Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975 

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

Page 4

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  Nicolai 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



BORIS PASTERNAK (1890-1960)Pasternak    


Not like other people, not every week,
Not all the time, in a century but twice,
I prayed to you: please intelligibly
Reiterate the words of creation.

Unbearable to you are the admixtures
Of intimacies and people's slavishness.
How could you possibly make me happy?
With what would you consume the earth's salt?






Spring, coming in from street, where poplars
stand amazed, the distance is scared, the houses
afraid to fall down, the air blue, like a sack
of clothes carried by a patient leaving a hospital.

Where the evening is empty, an interrupted tale,
left abandoned by a star without continuation
to the incomprehension of a thousand noisy eyes
of the homeless and those bereft of expression.






With blinding brilliance
The evening dawns at seven.
From streets toward awnings
Darkness marches apace.
People – they are manikins;
Only lust and sadness lead
Them across the universe
Feeling their way by touch.
The heart under the palm
Betrays with its shuddering
Tension of chase and escape,
Glimmers of fright and flight.
Feelings take to liberty
And freedom with ill-ease,
Tearing just like a horse
At the bit of its mouthpiece.


Links To Russian Originals.   Links to Pasternak audio/video .






The sound, cautiously subdued,
of a fruit having come unglued
from a tree among unquiet hum
of the deepest silence of wood.



Suddenly, from a half-dim hall,
you slid out, hidden by a shawl –
we were no trouble to a soul,
we didn't wake the drowsy help.



There is nothing that needs to be said,
There is nothing that has to be taught,
So full of sorrow and so it is good,
The dark and intimate animal soul.

It has no need to teach anything,
It cannot speak or quibble at all
And in the form of a young dolphin
It swims on the world's gray squalls.

                   December 1909, Heidelberg



The humid dusk covers up lies,
The tightness in a breathing chest...
It may be that I value the most
A wire-thin cross and secret ways.



People here fear the exertion of labor
Like a six-winged and thundering bull.
As though swollen with venomous blood
The roses that presage winter bloom...

                                            October 1930



Primus stove

Black night, barrack's blight,
The fattest fleas....



Links on Mandelstam, including his book of children's verse, "PRIMUS", 1925.

Links To Russian Originals of Mandelstam's Poems.




All that is past appears to us a dream,
All future – a distant wish unfulfilled,
In the present moment only do we live
An immediate life that is fully real.

The uninterrupted moment's lightning flash
into the here and now is what makes us as
indestructible as melded metal seams –
of our wished-for futures, our past dreams.

                                            20 December 1940



How many years now I've silently desired
to trade in my bookcase for a simple shelf
and rebind my poetry books in new covers.
Oh, Muse, forgive a poet's selfish dreams.
Money pans, flashes, and is gone in a blink.
A poet's dreams may never be fulfilled.

                                            10 January 1941


Poet, why do you swill stale wine,
then pour the dregs in new bottles?
All of it was said before, of old,
and rhyme will not refresh a line.

What you pour forth is an old game,
plagiary will not spread your name:
“The Song of Songs” said all of love
and the Ecclesiast had death foretold.

                                27 January 1941


The poet, poor wretch, puts on airs,
but nothing comes out on paper.
Let him bluster and flaunt some more –
perhaps the poem will write itself.

                                      January 1941


With all the reports from the front I had read,
I woke at night drenched in sweat and in dread:
I dreamt I had lost my ration card for bread.

                                            3 April 1942


Links To Russian Originals.





A kiss on the forehead – erases worry.
I kiss your forehead.

A kiss on the eyes – removes insomnia.
I kiss you on the eyes.

A kiss on the lips – is water to drink.
I kiss your lips.

A kiss on the forehead – erases memory.
I kiss your forehead.

                                            June 5, 1917


One half of my window dissolved.
One half of my soul materialized.
Come, let us open the other half.
That other half of the window!

                                 May 1920



The whole sea – requires the sky entirely.
The whole heart – requires all of God.

                                April 27, 1920


He’s gone – can’t eat:
No taste – in bread.
All’s chalk,
For which I will not reach.

… My bread he was,
And snow also.
The snow’s not white,
And bread not right.

            Jan. 23, 1940



It’s time to shed my amber,
It’s time to trade in words,
It’s time to dim the light
Above my door….

                              February 1941


Links To Russian Originals.




To write from nature
is lovely and refreshing.
The chickens stroll –
and all is swell.

The bushes as well,
for them I'm grateful.
Everything for the poet,
and with the poet, a fête.




December's here but there's no snow
And mud and dirt go on and on
And everybody's feet slide apart.
December's come, the snow has not.
And everyone gets irritated
And curses that there is no snow
And snow awaits and waits and waits.
When will it snow?  But there is none.
The mud and dirt go on and on.




I like it very much when
the weather is wet and warm,
that rotten leaf smell. When
the distance is lit up by a haze
so sorrowful and silent. When
everything moves slowly.  And when
the fog is everywhere and water also.




I walk this world's hurly-burly
Toward some mysterious end
Above me the purple-clad stars
Strewn, spun by someone overhead.

Earthly comfort, dull and unpleasant.
Under my window the howls of dogs.
How could I possibly be connected
To this world's great mystery?



Links To Russian Originals.


To Page 5 : Vladimir Mayakovsky  Anatoly Mariengof  Nikolai Oleinikov  Daniil Kharms  Semeon Kirsanov Jan Satunovsky


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