Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975 

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

Page 5

Fedor 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





from “I”


On pavement stones
Of my trampled soul
Steps of madmen
Plait soles of harsh words.
Where the cities
Are hung
And in a cloud noose
Crooked turrets
Of towers
I walk
alone sobbing
that on the crossroads
are crucified the tsar's cops.




They Understand Nothing

I walked into a barbershop and calmly said:
“Be so kind as to sew on some ears.”
The smooth barber immediately turned pus-like
and his face stretched like a pear's,
and the words jumped up.
Curses flew from squawk to squawk
and someone's head hee-hawed,
jerking from the crowd like a weathered radish.




And would you be able to?

Right off I spattered the map of workdays,
flinging paint from a glass;
I illustrated on a plate of jellied meat
the angular jaws of the ocean.
On the scales of a tin fish
I deciphered the call of new lips.
And would you
be able to
play a nocturne
on the flute of the drainpipes?



  To audio/video links, including Mayakovsky's film, "Lady and the Tramp" (1918).




The night, like a tear, flowed out of an immense eye
and rolled down along the roofs upon the lashes.
Sorrow rose up like Lazarus
and raced in the streets to cry and blame everyone,
throwing herself around necks – and everyone flipped
and screamed: you're insane!
and with whoops of fear beat the eardrums
ringing like diamond cards.




A dark spot as though from a squashed cranberry.
Quiet please.  Don't slam the door.  Dear Sir...
Four very simple letters:
 – dead.




Fable, fairy tale, there once was,
once wasn't.
I don't know...
Tiltil and Mitil* –
We are searching for love: “There, there – look
On the tops of aspens and pines!”
But she, alas,
A long-long time ago flew off to the lakes
Of the distant sky.

* Child heroes of Maurice Maeterlinck's “The Blue Bird”



The riot's crimson finger pokes
Into the map
of both hemispheres:
“Here!  Here!  Here!”
Death gropes every hole
like a broom.
Hey there, you! Against the wall, all – prisoners.”
And the earth, like a butcher's apron
covered in human, as though in a bull's, blood.....
“Christ has risen!”



Links to Russian Originals.




Beetle, the Anti-Semite
An Illustrated Book for Children



A bird small in caliber
is called a Colibri.




He's dangling his feet about,
He's butting his horns around,
His wings abuzz with sound:

- Zhi-Zhi-Zhi-Zhi- Zhid!
The beetle is no friend of Yids.



The Beetle's Conversation with the Ladybug

   The woods have turned arid,
   we have nothing left to live on,
   a Hebraham under every tussock!

   Yessm....  The Jews have over-bred!



The Grasshopper's Autumn Complaint

   And the sun no longer warms,
   and the birds stopped singing.
   Nothing lives but the Israelites
   sitting in the trees on branches.



The Grasshopper's Winter Complaint

   Oh, their little Kikey women,
   Oh, those rotten scoundrels!
   Their slimy wives and daughters
   walk around in fancy fur coats.

   These fancy fur coats warm them.
   These fur coats give them comfort.
   And all those who aren't Jews
   Are dead meat; they go extinct.



The Beetle's Conversation with the Butterfly

   Butterfly, butterfly, where's your daddy?

   Our dear sainted father drowned.

    Butterfly, butterfly, where is your mother?

   Our beloved mother; the Jews ate her.



The Beetle's Death

The Beetle (in disillusionment)
   The swallow is their fellow,
   The canary a hairy Hymie,
   The ladybug is a Dybbuk,
   The termite a dirty Semite,
   The grackle a damn cracker!

(He dies.)



Links to Russian Originals.




DANIIL KHARMS (1905-1942)


Seated at a table, flighty thoughts,
Shoulders spread, inflated chest,
I pronounced empty speeches,
Still as a statue and just as loved.




In every church bell there is spite
In every red ribbon there is fire
In every young woman shivering
In every young man his own steed.




I love at times to look out the window
And to observe other people's concerns.
I love at times to look out the window
And through this leave behind my work.

For a long time I stare very intently
Into the face of a young Jewish girl
Seeking to decipher in her expressions
The regulations of womanly charms.




I thought of eagles for a long time
and understood such a whole lot:
the eagles soar above the clouds,
they fly and fly and touch no one.
They live on cliffs and on mountains
and are intimate with water sprites,
I thought a long time about eagles
but confused them, I think, with flies.

                              15 March 1939



The Blue Notebook, No. 10 (Redheaded Man)

   There lived a redheaded man who had no eyes and no ears.  He didn't even have hair so that he was called redheaded only as a figure of speech.
   He was unable to speak because he had no mouth. A nose, he didn't have either.
   He didn't have hands and he didn’t have legs. And he had no stomach, no back, no spine, and no innards to speak of.  He didn't have anything! So that it’s unclear who it is we're talking about. 
   In fact, we better change the subject now.

                                                   Jan. 7, 1937


Tumbling Babushkas (Excessive Curiosity)

   A babushka, out of an excess of curiosity, slipped and plunged out of a window and splattered herself.
   Another babushka stuck her head out to take a look at the other one and, from an excess of curiosity, also took a tumble, splattering herself.
   Later, from the window spilled a third babushka, then a fourth and a fifth one.
   By the time the sixth babushka came flying out, I grew bored with this spectacle and took a walk to the Mal’tsevsky Market where they say some blind cripple had been given a hand-knitted shawl.



Links to Russian Originals.




The Ring

Bracelets –
                   remains of chains.
And in the same of course vein
on your submissive little hand
           a golden ring.
Oh, poor one!
                     I'm saddened to tears.
You're destroying yourself;
                                         you don't love.
The ring's already one with the finger;
how does one chop off
                                   one's own hand?



Dream Within a Dream


I screamed the night through.
But no one heard,
no one came.
And I died.


I died.
No one came,
and no one heard.
I screamed the whole night.


I died!
and screamed all night.
No one came,
no one heard....



Soon the snow will run in rivulets,
soon the fields will fill with bread.
I don't want a chickadee in hand.
What I want is a crane in the sky.



Links to Russian Originals.




JAN SATUNOVSKY (1913-1982)

Kha and Veh
and Vvedensky.

The forest resurrects.

Rust-colored scum—
even it again rises.

But these two
will never wake again.

            July 4, 1967



I am a small man.
I write small poems.

I want to write one thing
and another emerges.

The poem realizes itself.
The poem itself urges.

            Jan. 26, 1969



As long as intellectual labor
provides aesthetic satisfaction
let us consider this: what if we turn
our attention to the sphere of conscience?

                                   Feb. 11, 1971


In perfect pitch the outdoor brass orchestra,
the horns in pace with the concert master,
the sound quality ascending to the stars,
violins on key – like on his web the spider;
and swooning couples stride along the street
(as it was written, two of every monster.)

                                            Yalta, Apr. 30, 1974



Above all else the gall to know this is poetry.


Links to Russian Originals.



To Postscript and more poems by: Alexander Blok Nikolay Nekrasov Vyacheslav Ivanov Sergey Gorodetsky Zinaida Gippius Sophia Parnok Nikolay Aseyev Georgy Ivanov Gavrila Derzhavin Nikolay Karamzin Alexander Pushkin Mikhail Lermontov


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