Are you interested in LGBTQIA+ literature? Do you want to learn more about the less-known sapphic authors from different eras and corners of the world? Then, this podcast is perfect for you! Hosted by Veronika Sizova, the first episode of “Sapphic Literature” covers the life and work of Marina Tsvetaeva, an early-twentieth-century Russian poet. This episode also presents the reading of the first poem from her cycle, “Girlfriend,” dedicated to Sophia Parnok, and elaborates on the historical context of this publication, as well as the lyrical imagery that Tsvetaeva used in the poem. The listeners are welcome to participate in the poll and choose the author for the next episode!
When I let go of your hand many moons ago, deep down, I knew I would never hold it again. I still see your ghost, now and then, hovering over the cliffs and mingling with the mist between the mountains… At sunset, your shadow haunts the valley where we used to dream. We made up stories; we gathered berries and laughed; we conjured up entire lives, intertwining our thoughts like grapevines and drinking their mellow nectar until we were intoxicated with passion.
Azure hills near Moscow linger,
Tar and dust — in the lukewarm air.
I sleep all day, all day I laugh — let's say
I am recovering from winter.
I am walking home in utter silence:
For unwritten poems — no remorse!
I prefer, to every single verse,
The rattling wheels, the smell of fried almonds.
When the mind is beautifully empty,
Always blame the heart — it is too full!
As though little waves, my days unfurl;
From the bridge, I watch them fall aplenty.
Someone's gazes are too soft and tender
In the tenderness of lightly heated air...
I am falling under summer's spell,
Barely recovered from winter.
(March 13, 1915)
Midnight—over the coffee grounds
She cries, looking toward the East.
Her mouth is innocent and unbound,
Half—a flower, and half—a beast.
Soon a crescent—young and slender—
Shall replace the scarlet dawn
All my combs I will surrender,
All my rings - to you alone!
Waxing moon between the branches
Did not shelter anyone.
I will give you all my bracelets,
All my chains - to you alone!
As though under a heavy mane
Your luminous pupils shine!
Are your comrades jealous in vain? -
The full-blooded horses stay light!
(December 6, 1914)
Her neck is lifted—young and free,
Like spring in reverie.
Who knows her name—who knows her age,
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)
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…
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
This poem is dedicated to the film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” The exquisite digital painting for the sonnet was created by my dearest friend, a talented young artist Vasilisa Semiletova. You can behold her masterpieces here: https://vk.com/elopeople, and don’t hesitate to follow her Instagram!
I paint my dear love in subtle tones
Upon the canvas, luminous and warm.
Before my eyes - stripped to the bare bones -
Her soul ignites, as though about to burn…
"If you observe me, who do I look at?" -
Her question sets my quietude aflame.
"Remember us, beloved, don't regret:
Your portrait glows within a golden frame!"
The years pass: my heart still skips a beat
Whenever it recalls the day she smiled;
I turned around, confessing my defeat,
Forever from the lover's arms exiled.
Alas, her longing gaze did not meet mine,
Enraptured, when I saw her one last time.
Это стихотворение посвящено фильму “Портрет Девушки в Огне”. Изысканную цифровую иллюстрацию для сонета создала моя дорогая подруга, талантливая юная художница Василиса Семилетова. Вы можете увидеть её шедевры здесь: https://vk.com/elopeople, и не стесняйтесь следить за её Instagram!
Любимую пишу я краской нежной
На тёплом и сияющем холсте.
Передо мной - до кости белоснежной
Обнажена душа в живом огне…
"Вы видите меня - кого я вижу?" -
Воспламеняет тишину вопрос.
"Воспоминанья сожалений выше:
Портрет в уборе золотом готов!"
Проходят годы - сердце замирает,
Её улыбку вспомнив невзначай;
Я обернулась, словно признавая,
Что навсегда мы говорим "Прощай!"
Увы, не встретив взгляд желанных глаз,
Я видела её в последний раз.