Love Poems – some of my translations

See the Russian texts.

A Window

Not long ago I rode one evening
along a misty path for home,
and by the moonlight dimly gleaming
I saw a lass who sat alone
inside a window, where, reflecting,
she seemed by vague forebodings filled,
and restlessly she kept inspecting
the shadowed path that skirts the hills.

“I’m here!” there came a breathless murmur.
She, deftly as her fears allowed,
unlatched the window with a tremor…
The moon then passed behind a cloud.
“You lucky man!” I muttered, grieving.
“A jolly night’s in store for you.
How long to wait before, one evening,
for me a window opens too?”

 

To Anna Kern

I well recall a wondrous meeting,
the moment we came face to face –
you, like a vision all too fleeting,
pure spirit of exquisite grace. 

Later, in torpor and depression,
in uproar, fuss, fatuity,
I’d catch that voice’s soft expression,
dream of those features dear to me. 

Time passed. The storms of fierce repression
dispersed those dreams of yesteryear,
drove from my mind your soft expression,
your heavenly features I’d held dear.

 In exile’s dismal isolation
my days dragged by in misery –
no goddesses, no inspiration,
no tears, no life, no love for me!

 Now night has passed, despair’s retreating:
once more we’re meeting face to face –
you, like a vision still too fleeting,
pure spirit of exquisite grace!

 My heart now throbs in exaltation,
exhilarated to attain
its goddess and its inspiration,
its tears, its life, its love again.

The Unresponsive Rose

An eastern night in spring, a silent garden’s gloom –
there sings a nightingale above a rose in bloom.
But, though he sings, it’s plain how unconcerned his rose is:
for all his hymns of love she hangs her head and dozes.
Why then do you assail cold beauty with your song?
Oh poet, show more sense! Why battle on so long?
Will she show interest in poets? Not a chance, huh! –
she blooms while you look on; but when you call – no answer!

My Autograph

You want my autograph – but why?
This name will die, a mournful roar
of breaking surf on far-off shore,
or in dark woods a night owl’s cry.

My name signed on your album page
will leave a mark that’s dead, the same
as when on tombs there’s carved a name
in script of a forgotten age. 

This name – you’ll cease to think of it
when mired in turmoil and dissension,
and of our former friendship it
will bring you no fond recollection.

 When lonely, though, in misery,
pronounce it then to ease your grief,
and say: “Someone remembers me;
there’s still one heart in which I live.”

Second Meeting (for the Album of Princess A. D. Abamelek)

Once (this brings back a warm sensation!)
I cradled you in admiration –
a gorgeous baby you were then.
You’ve blossomed now – in veneration
I greet you, now we meet again.
My heart and eyes fix their attention
on you; I quiver deep inside;
and in both you and your perfection,
like an old nursemaid, I take pride.

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