(1892 - 1941)
Considered one of the greatest Russian poets of the 20th century, Marina Ivanova Tsvetaeva wrote poetry born of great pain. Her poetry is lyrical, linguistically inventive and complex, and deeply philosophical. From the time that she was a child to the end of her life she struggled, but the traumas of her life found expression in her writing. Born into the upper class to an art historian father and a musician mother, from an early age Marina was exposed to the leading intellectuals of Moscow. Her mother wanted her to be a great musician, but Marina's talent was for writing, not for music. To try to discourage her early interest in poetry, Marina's mother destroyed all her work, but Marina kept at it despite the lack of support, and once her mother died, Marina gave up music and focused on her writing. She was an accomplished linguist in Russian, French, and German. Her first book of poems was published in 1910, and the book's success brought her acceptance among the members of the Russian literary circle. She married and moved to the Crimea with her husband. But once the Russian Revolution began, Marina was caught up in its consequences. Her husband fought on the wrong side, supporting the White Army against the Bolsheviks. Marina moved back to Moscow with her children, in the hope of meeting her husband there, but she had no way to support her family and instead found herself in the midst of a famine that claimed the life of one of her daughters. During her five-year separation from her husband, Marina wrote a series of political poems called The Demesne of the Swans and also wrote several plays for her friend, the actress Sofia Gollidey, but existence was difficult and unpredictable. She finally heard from her husband who had escaped to Berlin, and Marina joined him there in 1922. During their exile, the family lived in increasing poverty in Germany, Prague, and finally Paris, remaining there until 1939. Marina continued to write both poetry and prose, and through letters developed a lasting friendship with Russian author Boris Pasternak. But a number of factors were at work that would eventually lead her to disaster. Her husband became a Soviet spy and eventually had to flee France to escape indictment for the murder of another Soviet agent. Although by all accounts Marina had no idea that her husband was a spy, the Paris intelligentsia blamed her for his actions and turned their backs on her. So with remarkably bad timing and judgment, Marina returned to Russia during the height of the Stalin terror. Her husband was arrested and executed (his attempt to gain Communist acceptance with his spying activities had failed), and she was totally ostracized and prevented from supporting herself and her son (Marina's other daughter had deserted her in Paris and returned to Russia where she was imprisoned). When Germany attacked Russia, Marina's son joined the army and was lost at the front. Marina was evacuated from Moscow to the Tartar Autonomous Republic where penniless, alone, and unknown, she hanged herself in 1941. Marina was born on October 9, 1892.
вы больны не
что вы при мне
вам и сердцем
3 мая 1915
glad that I long not for you
the heavy sphere of Earth
not flow under our feet
am glad that it's allowed to be funny--
waste no words for games;
not to be chocked by a wave of blushing
When our sleeves touch ever so slightly.
also like that in my presence undisturbed
arms surround another woman,
you don't ask me to burn in poisoned
when I am kissing not you;
sweetheart, you don't call my sweet name
day nor night, at any time,
in the calm of an Eastern Church
never sing for us: hallelujah!
thank you with my heart and hand
your--unknown to you!--love of me,
my peace at night, for the seldomness
our meetings at the sunset hour;
our non-walks under the moon,
the sun not over our heads,
your longing--alas!--not for me,
For my longing--alas!--not for you.
что здесь -
3 мая 1913
me in the way. I used to
so, without looking up.
passerby! Don't refuse to.
beg and I pray you -- stop!
read, as you lay the glowing
blossoms on the mound of grass:
And then more slowly:
The dates -- of my birth and death.
there is a grave, but leave it
hount you I won't, no fear.
too, you can well believe it,
Once laught in the midst of tears.
blood through my veins coursed freely,
locks curled around my face.
passerby! Can't you feel it?
too, passerby, once was.
strawberry. Pluck it, eat it!
there, near the very ground.
berries are ever sweeter
those in a graveyard found.
only no gloom, no tightly
lips, do not brood or fret.
lightly on me, and lightly
name, passerby, forget.
sun's dust-like beams caress you,
shoulders and head they lave.
don't let the voice distress you
cames to you from grave.
Это пеплы сокровищ: Утрат, обид. Это пеплы, пред коими В прах - гранит.
Голубь голый и светлый, Не живущий четой. Соломоновы пеплы Над великой тщетой.
Беззакатного времени Грозный мел. Значит Бог в мои двери - Раз дом сгорел!
Не удушенный в хламе, Снам и дням господин, Как отвесное пламя Дух - из ранних седин!
И не вы меня предали, Годы, в тыл! Эта седость - победа Бессмертных сил. 27 сентября 1922
Cinzas dos tesouros. (*)
Das perdas, ofensas.
Cinzas ante as quais
O granito é pó.
Pombo nu e claro,
Sozinho, sem par.
De Salomão as cinzas
Sobre a grande vaidade.
O tempo sem ocaso.
Deus passou-me à porta –
Já que a casa ardeu!
Livre da tralha velha,
O espírito, chama recta,
É amo de sonhos, dias
E do – precoce encanecer!
Não foram os anos quem
Me traiu na retaguarda!
Cabelo branco é a vitória
Dos poderes imortais.
27 de Setembro de 1922
Поэт — издалека
O poeta – começa a falar de longe.
Ao poeta – a fala leva-o longe.
Por planetas, agoiros, buracos de fábulas
Sinuosas… Entre sim e não, mesmo
Ao lançar-se do campanário fará
Um rodeio… Porque a roda dos cometas –
É a rota dos poetas. Com os elos dispersos
Da causalidade – se liga! Com a fronte
Virada ao alto – te desespera! Não constam
Do calendário os eclipses do poeta.
É aquele que baralha as cartas, ilude
O peso e a medida, o que faz perguntas
Interrompendo a professora, é aquele
Que desbarata o Kant.
É ele quem, no pétreo caixão das Bastilhas,
Se ergue como árvore em toda a sua beleza.
Aquele de quem se perdem sempre as pegadas,
É aquele comboio que toda a gente
Porque a rota dos cometas
É a rota dos poetas: queimando sem calor,
Arrancando sem semear – explodir, romper –
O teu rumo, a tua curva de crinas,
Não consta do calendário!
8 de Abril de 1923
(*)Tradução de Nina Guerra e Filipe Guerra, Marina Tsvetáeva, Depois da Rússia, 1922-1925, Relógio de Água, Novembro de 2001.
Some sites about Marina Tsvetaeva:
Andrey Kneller - Translations into English: http://home.comcast.net/~kneller/tsvetaeva.html
Published: 22 May 2012
Marina Tsvetayeva came of age in Moscow during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the famine that followed. She published her first collection of poems, Vechemy Albom (Evening Album) in 1910, at the age of eighteen; her Selected Poems were translated into English, by Elaine Feinstein, in 1971, followed by translations of A Captive Spirit (1994), and Earthly Signs: The Moscow diaries, 1917–1922, which appeared last year. Throughout her career, Tsvetayeva drew on the work of Boris Pasternak, Rainer Maria Rilke and Anna Akhmatova, among others, but she bore more than her share of grief, too. During the Moscow famine in 1919, she attempted to save her younger daughter, Irina, from starvation by placing her in a state orphanage; the child died soon after. Her husband, Sergei Efron, who had worked for the Soviet secret police, was executed in 1939, while her surviving daughter, Ariadna, was sent to a labour camp. On August 31, 1941, not long after the German army invaded the Soviet Union, Tsvetayeva hanged herself.
Her poetry, verse plays and collected prose still speak for the voiceless of that time, particularly the young women and mothers driven to desperate measures. “Rails”, as translated by Feinstein, quietly captures the chaos of those “departing, deserting” a country they had once called home. In the first lines of the poem, Tsvetayeva compares the railroad tracks to a bed with “tidy sheets”, a place of comfort, before switching to a metaphor in which “parallel tracks ruled out / as neatly as staves” resemble sheets of music instead. One imagines how the musical qualities of verse often soothed the poet’s sorrows. Yet “Rails” asserts that that no amount of hope can muffle “the note of pain always rising / higher than love”; only acceptance of pain might help us to transcend our suffering. “Despair”, which she compares to an “arranged marriage”, may come, but may also lead to transformations. Even as the speaker becomes “Sappho with her voice gone” – perhaps contemplating the loss of her own muse – she seems to rejoice. She becomes “a simple seamstress”, then “a marsh heron”, able to rise above the scene, to contemplate it from a distance. She will see the train move along the tracks “and slice through them like scissors”. The last lines of the poem are cutting, too, with their allusions to both suicide and marriage at once. “Rails” shows us a poet at the height of her creative powers, yet powerless to halt the division and destruction that shaped her life and the lives of so many others.
В некой разлинованности нотной
Нежась наподобие простынь —
Рельсовая режущая синь!
Пушкинское: сколько их, куда их
Гонит! (Миновало — не поют!)
Это — остаются. Боль как нота
Высящаяся… Поверх любви
Высящаяся… Женою Лота
Насыпью застывшие столбы…
Час, когда отчаяньем как свахой
Простыни разостланы. — Твоя! —
И обезголосившая Сафо
Плачет как последняя швея.
Плач безропотности! Плач болотной
Цапли… Водоросли — плач! Глубок
Ножницами режущий гудок.
Растекись напрасною зарею
Красное напрасное пятно!
…Молодые женщины порою
Льстятся на такое полотно.
10 июля 1923
The bed of a railway cutting has tidy sheets. The steel-blueparallel tracks ruled out as neatly as staves of music.
And over them people are driven like possessed creatures from Pushkinwhose piteous song has been silenced. Look, they’re departing, deserting.
And yet lag behind and linger, the note of pain always risinghigher than love, as the poles freeze to the bank, like Lot’s wife, forever.
Despair has appointed an hour for me Sappho with her voice gone I shall weep like a simple seamstress, (as someone arranges a marriage): then
with a cry of passive lament – a marsh heron! The moving train will hoot its way over the sleepers and slice through them like scissors.
Colours blur in my eye, their glow a meaningless red.All young women at times are tempted by such a bed!
MARINA TSVETAYEVA (1979)
Translated by Elaine Feinstein
‘We are keeping an eye on the girls’
За девками доглядывать, не скис
ли в жбане квас, оладьи не остыли ль,
Да перстни пересчитывать, анис
Всыпая в узкогорлые бутыли.
Кудельную расправить бабке нить,
Да ладаном курить по дому росным,
Да под руку торжественно проплыть
Соборной площадью, гремя шелками, с крёстным.
Кормилица с крикливым петухом
В переднике — как ночь ее повойник! —
Докладывает древним шепотком,
Что молодой — в часовенке — покойник.
И ладанное облако углы
Унылой обволакивает ризой,
И яблони — что ангелы — белы,
И голуби на них — что ладан — сизы.
И странница, прихлебывая квас
Из ковшика, на краешке лежанки,
О Разине досказывает сказ
И о его прекрасной персиянке.
26 марта 1916
ceremoniously, the house is filled with the
in her apron – her clothes are like the
under its own saddened chasuble.
kvass from the ladle
SEPTEMBER 11, 2018
TLS review of Simon Karlinsky’s biography of Tsvetaeva called her: “a poets’ poet . . . scarcely intelligible even to specialists”. Translating her work is notoriously difficult. In her translation of “Appointment” (first published in the TLS in 1980), Elaine Feinstein made sacrifices: the poet’s characteristic dashes were replaced with extra spaces or enjambment to work with the natural syntax of the English version. Feinstein realized that “some of Tsvetayeva’s abruptness had been smoothed out and the poems had gained a different, more logical scheme of development”.
After Russia (1928). The collection is pervaded by a feeling of exclusion from love and life – in Prague, an intensely desired meeting with Boris Pasternak failed, sparking an obsession with “non-meetings” and her conviction that poets were doomed to solitude. At the time, Ophelia became an important figure in her poetry, standing in for the unfulfilled woman. Tsvetaeva’s was an emotionally tormented life: married, she had ruinous affairs with both men and women. “Appointment” most likely addresses her epistolary romance with Pasternak. As with Ophelia, the reticence of a potential lover in the face of a lower form of love has led the speaker to her demise: “She gulped at love, and filled her mouth with silt”.
«На назначенное свиданье…»
На назначенное свиданье
Буду годы идти — не дрогнул
Землю долго прожить! Трущоба —
Той, что страсти хлебнув, лишь ила
18 июня 1923
we arranged. When I arrive, my
across mountains or town squares
with blood in every thicket,
with silt. A shaft of light on metal!
Translated by Elaine Feinstein
SOPHIA PARNOK on this site
Other pages on this poet in this site here and here