Tuesday, November 5, 2013

three Antonin Ladinsky poems

Translated by my friend Jillian Parker.


Leaning over me, mother used to 
Tell me the fairy tale of a fox, 
How the sly fox dragged the geese off,
About the great bear living in the forest.
I remember many tears and strange sighs,
And nights my mother would not sleep.
The brightly polished tin soldiers
She bought for me in the city,
And in the creaking blue snow-drifts
she pulled me in a fur oven
A sullen boy with a large forehead
Brought to lively children on a visit to a noisy home.
But it was boring to me amid the bustle,
Amid the strange blonde girls
To watch the puppet shows,
Drink tea from  tiny gold (children’s) cups,
And, hidden in the corner behind the chest,
I listened, deaf to the commotion of the far-away room,
As heaven with the terrible tenderness of thunder
First fluttered over me,
When a large grand piano opened,
With one black lacquered wing beating,
A great swallow in a white hall
Beating above the waxed parquet.

We are bored here on earth as in a cradle

We are bored here on earth as in a cradle
Dreaming of celestial trains
We sat there at the way-stations
Like passengers in knots.
But behold the beautiful voice of the Pacific,
And, clapping our wings above us,
We fly into air with a drawn-out cry,
We hang between heaven and earth.
With the hissing cloud of vapors, ever higher
We clamber into the heights of night.
And my head is spinning at its roof --
Not knowing, where is above, where below
Everything spins, we know not ourselves,
We need to become  accustomed to the height of our homes
Wondering whether the black is the sky above us,
Or whether the earth is blue?

Well, now we’re here, the horses are foaming

Well, now we’re here, the horses are foaming,
the earth wobbles like a cradle,
I said, worrying about the luminosity
That rises every day from their land.
The Muscovites chuckled good-naturedly --
It’s winter here, we’re blinded by rays--
Then saw how proudly hung the domes of the 
Kremlin, and the height of fabulous men.
And the sun! --A rose in earliest morn--
Near enough to touch! What beauty!
This is why in the eyes of the Moscow dames
Burns a wave of blue heat.
How I fell in love with Russian tunics,
Over tea, and talking about the people.
Under the windows, frost crackles, and cups
are steaming, and a voice in my chest is singing,
And the bell-tower, interrupted by a choir
With all the tenderness of velvet bells, 
Like a marvelous yearning of the heart
Onto the lush snow-drifts of wintry dreams.

1896 - 1961

To me, this fellow looks so dang cool. Maybe the coolest dang face I've ever seen. Sort of like Dracula's unfanged third cousin twice removed.

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