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

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My Translation of Marina Tsvetaeva’s Cycle “Girlfriend” – Part 4

Illustration: Devotion: the Two Girlfriends, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1895
You were too lazy to get dressed,
Too lazy to rise from the armchair.
- Although Your next day could be blessed
With my pure gaiety and laughter.

You were embarrassed most of all
To walk at night amid the snowfall.
- Although Your hours could be bold
With my excitement - jolly, youthful.

My darling, You have meant no harm,
So irreversibly benign.
- You were all innocence and charm,
I was the youth that passed You by.

October 25, 1914

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

Illustration: “The Window Seat” by Robert Burns, 1905-1906.
Picture Editing: Pascale Clerie
I’ve spent all day beside the window,
The snow was melting everywhere.
My mind was sober, bosom - tender,
Again I live without care.

I don’t know why. It must be languor,
The mere exhaustion of the soul,
I simply couldn’t bear to handle
My pencil - riotous and bold.

And so I stood - the foggy valance -
Concealed both evil and caress,
My finger gently broke the silence
By tapping on the fragile glass.

My spirit’s neither worse, nor better
Than any stranger - whom I’ve met, -
Than puddles of pearlescent glitter,
The mirrored sky above my head,

Than bird in flight, so free and dauntless,
Than racing dog with fluffy ears,
And even the impoverished songstress
No longer can bring me to tears.

The charming art of sweet oblivion
I’ve memorized from the start.
Today a feeling worth a million
Was slowly melting in my heart.

October 24, 1914

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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

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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

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