One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Vladislav Khodasevich's "Selected Poems"

Also reading: Khodasevich (a real live book!). Bilingual edition. Translated from the Russian by Peter Daniels. (Maybe I'll put up Daniels' version of "The Monkey" alongside Nabokov's someday. Maybe I'll have some time -- far down the road -- to dabble in the Russian myself.)

Will certainly look more at Nabokov's Pale Fire in relation to Khodasevich's "Ballada."


Khodasevich's "Petersburg":

They gave themselves to sad monotonous
tasks, until their strength was spent.
Half-dead among them, only I
distracted their predicament.

They looked at me and they forgot
their bubbling kettles boiling dry,
the boots of felt that scorched on stoves
-- all listening to my poetry

Then in sepulchral Russian dark
a flowery herald-girl took my hand;
and music's concord was revealed
to me, knocked sideways in the wind.

Mad with visions, over the sheet-ice
on the canal, I'd reach the bank
and slither up the crumbling steps
clutching a piece of cod that stank,

and driving every verse through prose
disjointed in the pull and push,
somehow I grafted the classic rose
to the Soviet briar bush.

11 December 1925

[Translation by Peter Daniels]
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