23 June 2015

Strolling with Gandlevsky / Прогулки с Гандлевским

Sergei Gandlevsky / Сергей Гандлевский (Photo: Dana Sideros)

Strolling with Gandlevsky

Sergei, I recall your Tartar-style yard,
threading back from the Yakimanka,
and your little white boxer lifting his paw
to the old farewell march, the ‘Slavyanka’.

The April-time blah blended in with the brass,
the corpulent tubes blew their noses,
as if we had managed to make a sly pass
into 1913, from those closed-in

Tartar back yards, and rear-entrance ways,
with wind licking over the ice skim,
past trashcan cats with vigilant gaze —
then we waved down a lift (unofficial),

bowled bold through the puddles to Trubnaya Place,
at an inn left a bottle much dryer,
and set free some birds, from one rouble apiece,
and higher, and higher, and higher.

From Sisyphus Redux (2000)

Translator's Notes:

Sergei Gandlevsky (b. Moscow, 1952), the eminent Russian poet. See A Kindred Orphanhood, Translated from the Russian by Philip Metres, Brookline: Zephyr Press, 2003, with a preface by Lev Loseff, ‘Fathoming Gandlevsky’; and Trepanation of the Skull, translated by Susanne Fusso, DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press. 2014. Gandlevsky is the author of one of the most insightful essays on Losev’s poetry, ‘Nezhestokii talant’, in Lev Losev, Stikhi, St Petersburg: Ivan Limbakh, 2012, 5-10.

Yakimanka: a street in central Moscow just south of the river from which the surrounding area takes its name, historically associated with residents of Tartar origin.

The ‘Slavyanka’: original title ‘The Slavic Girl’s Farewell’, a march written in 1912 by the military bandsman Vasilii Agapkin with words about soldiers going off to war; it has remained popular ever since. Hear it here.

Trubnaya Place: a square in north-central Moscow, under which the river Neglinnaya is channelled in a ‘tube’ (truba); hence the name, which here echoes the ‘tubes’ of the military band in stanza 2. From the 1840s to 1924 this square was the site of the ‘bird market’; there was a folk custom of buying a bird here on the Feast of the Annunciation (25 March/7 April), and setting it free.

The translator is deeply grateful to Olga Sventsitskaia for her expert advice about this poem.

(Translation © 2015 G.S. Smith)

Lev Loseff at the Gandlevsky home, Moscow, 1998 / Лев Лосев в гостях у Гандлевских, Москва, 1998 г.
(Photo: G.F. Komarov / Фото Г. Ф. Комарова)

Прогулки с Гандлевским

Сергей, я запомнил татaрский Ваш двор,
извилистый путь с Якиманки
и как облегчался Ваш белый боксер
под звуки «Прощанья славянки».

Так с медью мешался апрельская муть,
так толстые трубы сопели,
как будто в тринадцатый год улизнуть
мы с Вами в апреле сумели —

с татарских задворок, от черных ходов,
где ветром облизана наледь,
под пристальным взглядом помойных котов
удрать, леваку посигналить

и, лихо по лужам к Трубе подруля,
в трактире пузырь раздавивши,
мы птиц выпускали — ценой от рубля
и выше, и выше, и выше.

No comments:

Post a Comment