13 March 2013

Two Translations: The Last Romance / The Last Love Song / Последний романс

M.V. Dobuzhinsky, Summer Garden in Winter, 1921 /  М.В. Добужинский 'Летний сад зимой', 1921

The Last Romance 

                    For Yuz Aleshkovsky

                    The city noise can not be heard,
                    In Neva tower silence reigns!

                                            Fëdor Glinka

Silence hangs o’er Neva’s grim tower.
And yet again, its gilding’s slick.
Here comes a woman all alone.
And yet again, she’s up the stick.

The moon’s round face reflects all that,
as sung by endless hosts of poets:
not just the sentry’s bayonet
but many other things with points.

The Admiralty needle glints,
and local anaesthetic seeps,
instantly freezing all it hits—
the place where Russia used to be.

This state of numbness suits them fine:
the aborted foetus on its way,
the aborted father full of wine
who’s been blind drunk since break of day.

Miscarried Christmas soon arrives;
shortage of firs for party mirth.
This land of empty skies and shelves
will not bring anything to birth.

The Summer Garden’s died the death.
Back goes that woman, feeling ill,
with bloodied lips, and out of breath.
The Neva tower is empty still.

(Translation © G.S. Smith)

The Last Love Song

                    To Yuz Aleshkovsky

                    Unheard is the city’s noise,
                    Quiet are the towers across the Neva.

                                                           F. Glinka

All is still above the Neva tower.
Once again it’s turned to gold.
There’s a woman riding alone.
Once again she’s knocked up.

All is reflected in the face of the moon
(praised in song by swarms of poets) –
not only the sentry’s bayonet,
but many other sharp instruments.

The syringe of the Admiralty flashes,
and the local anaesthetic
instantly extends to the borders
and numbs the place where Russia once was.

The numbness suits quite well
not only the premature baby in the womb,
but its premature father too,
plastered drunk since morning.

We’re in for a stunted Christmas,
cause of death: a lack of fir trees. 
In the land of empty skies and shelves,
absolutely nothing will be born.

A glimpse of the dead Summer Gardens.
There’s the woman coming back.
On her swollen lips are teeth marks.
And the Neva tower is empty.

(Translation © Henry Pickford)

Последний романс 

                    Юзу Алешковскому 

                    Не слышно шуму городского,
                    В заневских башнях тишина! 


Над невской башней тишина.
Она опять позолотела.
Вот едет женщина одна.
Она опять подзалетела.

Все отражает лунный лик,
воспетый сонмищем поэтов, —
не только часового штык,
но много колющих предметов.

Блеснет Адмиралтейства шприц,
и местная анестезия
вмиг проморозит до границ
то место, где была Россия.

Окоченение к лицу
не только в чреве недоноску, 
но и его недоотцу,
с утра упившемуся в доску.

Подходит недорождество,
мертво от недостатка елок.
В стране пустых небес и полок
уж не родится ничего.

Мелькает мертвый Летний сад.
Вот едет женщина назад.
Ее искусаны уста.
И башня невская пуста. 

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