle “Girlfriend” – Part 2

Illustration: Ladies and a Cat, Louis Icart, 1923
Under the plush plaid's tender softness
I lie, remembering last night.
Was it a dream? - Who broke the fortress? -
Who lost the fight?

Again comes bitter rumination,
And suffering hits me anew.
Words can't define this revelation -
Do I love you?

Who was the hunter? - Who - the victim? 
The devil has reversed it all!
What purring, wise Siberian kitten
May now recall?

In that self-willed and fervent duel,
Who held the shield, and who - the sword?
Whose heartbeat - Yours or mine - was cruel,
And raced, and soared?

What - after all - was our story?
What do I long for and regret?
Still wondering: was this my glory?
Or my death-bed?

October 23, 1914

Click to see the original poem

My Translation of Marina Tsvetaeva’s Cycle “Girlfriend” – Part 1

A photograph of Sophia Parnok, to whom Marina Tsvetaeva dedicated this cycle of poems.
Aren’t you happy? No! You would hardly tell me!
So - let it be!
You’ve kissed too many, and you’ve loved too many,
In misery.

All of the tragic heroines of Shakespeare
I see in You,
Although nobody saved my lady - young, drear -
Out of the blue!

You are exhausted by repeating blindly
The words of love!
The ring, cast-iron, on your hand - frail, whitely, -
Reveals enough!

I love You. - Deadly sins, like clouds of thunder, -
Above you rest -
For all of Your causticity and candour,
You are the best,

For all the differences left between us -
In shades of gloom,
For Your seductiveness, inspired by Venus,
And stormy doom.

To You, my highbrow, otherworldly demon,
I’ll say goodbye,
For You, the most remarkable of women, -
Will surely die!

For all this sudden trembling - and confusion -
Is this a dream? -
For the ironic, wonderful conclusion -
That you’re not “him.”

October 16, 1914

Click to see the original poem