Alexander Blok

1880-1921

Collected   Poems

Translated from the Russian by Alec Vagapov


Table of  Contents


                      ***
The girl was singing in a church choir, 
About the weary abroad, far away, 
About the ships in the sea, so dire,
And those who'd forgotten their happy day.
 
So sweet was her voice flying up into highness 
With shimmering beam on her shoulder of white, 
And every one listened watching from darkness 
The way the white garment was singing in light.
 
And every one thought that the joy was there, 
That the ships were all in a quiet bay, 
And the weary people abroad, full of care, 
Were now all blessed with a happy day.
 
The voice was sweet, and the beam was shining,
And only up there at the royal rack 
A child, conversant with secret, was crying 
That nobody, really, would ever come back.
 
August,  1905
 
 
           ***
I recall, we would date at sundown,
You would cut the lagoon with the ore.
I admired your white dressing gown 
Not revering fine dreams any more.
 
Our dates would be awkwardly silent.
Up ahead on the sandy shore 
Evening candles would light up, and someone 
Thought of beauty, about to show. 
 
Close-up, burning and intimate feeling  
Quiet azure wouldnít partake. 
We would meet in the haze of the evening
On the shore of the rippled lake. 
 
All has vanished : love, torment, yearning,
All has faded forevermoreÖ
Slender waist and the voices of mourning, 
Our row and your golden ore. 
 
May 13th , 1902   
 
 
                 ***
I while away my reckless life,
My life, extremely dull and sombre,
Now I rejoice, restrained and sober,  
Now I shed tears, sing and strive. 
 
But if one day I am to die?
What if behind me stands the visage
That covers mirror, like an image,
With his enormous hand? Oh my ! 
 
The mirror light will flash and burn, 
Iíll close my eyes in trepidation
And Iíll retreat to destination 
From where no one will returnÖ 
 
September 17th,  1910
 
                   *** 
To boring, tedious noise and ringing
And to the city empty fuss,
Relaxed at heart, now Iím leaving
Into he drizzle, void and dusk.
 
I cut the fibber of my senses,
My whereabouts I forgetÖ
I see the snow, trams, buildings, fences
With lights and darkness up ahead.
 
And what if I, bewitched, enchanted,
My conscience thread beyond retrieve,
Come home disgraced and broken-hearted,-
Will you be able to forgive?
 
You are my leading light, my wizard,
You know the target, I presume,
Will you forgive my storms and blizzards,
My trash, my poetry and gloom?
 
Or, p'rhaps , youíd better, not forgiving,
Awake the bells upon the dome,
So that the slash at night, misleading,
Might not seclude me from my home?
 
February 2, 1909
 
                   *** 
You are as bright  as snow, my dear
And like a church,  you look so white. 
I donít believe this night,  so drear, 
And the despairing eventide. 
 
Nor do I want to trust all over 
My soul,  worn out forevermore. 
So, maybe,  I, belated  rover, 
Will knock upon your chamber door. 
 
You will forgive the foul player 
For his pernicious  pains and  grief, 
You'll stretch your hand to the betrayer 
And give him spring-time as a gift. 
 
September 4th, 2006 
 
     The  Unknown Lady
The heated air in the restaurants
Is  wild and dull as anything,
The drunken  hails are ruled by  restless
And noxious spirit of the spring.
 
Far off, beyond the dusty alley
Over the boring   country side
There is a bakeshop,  and the valley
Resounds with crying of a child.
 
And every night, beyond the barriers,
Parading, cocking their hats,
Amidst the ditches the admirers
Perambulate with dear  hearts.
 
Above the lake the creak of ore-lock
And womenís screams impale the place,
And in the sky, the moon disk warlock,
Inanely smiling,  makes a face.
 
And every night, my friend appears
As  a reflection in my glass,
Like me, heís stunned  and  set at ease
By magic liquid, drunk en mass.
 
The  footmen, true to their habits,
Relax at tables next to us,
And drunkards, staring  like rabbits,
Exclaim:  In vino veritas!
 
And  every evening  at this  hour
(or is it just a dreamy  case?)
A waist in satin,  like a flower,
Moves past the window in the haze.
 
Without drunken men to hinder,
Alone, she walks across the room
And settles down by the window
Exhaling fog and sweet perfume.
 
There is a kind of old times flavour
About her silky clothes and things:
Her hat, in mourning plumes as ever,
Her hand and fingers, all in rings.
 
I feel her close (a strange emotion),
And looking through the veil,  I see
The  vast of an amazing ocean,
The coast of an amazing sea.
 
I am informed of inmost secrets,
Somebodyís sun is now all  mine,
My  body, heart and soul, in sequence,
Have all been pierced by the wine.
 
The  ostrich plumes, desired and welcome,
Are gently swaying in my mind,
And  dark  blue eyes, as  deep as welkin,
Are blooming  on the distant side.
 
Deep in my soul I have  some riches
And Iím the one who has the key!
Youíre right, you heady monstrous creature!
In vino veritas,  I see. 
 
April 24th, 1906
 
Note
1. In vino veritas - the truth is in wine (Latin)
 
 
 
 
      The Guardian Angel
I love you , my Guardian Angel,  you are
A sparkle in darkness, my guiding star.
 
I love you because youíre  my fair bride,
Because of  my secrets you have deprived.
 
Because  we are bound by secret and night,
Because youíre my mother, my daughter, my bride.
 
I love you because we are  destined in life
To be ever together as husband and wife.
 
I love you for prayers of yours and my chains
And for the family cursers and pains.
 
I love you for hating whatever I do
Like helping  the poor whom I give their due.
 
I love you, because we just we canít live at one,
Because   I can kill  a detestable man.
 
Iíd  kill in revenge for the weak and the blind,
The one who abased me and people of mine.
 
The one who has jailed the strong and the free, 
Who didnít  believe in my fire and me.
 
Who wants to deprive me of light of the day
And purchase submission from me in some way.
 
I love you because I am weak,   I admit
my ancestors were of servile breed.
 
The poison of kindness has  taken my life,
I cannot resort to the use of a knifeÖ
 
I love you because I am weak,  I believe
Youíre strong,  and youíve known  the savour of grief.
 
For what is burnt down and  coated with lead
Cannot be torn  and stamped out,  you bet!
 
We witnessed  this sunset,  and now you and I
Are watching this bottomless abyss, oh my!
 
Dual  bidding of destiny - how can it be ?
We are  vicious slaves! Our souls are free!
 
 
Be humble and daring!  Donít go! Get away!
Whatís up ahead? Is it night or day?
 
Where are we going? Who calls? Who will cry?
Together -  forever Ė constrained - you and I  !
 
Shall we revive? Shall we perish and die?
 
==============================
August 17th, 1906
 
                             ***
 
        The heavy dream of simple wordly conscience
        You will shake off with pangs of love and rue.
                V. Solovyov
Anticipating you,  as years go by,  so  drear,
I see the same old image anticipating you.
 
The skyline is on fire, and  itís extremely clear.
I wait for you in silence with pangs of love and rue.
 
The skyline is on fire - your  vision is so near,
I am afraid youíll change and will not look the same,
 
You will arouse suspicion incurring  wrath, my dear,
By changing your appearance,  the  features and the  frame.
 
I will break down in grief,  frustrated  and austere,
Unable to subdue  the mortal dreams again!
 
The skyline is so lucid.  The lustre is so near.
I am afraid youíll change and will not look the same.
 
September 15th, 2006
 
 
 
                   ***
 
Life slowly  moved like a mature fortune teller
Mysteriously  whispering  forgotten words.
I sighed,  regretting something , loss, or failure,
My head was filled with dreams of other worlds.
 
As I approached the fork I stopped to stare
At  the serrated forest by the road.
By force of some volition , even there
The heaven seemed to be a heavy load.
 
And I remembered  the untold and  hidden reason
For captured power  of youth and  captured hopes,
While up ahead the fading day of  season,
Was gilding the serrated verdure topsÖ
 
Spring,  tell me, what do I regret? What failure?
What are the dreams that come into my head?
My life,  like a mature fortune teller,
Is whispering the words I did  forget.
 
March 16th, 1902
 
                        ***
 
So when I retire from the timeline stream
Abandoning  censure and praise
Remember  the kindness, the warmhearted dream
I lived on and  bloomed in those days. 
 
My darling, I know Youíll forget all the spite
There used to be  on  my part,
When You, like a swan,  appeared, snow-white,
Impaling the depth of my heart.
 
I wasnít the one who had  wounded Your pride,
It was   someone elseís  design.
Dark clouds would trouble  my day and my  light,
Your day was brighter than mine.
 
So when I retire from this lifetime string
And vanish beyond the blue grid,
You will remember the song we would sing,-
Iíd sing  it, and You would repeat.
 
November 1, 1903
 
 
                    ***
        Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
         That bide the pelting of this pitiless stormÖ
                                                             King Lear
Oh what a storm! Itís like insane,
The wicked blizzard wails and rages,
The clouds rush with pouring rain
The wind now fades, now wails and surges.
 
Oh what a fright! On such a night
I pity the forsaken  homeless,
Compassion makes me take to flight
Into the arms of soaking coldness!..
 
To fight the darkness and the rain
And share  the fate of wretched martyrsÖ
Oh what a storm! Itís like insane,
The wicked blizzard wails and sputters!
 
August 24th, 1899
 
 
      ***
 
Above  the forest, field and meadow,
Above the land and  water flow
So fresh, congenial and mellow,
You turn up everywhere I go.
 
Your waist under the summer cloud,
Your waist , wrapped up in  fur, I praise,
I sing and laud it  out loud,
Enveloped in poetic haze.
 
Through years and streams, imparting wisdom,
Upon the cross,  and when Iím tight,
My friend,  my dear child of freedom,
 I love you , dearly, my light.
 
July 8th, 1907
 
 
***
 
Run-down and  worn from daily rambles
I will forsake the bustling whims
To bring to mind  the sores of troubles
And stir the former, bygone  dreamsÖ
 
If only I could breathe instilling
The  joy of  spring into her soul!
Oh  no, I do not aim at killing
Her childish idleness at all!
 
Iíd better keep my soul from striving
To her unearthly heights, alas,
Where happiness  appears  shining ,
But it is not designed  for us.
 
September 29th, 2006
 
 
                  * * *
 
 
Let the dawn  keep shining out,
Let the warbler sing at night,
How I wish  I was allowed
To embrace and hold you tight!
 
Our  boat will float  with blessing
In the canes with rustling leaves,
You will cling to me, caressing,
Heated  passion on your lips.
 
Sing, my love, and let the air
Flow with the amazing song,
Youíre  more beautiful and fair
Than the bird that sings along.
 
 May 1898 (March 3, 1921)
 
 
              At the Restaurant
 
I will never forget it (did it happen-who cares?)
Burnt and split by the sunset blaze
Was the pallid celestial vast,  and some flares
Came to light in  the yellow space.
 
There I sat by the window,  in a crowded chamber.
Fiddlesticks were singing again.
And I sent you a flower, black rose, I remember,
And a bottle of golden champagne.
 
As you glanced, full of pride,  I was slightly  embarrassed,
But I looked and I bowed from above.
And addressing the man standing by, harsh and balanced,
You said: ďOh, this one, too,  is in loveĒ.
 
All at once  the guitars  started playing the song and
Fiddlesticks played in  tune   with the bandÖ
But you were with me with your youthful dishonour,
I could see by the move of your hand.
 
 And you dashed  like a bird as if suddenly roused,
Passing by, like my dream you were lightÖ
And there came a sweet  fume,  and the eyelashes drowsed
To the whisper of silk  in the night.
 
Now and then from the mirror at me youíd be glancing
As you did  ďCatch it nowĒ  you would askÖ
And the jewelry  rattled, the gipsy  kept dancing
And she screamed  of her  love to the dusk.
 
 
April 19th, 1910
 
 
               * * *
 
There is impulsive youth again,
With bursts of vigour, views far-outÖ
But happy moments never came.
At least this doesnít raise a doubt!
 
You have to be on the alert
For threat awaits  you here and yonder.
And should you get away unhurt,
You will, at last, believe in wonder.
 
At last youíll see and  understand
That fortune wasnít your intention,
And that the futile  dream you had
Was of extremely brief duration.
 
The cup was filled and overflowed
With joy  of  exquisite creation,
And all I had is your possession,
And we are bound with the world.
 
I think that every now and then,
You  will remember, smiling dearly,
The dubious  childish dream we tend
To take for happiness,  naively!
 
1912
 
 
                  * * *
 
There is impulsive youth again,
With bursts of vigour, views far-outÖ
But happy moments never came.
At least this doesnít raise a doubt!
 
You have to be on the alert
For threat awaits  you here and yonder.
And should you get away unhurt,
You will, at last, believe in wonder.
 
At last youíll see and  understand
That fortune wasnít your intention,
And that the futile  dream you had
Was of extremely brief duration.
 
The cup was filled and overflowed
With joy  of  exquisite creation,
And all I had is your possession,
And we are bound with the world.
 
I think that every now and then, 
You  will remember, smiling dearly,
The dubious  childish dream we tend
To take for happiness,  naively!
 
 1912
 
 
      ***
 
I would forget about courage, winning, 
About   glory   in the grievous land
When I looked up to see your portrait beaming
In  an uncomely frame I had at hand.
 
The time had come and you left home for ever.
I threw the cherished  ring into the night.
You gave your destiny to someone in your favour,
And I forgot your charming face all right.
 
Days,  like a hateful  swarm,  flew by, a-whirling ,
By passion and  carouse my life was doneÖ
And I remembered you before the lectern, darling,
I called you like my youth,  now  past and gone.
 
I called your name but somehow you looked down,
I cried - you didnít care about my mood;
You wrapped yourself up in a dark blue gown,
It was wet night when you left home for good.
 
My love, I donít know where youíve settled down
And where youíve found a shelter for your pride..
Iím fast asleep, and I can see the gown
You were wearing as you left home that night.
 
To dream about caress  I wonít be able
For youth  is past and gone,  along with fame!
So I have put your portrait off the table,
Your lovely face in an uncomely  frame!
 
December 30th, 1908
 
 
 
                           * * *
 
At night  when troubles settle down
And darkness hides the streets and lanes -
Thereís so much music all around,
God  sends us such amazing strains!
 
What is the tempest,  if your  flowers,
Adorn the  blooming garden-bed!
What are the bitter  tears of ours,
If sunset  flares turning red!
 
Through blood and torment, grave and crushing,
Oh,  Mistress of the Universe,
Accept the  foamy cup of passion
From an unworthy  slave of yours!
 
 1898 (June 2, 1919)
 
 
                  * * *
                              to  N. Goon
I havenít lived so long as youÖ
Iíve sung while youíve been down and out.
A   spirit  came  out of the blue
To show  the sea  of ample soundÖ
 
Your soul  is chained stirred by the blast
Of storm and whirlwind wailing  there,
While mine is free,  as fine as dust,
That blows around  in the air.
 
My friend,  Iíve felt since long ago
Iíll be impaired by my portionÖ
My heart is berried, and I know
It wonít be  ever set in motion!
 
When we get tired and cease to be,
When in the haze we disappear
Do come to have a rest with me,
And I will come to see you, dear!
 
October 20,  2006
 
 
               * * *
You were the fairest of all, no denying,
Please, donít curse me and, pray, donít disgrace!
My train, like the song of a gipsy,  is flying,
Like those irrevocable daysÖ
 
What I loved is gone by, disappearedÖ
Up ahead is a hidden  wayÖ
Unforgettable, blessed and revered,
IrretrievableÖ  pardon me, pray!
 
19145
 
 
             * * *
The way she did before, she wanted
To breathe her life into my heart,
Into my body, all exhausted,
Into my chilly habitat.
 
She came along like welkin,
I couldnít rise from bed to go,
Nor could I stir my arm  to welcome
And tell her I had missed her so!...
 
I watched her with  my eyes dim,  hollow,
Whatever was she grieving for?..
There werenít  any words,  nor sorrow,
Nor joy between us any more.
 
The earthly heart was tired and wasted.
So many days and years have past!...
The earthly  happiness,  belated,
Came riding in a cab so fast!
 
Now, deathly sick and broken down,
Iím yearning for the change of  tide,
Iím content  with the sundown
And unafraid of endless night.
 
I had eternityís sensation
With peace and quiet in my heart,
It quenched  the  fire of vexation
With chilly dampness  of the nightÖ
 
July 30th,  1908
 
                         ***
                                               to S. Solovyov
 
Obscure daily  shadows run about.
The sound of the bells is clear and high.
The stairs of the church are shining out,
Alive, theyíre  waiting  for you to come by.
 
As you step in youíll touch a boulder, faintly,
Clad  in the  gruesome  virtue of the past,
Perchance,  youíll drop an April  flower gently
Amidst the prudent icons, in the dusk..
 
The rosy shadows run , obscure and scarce,
The sound of the bells is clear and high,
Dark mist is falling on the aged stairsÖ
Iím waiting  for your footsteps to come by.
 
October 28th, 2006
 
                   ***
 
We were together, I recallÖ
The night was thrilled, the fiddle singingÖ
You were mine, my kindly soul,
The loveliest of all in beingÖ.
 
Through murmur of the brook  in peace,
Through the  mysterious female giggle
The lips were longing for  a kiss,
The heart for sound of the fiddleÖ
 
March 9th, 1918
                ***
 
I see the long forgotten blaze,
And I can clearly  hear, in silence,
Another song behind the violins,
The chesty voice that filled the space.
 
That Ďs how she answered all my pledges,
My love and passion,  first and last,
I recognize it when the blast
Of wind and  blizzard wails and rages.
 
The past has gone without a trace,
And only some oneís  aspiration
Reminds  me somehow, with good grace,
Of  happiness and exultation.
 
December 12, 1913
                 ***
You and I are forlorn,  I presume.
Letís relax  in this quiet room.
 
In this corner, so warm and so bright,
Let us watch the October night.
 
As before, there are lights outside.
Dear friend, we are old and retired.
 
All is gone:  hardship, blizzards and dread.
Why on earth are you looking ahead?
 
It appears you wish you could read
News or message you badly need.
 
Are you waiting for an angelís gift?
All is gone and canít be retrieved.
 
All we have are the books, walls and days.
Dear friend, we wonít change our ways.
 
I donít grumble, my wishes are small,
And I donít  grieve for bygones at all.
 
And I wonder just why you begin
Threading  beads on a shiny  string
 
Like you did in the past, long ago,
Those were really the  days, you know!
 
But you were young then,  and how!
And your silk was brighter than now.
 
You  were very  dexterous  thenÖ
Take a bright,  shining  thread  again,
 
So the shine of the thread, like a spark,
Might subdue,  and surmount  the dark.
 
October 19th, 1913
 
 
                           * * *
 
My friend, youíll understand, of course!
Now at this hour of dejection
Like magic,  firmly,  desperation
Dismays me  filling  with remorseÖ
 
Why is there so much depression 
And pain in my contracted  chest?
I donít need lights, and I confess
Iím tired of any congregation.
 
Those waiting for the Lord, with biasÖ
The thing they find is just  the devilÖ
They are despaired by the revel
Of  Satan always telling liesÖ
 
Those showing  mercy gentle-willed
And wounding others willy-nillyÖ
Or should we stop attempting,   really,
For  ailment is the only shield?
 
December 29th, 1912
 
          ***
A cheerful bride, she  was happy and gay,
But there came death, and she  passed away.
 
Her mother berried her close nearby
The church  came down on the pond,  half dry.
 
And over the waves of the deepest place
A cross is floating at an even pace.
 
Days, years and ages  have come to pass,
But  youth has never called on,  alas.
 
The house, so  tired of waiting for youth,
Has only the mother crowned with  ruth.
 
The woman is working with a needle and thread
The shades of the yarns on the floor vibrate.
 
Itís quiet and light  as it was in her prime.
The granny has  no account of time.
 
As old as the hills and as gray as lead,
It seems,  she will  never ever be deadÖ
 
Amidst the chairs and chests of drawers
The dancing  of flies is, as ever,  joyous.
There are  bundles of scarlet  thread on the floor,
A mouse is scratching  the wall , as before.
 
The depth of the mirror is quiet and dead,
With the same old woman as gray as lead.
 
The same old thread and the same old mice,
The same old image looking so nice.
 
It  is in a frame, as dark as the sky,
As always,  appearing modest and shy.
 
The faded appearance  is quite apathetic,
The clew of the thread is cheerful and hecticÖ
 
Deep are the  rows of the rooms on the right,
And the same old  garden blooms  outside,
 
As green as the world and as high as the night,
As tender as dearest daughter that diedÖ
 
ďCome back, do come back. The thread wonít decay.
I want to peacefully pass away.Ē
 
June 3d, 1905
 
                                    
                      ***
                                                    to Chulkov
Donít build a house by a drowned current
Where life is bustling under a strain;
Believe me, the end is always recurrent,
Itís incomprehensible, solemn and plain.
 
Like a bedtime story your fate is quiet;
Lonely heart, you had better give in and be blessed.
Go in silence to Vespers, esteemed and desired,
And pray wherever it suits you best.
 
May your visitor be as light as an angel;
Receive him as if  he were from your dream
Keep  mum so that no one might notice the stranger
that sat on a bench and flashed by  like a gleam.
 
The meaning of silence will be unknown,
So will the quiet and simple thought.
Yes. She will come with the glare of  dawn
And kiss on the lips through nobodyís  fault.
 
June 1905
 
                          ***
                   I knew her as far back
                   as those unbelievable years.
              Tutchev                                                                             
With years you havenít changed, my fair:
Youíre charming, strict, as  clear as day;
The only change is in your  hair,
Itís  sleek and with  a flash of gray.
 
Well,  as for me, Iím sitting here,
Over my books, back at my place,
With an inscrutable idea
Iím looking at your quiet face.
 
The years, they havenít changed us, really,
We live  the way we did  before,
Fantastic years, we  love them dearly
And will remember evermoreÖ
 
Their spirit is in azure darkness,
Their ashes in the urn of dust.
Itís more and more  relaxed and lustrous
To breathe remembering the past.
 
May 30th,    1906.
 
 
 
                     ***
 
I  bless my lucky stars above,
A   better fate I donít  desire.
My heart, so much you  youíve been  in love!
My mind, so oft youíve been afire!
 
Though  happy times and grievous torments
Have left  their bitter trace, all  right,
Yet in the boredom, storm and torrents
I havenít lost my former light.
 
You whom I tormented, forgive me.
We shouldnít go divided ways.
What canít be said in words, believe me,
I have discovered in your face.
 
I have my eye on it and worry,
My heart is beating  in dismay,
At night, through  darkness, snow and flurry
It goes its own righteous way.
 
January 15th , 1912
 
             ***
 
When you are on my way,
So live and so beautiful,
So tired and weary,
Talking sadly
And thinking of death,
You donít love anyone
And despise your beauty, -
Well, can  I possibly hurt you?
 
Oh no! Iím not an oppressor,
Nor an arrogant man nor a liar,
Though I know many things,
And have been, since my childhood,  a thoughtful man,
And I care too much for myself.
After all, Iím a writer,
A man calling things by their proper names,
Depriving a flower of delicate fragrance.
 
No matter how much one talks about sad things
No matter how much one thinks of the beginning and the end,
I dare think  anyway,
That youíre only fifteen,
And I wish you fell in love with an ordinary man
That loves the earth and the sky
More than the rhymed and  unrhymed speeches
About the earth and the sky.
 
I will really be glad for you,
For only a loving man has the right to be called a Human being.
 
February 6th, 1908
 
 
              ***
 
I know your face so well, my fair,
It feels like you have lived with me.
At home,  at parties, - everywhere
Your dainty look is what I see.
 
Your footsteps follow me wherever
I go or happen to be in.
Somebody chases me as ever
Isnít it you , - the one I mean?
 
Itís you who  flashes by, my fair,
The moment I am at the door,
Invisible, and light as  air,
Like an amazing   dream I saw.
 
I saw you  in the graveyard, dear,
You sat in silence,  looking blue,
A maid in cotton  kerchief here,
I wonder, was it really you?
 
I came up closer, you were sitting,
As I approached you went away.
When by the river you were singing
The bells responded with a play.
 
The sound of ringing filled the air,
I waited  humbly and I criedÖ
Behind the sound of chimes, however,
Your voice had faded out and diedÖ
 
And in a while I hear no answer.
The kerchief flashes up aheadÖ
I sadly hope there is a chance that
Weíll see each other somewhere yet.
 
August 1, 1908
 
 
 
                   *** 
 
Turning red, temple  stairsare fading.
Did you tell me youíd keep  the date?
At the entrance to eventide  praying
I have opened my heart.  I will wait.
 
I donít know my intent and desire.
I may die of relief and delight.
All aflame in the evening fire,
I will bring you to flaring light.
 
Scarlet  flame engulfs the environs
Dreams  have come, unexpectedly, true 
You are coming. Thereís  infinite  highness
Over me, and the temple, and you.
 
December 25th, 1902
 
                 ***
      
Streets were  empty,  it was just another
Boring night !
Why were you so innocent, and  rather
Filled with pride?
 
Drops of soaking darkness falling down Ö
I will rise,
And Iíll  throw a challenge, with a frown,
To the skies.
 
Thereís no happiness on earth,  undoubted,
Here we stand.
Now and then we think about it
Gun in hand..
 
And again we laugh and shed a tear,
Life goes on!
Well, itís just another day;  itís clear:
Weíll be gone!
 
November 4th, 1908
                      ***
 
Worlds, years go by. The universe is bare.
Its eyes of gloom are  staring at us.
And you, my soul,  worn-out, unaware,
Hold forth that happiness will come to passÖ
 
And what is happiness? The chilly evenings
In darkening gardens, god-forsaken wood?
Or vicious taste of wine,  and wanton feelings,
Perdition of the soul, and jovial mood?
 
Is happiness a moment, brief and solid?
Is it oblivion, a dream,  and  peace and quiet?..
As you wake up  - itís  flight again, so horrid,
Touching your heart, unknown crazy flightÖ
 
You take a breath -  and see youíre out of dangerÖ
Thatís where you feel a sudden push again!
The spinning-top set going by some stranger
Flies buzzing in a hurry,  like insane.
 
As we  get hold of sharp and sliding border
And listen  to the buzzing sound of chime,-
Donít we go mad  amidst the motley order
And change of   made-up reasons, space and time?..
 
When will it stop? We wonít be able, really,
To listen to this din  without end...
How terrible it is ! How wild ! Extremely! -
Give me a hand, forget it all, my friend!
 
July 2, 1912
 
 
                 ***
 
Oh no ! You cannot  disenchant my heart
With flatter, beauty,  or appreciation.
Iíll be a stranger, someone far apart,
A ghost, devoid of life, in your imagination.
 
YouĎll go away. And you will kiss devoutly
A  snow-white shroud, and  by candle lights
Youíll dream and  fancy  burying someone sadly
And  standing at the head three days and nights.
 
Content with the amazing dreamy hours
You will reproach your life in the extreme.
And you will decorate with tender  flowers
The burial hill you fancied in your dream.
 
And  suddenly youíll see my shade  appear
Before you on the ninth and fortieth day:
Unrecognized,  uncomely, plain and drear,
The kind of shade you looked for, by the way!
 
With  time your  grieves and sorrows  will fade out,
And you will humbly  want to start another life
With  dreams  and tales you cannot do without Ö
For simple beauty you will wish and strive.
 
He will turn up,  well-known, long awaited,
To wake you up  from  the unearthly rest.
And spring,  the last one,  so anticipated,
Will  take you to another  world, so blessed
 
And I will die,  forgotten by you, darling,
The day your new companion comes to stay,
The moment you decide to tell him, smiling,
That all your pains and troubles are away.
 
You will forget my name and  burial moundÖ
But then -  you will wake up and see itís dark.
Caressing him, youíll suddenly come round,
Remember me  and ask me to come back!
 
Devoutly, youíll  stretch your hands, my dear,
At night, so desolate, my poor heart of gold!
Alas,  the sounds of life donít  reach the ear
Of those consoled by  the unknown world.
 
You will condemn, afflicted and austere,
Your life that left no chance to love for you!
But in my verse youíll find the answer, dear:
Its hidden warmth will help you live anew.
 
December 15th, 1913
 
 
      The  Double
One day in foggy October
I walked  recollecting  a song,
(The instance of kissing  all over!
Caresses that cannot be wrong!)
At  last  in  the foggy October
There came  the forgotten song.
 
I dreamed I was young and not worried,
And you were as live as a bloomÖ
My dream took me  out and carried
Away from the wind, rain and gloomÖ
(Thatís how  by our dreams we are scurriedÖ
So will you come back, live as a bloom?)
 
And  then, emerging from darkness,
A  staggering youth,  comes to me.
(Oh what an amazing  likeness
To someone I happened to see!)
Emerging from  foggy  darkness,
A  staggering youth,  comes to me.
 
ďIím tired of roaming  - he grouses-
And taking the air, so cold,
Reflecting in  mirrors of others
And kissing those girls,  young and oldÖĒ
I  fancied that some day or other
Iíd meet him again  in this worldÖ
 
Then,  smiling with self assertion,
 He vanished for ever moreÖ
Sad imageÖI had the impression
That  I had  seen it beforeÖ
Perchance it was  me whom I saw
Turn up as a mirror reflection?
 
October,  1909
              ***
At night I was conceived and born.
Oh my! I saw the light:
So mournful was my motherís moan,
So black the hollow night.
 
And when it  cleared  up anew
The day got filled with schemes,
With  lots of  tedious things to do.
Dull, boring  heaps of things.
 
ďWhatever happens,  let it beĒ-
The organ played. Somehow
Since childhood itís been known  to me, -
I am a poet now.
 
Affection blossomed in my curls,
And sorrow still remains.
So many times, so many girls
Have kept me locked in chains.
 
And life went  on the way it should:
Love, poems grief and fun.
The quiet stream took, as it  would,
All in its bed at one.
 
The night was blind, and so was I.
Thatís what I wanted, tooÖ
One day they  dug my  grave - oh my! -
And said:  God be with you!
 
That night  the ice began to break
And flood the river-bed.
I thought the river was awake,
And so  I went ahead.
 
That night  the stream was dark as pitch,
And entering the night
A woman turned up on the bridge
Just like a beam of light
 
She was a living flame on ice,
A flare of wine and snow.
And if you looked into her eyes
What she was like youíd know.
 
She took me gently by the hand
And looked me in the face.
She gave a cover to me and
A ring  with silver  lace.
 
ďStop living, and  donít say a word,
Iím like a ringing storm.
Iím living in a different world,
And yet I am bright and warmĒ.
 
She calls and tempts  me. And I see
Snow has swept up the earth.
Whatís there that rings and sings for me?
Another life? Or death?
 
April 12th, 1907 
                 ***
 
Although I have never loved,
And to  break my oath Iím bound,-
Whenever I see you around
You stir up my soul and my blood!
 
Your hands, they are far and yonder !
Into  these boring days
You bring your charm and your grace
Even when we are asunder!
 
In my abode, not warm,
Desolate, cold and abandoned,
And in my dream ever bounded
I see the forsaken home.
 
I dream about  old instants,
As well as the  bygone daysÖ
It seems that my thoughts and ways
Are bound with your existence!
 
Whoever  might call I wonít come
And have the fussy caresses
Instead of the hopeless cases.
So I withdraw and keep mum.
 
October 8th, 1915
 
                * * *
 
Iím Hamlet. And my blood runs cold
When treachery  is up to scheming;
My only love in the whole wide world.
Is in my heart, among the living.
 
Ophelia,  the cold of life
Has taken you away, my dear;
The prince of Demark , in a strife,
Hit with a blade, I am dying here.
 
February 6th, 1914
                        ***
        He that hath the bride is the bridegroom:
        but the friend of the bridegroom,
        which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly Ö   
                                                                         John, III, 29
I am a boy,  I light a candle
And keep the incense burning on.
Beyond the river, in a huddle,
Sheís laughing in a muffled tone.
 
I like the evening public prayer,
The church up by the river side,
The dusk , the muddy bluish air,
The village in the eventide.
 
Resigning to the tender brows,
Admiring the charm of all
I throw a bunch of  snow-white  flowers
Into the yard, across the wall.
 
And then the  hazy screen will fall and
The bridegroom will step down the shrine.
And from the  forest border onward
The wedding day will break and shine.
 
July 7th, 1902
      ***
The way it used to be, my soul is lighted
By the unfading glow of bygone days.
But early autumn,  like a wistful haze,
Has blown a whiff, despairing and blighted.
Dark night. Weíre going separate ways.
The sound is distinct, the way it used to be,
And all my sins are in your holy prayers.
Ophelia, my nymph, remember me.
My soul is being vainly filled, in trepidation,
With distant and delightful recollection
May 28th, 1900
      * * *
My earthly heart gets cold and all,
But I sustain the shivers boldly.
I keep my love of people fondly,
Unanswered reverence, in my soul.
 
But love is followed by discord
Which ripens into  strong intention
To read  oblivion or award
In menís and ladiesí reflection.
 
Well, let them call. Forget it all!
Go back to your sweet home, you poet!
Oh no! Iíd better freeze and fall!
There is no peace on earth - I know it.
 
1911- February 6th, 1914
***
As I was growing old and fading,
A poet, used to streaks of grey,
I wanted to postpone the ending
The aged men should face some day.
 
A sickly man, a puny creature,
Iím looking for a lucky star,
And in my senile dreams I picture
A lovely image, now so far.
 
Perchance I have forgotten something,
I donít believe in such a lie.
This tremor has aroused nothing.
Iím neither moved nor touched. Not I!
 
These old time silly tales and stories
Have  fascinated me somehow,
But Iíve been bowed by age and worries,
Itís funny, I am a poet nowÖ
 
I donít believe in books and omens
Of silly men of our times!
Damn all those dreams! Damn all those moments
Of my prophetic doggírel rhymes!
 
So here I am, alone and lonely
An angry man, decrepit, sickÖ
I  stretch  my hand and with a quandary
Bend down to pick my walking stickÖ
 
Whom should I trust? Whom should I doubt?
Those doctors, poets, priests and allÖ
If only I could join a crowd
And learn to be a trivial soul!
 
June 4th, 1903, Bad Nauheim
        ***
With inspiration and such sweetness
The princess sang about May.
I said : ďJust wait, my dear princess,
Youíll have to cry for me some dayĒ.
 
She cuddled to me drawing  near
And said: ďOh no, forgive me, pray.
Go fighting sword in hand, my dear.
I will safeguard you on your way.
 
Go. Youíll  come back desplaying boldness
With feeling of your duty done.
I will retain the ice and coldness,
Remaining yours, locked up, at one.
 
The passers-by will stop and stare,
The years will moderately float
There will be rustling in the air
And clear water in the moatÖ
 
Yes, I will meet you, though belated,
Iíll stretch my hand rejoiced, you bet!
My warrior, so long awaited,
With spring upon the spearheadĒ.
 
The haze has fallen on the turret,
The castle, you and everything.
Iím sorry, princess. Iíve been hurried
To find and bring the flaming spring.
 
October, 1906
      ***
With inspiration and such sweetness
The princess sang about May.
I said : ďJust wait, my dear princess,
Youíll have to cry for me some dayĒ.
 
She cuddled to me drawing  near
And said: ďOh no, forgive me, pray.
Go fighting sword in hand, my dear.
I will safeguard you on your way.
 
Go. Youíll  come back displaying boldness
With feeling of your duty done.
I will retain the ice and coldness,
Remaining yours, locked up, at one.
 
The passers-by will stop and stare,
The years will moderately float
There will be rustling in the air
And clear water in the moatÖ
 
Yes, I will meet you, though belated,
Iíll stretch my hand rejoiced, you bet!
My warrior, so long awaited,
With spring upon the spearheadĒ.
 
The haze has fallen on the turret,
The castle, you and everything.
Iím sorry, princess. Iíve been hurried
To find and bring the flaming spring.
                                                   
October, 1906
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