My Translation of Marina Tsvetaeva’s Cycle “Girlfriend” – Part 7

Two aristocratic women in silk white dresses are holding hands in the garden. They are smiling tenderly.
Illustration: The elegant Reventlow sisters by Heinrich August Georg Schiøtt (1840s)
My Translation: 
Her neck is lifted—young and free,
Like spring in reverie.
Who knows her name—who knows her age,
Who—home, who—century?

There is no light on these curved lips— 
Capricious and gentle—  
Yet I am blinded and eclipsed
By her Beethoven's temple.

It makes me tender—clear and lit,
Her face, a melted oval,
Her hand, in which a whip would fit,
And—in the silver—opal.

A violin bow could serve her hand,
But into silks it went,
How unrepeatable—this hand,
Unique, beloved hand.

(January 10, 1915)

 Tsvetaeva's Original:
Свободно шея поднята,
Как молодой побег.
Кто скажет имя, кто — лета,
Кто — край её, кто — век?

Извилина неярких губ
Капризна и слаба,
Но ослепителен уступ
Бетховенского лба.

До умилительности чист
Истаявший овал.
Рука, к которой шёл бы хлыст,
И — в серебре — опал.

Рука, достойная смычка,
Ушедшая в шелка,
Неповторимая рука,
Прекрасная рука.

(10 января 1915)

8 thoughts on “My Translation of Marina Tsvetaeva’s Cycle “Girlfriend” – Part 7

  1. Lovely poem, so tender and gentle. Lovely picture, too. How cherished those two women must have
    been! I’m sure they would have loved your poem. Hope you are keeping safe and well, Veronica.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Gwen, thank you so much for your heartfelt comment. You cannot imagine how much your kind words mean to me. You are right; Marina and Sophia shared a profound love for each other. It would be the greatest gift if even one of them could read my poem, and imagining this brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for your continuing support of my writing craft, dearest Gwen! I hope you are well, too. ♥️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Veronica, I’ve just discovered the glory of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poetry, and even at this early stage have come to love her. With your comprehension of Russian, with all its sophistication, and the deep Russian cultural context Tsvetaeva’s poetry presupposes, no words can suffice fully to express my gratitude to you for the grace you bestow on our lives with your lovely translations of the poems in her “Girlfriend” cycle! God bless you, dear one!
    Though she left us almost 80 years ago, I still remember her fondly and thankfully to God, as one of His/Her dearest gifts to us.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear William, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your praise of my translations. This means the world to me. Marina is one of my most cherished poets!

      If you have any questions about her, please do not hesitate to ask. I am glad my work helped you discover the beauty of her writing. ☺️

      With gratitude,


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