Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975 

Anthology of Russian Minimalist and Miniature Poems;
Part I, The Silver Age
Translated by Alex Cigale.

Page 2

Fyodor Tyutchev Ivan Turgenev Afanasy Fet Vladimir Solovyov Innokenty Annensky  Fyodor Sologub

Valery Bryusov  Sasha Chorny  Andrey Bely  David Burlyuk  Vasily Kamensky  Velimir Khlebnikov

Aleksei Kruchenykh Vladislav Khodasevich  Igor Severyanin  Anna Akhmatova  Vasilisk Gnedov 

Boris Pasternak  Osip Mandelstam  Mikhail Zenkevich  Marina Tsvetayeva  Yevgeny Kropivnitsky 

Vladimir Mayakovsky  Anatoly Mariengof  Nikolai Oleinikov  Daniil Kharms  Semeon Kirsanov Jan Satunovsky

Alexander Blok Nikolay Nekrasov Vyacheslav Ivanov Sergey Gorodetsky Zinaida Gippius Sophia Parnok
Nikolay Aseyev Georgy Ivanov Gavriil Derzhavin Nikolay Karamzin Alexander Pushkin Mikhail Lermontov






VALERY BRYUSOV (1873-1924)

I dreamed I was deathly-exhausted,
Almost a denizen of the earth-grave,
Unhearing as my end was nearing.

A former friend approached my bed.
Mumbling curses was what he said
Having pounded me on my head.



Clear-etched lines of mountains;
The pale-untrustworthy sea…
My excited vision un-curtained,
Drowns in the shoreless leas.

In my hidden hopes created
The natural world is ideal,
And all is ashes that is real:
The water, the steppe, the cliffs.

June 1896, Oreanda



Do not cry and do not think:
The past – there’s no such thing!
With a friendly greeting
The light of day breaks in.

Falling asleep you ended,
And in waking resurrect.
Look at the sky extended
Without a thought or care.

Eternity – a wish fulfilled,
All that is bitter dead.
Stride tirelessly forward,
Ahead, ahead, ahead.

September 9, 1896



The measured sound of wheels,
The field, the row of birches,
And many muddled feelings;
Race past, race past, race past.

The measured noise and hum,
The sky’s impending horizon,
And many muddled thoughts;
Further!  Farther!  Distant!

April 12, 1896

Links To Russian Originals.




SASHA CHORNY (1880-1932)

Two Wishes


To live on an exposed peak,
To write uncomplicated sonnets....
Being sustained by the peasants
With bread, wine, and cutlets.


To burn my ships, those behind and ahead,
To lie down, looking at nothing, in bed.
Drift into dreamless sleep and, for ken's sake,
Some one hundred years or so hence, awake.



Two Counterarguments

One group clamors: “What is form?  Child's play!
When one pours runny manure into crystal –
Does not the crystal become less desirable?”

The others contradict: “Simple-minded fools!
Even the best wine served in cracked vessels
Respectable people won't deign to consume.”

This argument can't be settled.  Regrettable!
Since it's possible to pour... wine into crystal.



The Birth of Futurism

An artist, while wearing his canvas pants,
had once upon a time sat on his palette and,
jumping up, ran around huffing and puffing:
“Where's the turpentine? I'll quickly wipe them!”

But catching a closer glimpse of the rainbow
he, in a creative trance of intuitive flow,
cut out a square from the spotted canvas
and organized a show: “The Skin of an Ass.”


Links To Russian Originals.




ANDREI BELY (1880-1934)

Bely by Bakst

            To S. L. Kobilinsky


The windows steamed up.
In the yard the moon hangs.
And you stand aimlessly
before the window.

The wind dies down arguing
with the row of gray birches.
There has been much sorrow...
There have been many tears...

Before you arises involuntarily
the row of abandoned years.
The heart is pained; it hurts.
I am all alone.

December 1900



Water (Tanka)


And water? A moment – clear...
A moment – circles, mottled, fish...
Just so thought!  Here she is...
But she is – the depths,
Entered with trepidation.

June 1916



Life (Tanka)


Above the grass little moth –
A flower, self-propelled flower....
Just so I: into wind – death –
above me – a stem –
I fly by as a moth.

June 1916


The Winged Soul

Your eyes' deep bluishness
odored into my soul like the wind :
My soul with you has endawned....
Thus with a suspended twitter
across into the blue she fluttered.

May 1918, Moscow


Links To Russian Originals.




DAVID BURLYUK (1882-1967)

Festive Blue


A green spirit flashed boldly like a stone
Into the lake's depth where mirrors dreamt.
Look now how brightly flared the flame
Where previously nestled the dim dark.
So heartless you in me awakened sorrow
Toward the water ghosts you'd demolished.
In that flash you wished to resist absence
Above the abyss that is a festive blue.




Calling us with his pus-filled glance
With the froth of hoarse yellow lips
With his lathe ragged and crooked
Arms clutching a sieve-like cube.

Unfamiliar to you are modest workdays
Bonds and sweet shackles of marriage
Unarrouseable merciless and ruthless
Amidst the impediments of quicksand.



Old woman moon begs a handout
from the feeding stars, from field fires,
the moon too blind to read their names
without the help of the sooty lamps.

The moon, like a flea crawls the sky's undercoat.
She is a spider and we are caught in her net.
The moon – a sailor who with his dirty boiler
is incapable of lighting the dugs of the sick vales.




The sounds of A are wide and spacious,
The sounds of E are haughty and agile,
The sounds of U are like an empty pipe,
The sounds of O like a hump curvaceous,
The sounds of Ye are of splashing shallows,
The family of vowels I've laughingly reviewed.


Links To Russian Originals.





An Aviator's Call

Cacophony of souls
A motor symphony
It is I – it is I –
And pilot-aviator
Vasily Kamensky
with an elastic propeller
whisked up into the sky
and left as a visiting card
for droopy coquette-death
feeling sorry for her
a hand-sewn tango cloak
and stockings
with pantaloons.




My Prayer

Dear God:
Mercy on me
and forgive.
I have flown an airplane
and now am in a ditch.
I want to grow
as poison ivy.




from Tango with Cows

Life is shorter than a sparrow's squeal
a dog as though swimming there on
           an ice floe of a spring river
with mirth made of tin we look
                                   upon fate
well then GO to the DEVIL
I want to dance alone
a TANGO with CoWs and
to span with bridges the
tears of the bulls' jealousy and
tears of a scarlet YOUNG GIRL


Links To Russian Originals.






Oh Dostoyevskyan running clouds!
Oh midday’s fiery Pushkin-notes!
La nuit appears, just like Tyutchev,
Infinite, with other-worldly over-filled.




People!  Let’s drown enmity in sun’s light!
They walk in raincoats of silent stars – I wait –
Brave intentions’ children,
Brave reasons’ sons.




So pleasant to see
a little out-of-breath mermaid
who’d crawled from the forest
diligently erasing
with the dough of white bread
the law of universal attraction!

Early 1922



There is that smell of honey-clover flowers
Among the forget-me-nots
In which I am
My distracted strict intelligence
The square root of negative one
Melts the division’s dots
Relating that which was
Toward what will be.
At stake.

Early 1922



The sun's rays in the dark eye
of an ox
and on the wing of a blue fly,
like a wedding's line dance,
that streaked past above him.

Spring 1922

Links To Russian Originals.




To Next Section:  Aleksei Kruchenykh Vladislav Khodasevich  Igor Severyanin  Anna Akhmatova  Vasilisk Gnedov 

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