Poems translated by Lenny Zeltser (me).
If stars get kindled,
Then—someone needs that?
Then someone wants them to be there?
Then someone treasures these spittles as diamonds?
in the afternoon heat,
he’s pleading to God;
frightened that it is too late,
kisses His rugged hand,
that there be a star!—
he wouldn’t survive the starless torture!
And after, he wanders restlessly,
but looking unruffled,
“You’re all right now?
then someone needs that?
Then it is essential that
there is at least one star
above our homes?!
— Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1914 (Послушайте!)
We Walked Together
We walked together, yet somehow
Your eyes avoided my direction,
And in the breeze of summer day
We had a mindless conversation.
White clouds calmly strolled across
The silk apparel of the gardens.
Serene and pallid was your cheek,
And eyes were glittering like flowers.
I feared reaching with my gaze
The warmth of your half-opened lips.
Yet, we were blissfully untamed
By the perplexing world in which we lived.
— Ivan Bunin, 1917 (Мы рядом шли, но на меня…)
How They Flicker
Goodness, look at how they flicker,
All these spring times, all these winters!
Yet again, the snow is melting
Yet again, a blizzard nears.
Frenzied circles on the track field,
It’s a chase that perseveres—
Playing catch up with each other;
Game of tag, with turns and misses…
The ascent of such a spiral
Would’ve been forever hidden,
Had we never measured progress
By our trees and our children.
– Irina Snegova (Боже, как они мелькают…)