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

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

  1. Thank you for translating this tempetuous poem, Veronica,

    “For all this sudden trembling – and confusion –
    Is this a dream? -“.

    For some reason, the above lines remind me of the American author and poet Edgar Alan Poe and, in particular his poem “A Dream within a Dream”.

    Kevin

    Like

    1. I’m profoundly grateful for your generous appreciation, Michael. It is an utter pleasure to meet a fellow lover of Marina’s exquisite poetry! The “Girlfriend” cycle had been restricted for a long time even in Russia, so few translations have been made, which is why I decided to work on it. I can assure you, the original is far more striking than my interpretation, and it remains my absolute favourite out of Tsvetaeva’s works. Your comment has inspired me to continue the translations – there are 17 in this cycle. Here’s an interesting fact: this poetry collection was initially titled “A Mistake,” but Tsvetaeva changed it to “Girlfriend” shortly before taking her own life in 1941.

      Liked by 1 person

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