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

My Translation of Marina Tsvetaeva’s Cycle “Girlfriend” – Part 6

Two women embracing in a snowstorm, a painting by Édouard Bisson called "Winter."
Illustration: ‘Winter’ by Édouard Bisson (French, 1856-1939)
My Translation: 
***
How merrily the snowflakes brightened
 Your—grey, my—sable fur,
 How at the Christmas fair excited
 We looked for ribbons—best of all.

 How rosy-pink and very savoury
 I ate too many waffles—six!
 How every ginger horse delighted me—
 In honour of Your noble deeds.

 How vendors traded garments—full like sails—
 They sold the cheapest shreds and swore,
 How at the Moscow ladies, young and strange,
 The country women gaped in awe.

 How in the evening, when the crowds had left,
 We entered the cathedral, bored,
 How on the Virgin Mary's face bereft
 Your gaze fell like a solemn sword.

 How gloomy was her countenance and gentle
 The love in her exhausted eyes,
 Locked in the icon case with chubby angels
 From the Elizabethan times.

 How You let go of my hand tenderly
 And whispered: "Oh, I want her so!" 
 How you have placed a candle carefully 
 In candelabrum - yellow, tall…

 —O, with an opal ring mysterious
 Your Hand! —O, all my wretched plight—
 How I have promised You, my dearest,
 To steal this masterpiece tonight!

 How to the inn of this grand monastery
 —The rumbling bells and setting sun—
 Blessed like two baptized girls with honesty
 Like a battalion, we have come.

 How I have told You—to remain as beauteous—
 With age—and always spilled the salt,
 How for three times—You were so furious— 
 In cards, my King of Hearts had won.

 How You have squeezed my hair in sweet reproach,
 Caressing every single curl— 
 How cold was Your enamel flower brooch
 Which made my lips tremble and burn.

 How I, against Your slender fingers.
 Have brushed my tired, sleepy head,
 How You have teased me like an infant,
 How You have loved me just like that…

(December 1914)
Continue reading “My Translation of Marina Tsvetaeva’s Cycle “Girlfriend” – Part 6”

My Translation of Marina Tsvetaeva’s Cycle “Girlfriend” – Part 5

Illustration: Lady Before the Mirror by John White Alexander
***
I want to ask the looking glass 
With dusty, mistful dreams, 
Which road - which country shall You pass, 
And where Your shelter gleams.

Here, I behold: the ship's tall mast,
And You - on deck alone...
You - in the train's steam... Fields at dusk
Are gloomy and forlorn...

The dusky meadows bathe in dew,
Above - the ravens soar...
To the four winds I scatter You
And bless Your soul!

May 3, 1915

Click to see the original poem

Ode to Saint Petersburg

Snowy landscape with a statue of Peter the Great, the first Russian Emperor, covered by snow.
My photo of St. Isaac Cathedral and The Bronze Horseman (Peter the Great’s Statue), 2017.
The Spire of the Admiralty Building with an angel on top is visible, while the building itself is blocked by the snow-coated trees.
My photo of The Admiralty, 2017
The facade of the Winter Palace, framed by icy branches of trees.
My photo of the Winter Palace, 2017
Roses blooming in the Peterhof Gardens, surrounded by greenery.
My photo of The Peterhof Palace Gardens, 2020
Saint Petersburg - the city of the Dead,
Where dreaming spirits haunt the mist-cloaked streets.
A diadem of rubies crowns your head,
And silver armour lines your mighty fleet.

Let myriads of angels guard your spires
Against the pain and suffering of war:
Rejoice, the bygone northernmost empire,
Built on deception, cruelty, and gore!

The Winter Palace flaunts its azure gown -
A ballerina on the frozen lake,
Whose beauty flares, as if about to drown
Beneath the burden of her last mistake.

May a luxuriant, wild garden grow
Where once was land of misery and snow.

The Star Festival

This is a 1927 painting by Edwin Blashfield. It is an allegory of spring in which a female nude representing spring stands on a crescent moon, with an angel watching behind her. She is scattering stars throughout the cloudy sky.
Spring Scattering Stars by Edwin Blashfield
This painting depicts a group of fairies from a Shakespearean tale dancing in the forest at night.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Gustave Doré
This artwork is an allegory of winter. It portrays two women in light semi-transparent garments. The younger woman seems to have fallen asleep on her friend's shoulder.
Winter by Wilhelm Kray
This painting depicts a nude woman falling through space, like a shooting star.Her body radiates light, and there is a string of pearls around her wrist.
Falling Star by Witold Pruszkowski
My distant angel,
Only you can decipher
This secret message.

Deep in the shadows
Where summer turns to autumn
Once a year, we meet.

Two star-crossed lovers
Separated by darkness,
United by light.

The sky will show you
Our celestial counterparts:
Vega and Altair.

Song of the Raven

The artwork portrays a young woman sitting on the grass with a crow perched on her hand. Both of them look at the crescent shining brightly in the night sky.
Illustration: The Moon Asked The Crow by Christian Schloe
We are spending more time apart than together
Playing silent games…

Are we lovers or ghosts, lighter than feathers,
Leaving nebulous stains?

Let my longing be nectar to your amorous venom,
Which leads me astray -

Our memories echo a murderous raven
Looking for prey.

Tenderness has become a torturous weapon
In your loving hands,

And I swallow my words like the earth swallows Heaven
Each time it rains…

Ceci n’est pas une Rose

This painting features a rose blooming alone on the edge of a cliff surrounded by the sea; it is dawn, and there are beautiful clouds in the sky blending with the horizon.
L’utopie (Utopia) by René Magritte
This surrealistic painting captures a gigantic red rose, occupying an entire room.
Le tombeau des lutteurs (The tomb of the wrestlers) by René Magritte
This surreal image portrays the ocean ic beach at sunset. Instead of the sun, there is a large rose, which seems to float on the waves.
L’invitation au voyage (The Invitation to Travel) by René Magritte
A portrait of a woman gazing longingly at a rose in her long golden hair. There are impressionistic visions of the sea and the mountains in the background.
Le Roman Populaire (The Popular Novel) by René Magritte
If you were a rose,
You would hide in the dark
Until I discovered your delicate spark.

If you were a rose,
Every flower would fade,
Entranced by the perfume which you radiate.

If you were a rose,
Your soft, velvety skin
Would cover my eyes with the raptures unseen.

If you were a rose,
I would kiss your wild thorns,
Crimson with blood, as it lingers and burns.

If you were a rose,
You would bloom all year long,
Drinking my tears when I cry, all alone.

If you were a rose,
You would grow in my heart,
Entwining it gently, as you tear me apart.

My garden has blossomed 
With sorrow and loss.
Why didn't you tell me that you were a rose?

An Acrostic Sonnet to My Readers

This painting portrays a young woman standing by the sea in a light flowing dress. She is bending her head to observe a shiny pearl in her hand.
“The Sea Hath its Pearls” by William Henry Margetson
This impressionistic artwork depicts the back of the woman, with her head resting on her hand. She is looking at the summer scenery and the vast blue sky above her.
“Longing” by Heinrich Vogler
To all of you, entranced by subtle verse,
Here lies a gift concealed between the lines -
As though a scintillating pearl, enclosed
Naively by the effervescent rhymes.
Kindling above the fervent windswept waves,
Your gentle words transcend the leaden clouds!
Ornate, like scarlet flames, the heartfelt praise,
Unvanquished, burns away my puerile doubts.
So I remain a prisoner, alone
Ordained to dwell in the Siberian steppe -
May there be solace - when the warmth is gone,
Upon your eyes, rains softly my regret.
Creating threads of poetry at night,
How blessed I am to have your vibrant light!