Електронна бібліотека/Поезія

Це не сніг...Сергій Пантюк
Розумієш, дельфін такий же хижак...Артем Полежака
Це буде вимовлено колись уперше...Сергій Жадан
Великі малі зустрічіВіктор Палинський
Навчатись відчувати...Григорій Штонь
В термітниках великих міст...Григорій Штонь
Хльости і шерех потопельних вод...Григорій Штонь
Квартирою снують струмки надвірної жаріні...Григорій Штонь
Мене хтось мстиво попередив...Григорій Штонь
Зле чуєшся, коли...Григорій Штонь
Кинджально довгі трасові вогні...Григорій Штонь
Удосвіта на прирічковий пастівник...Григорій Штонь
Cеред досвітніх близькоземних зір...Григорій Штонь
ЛюбовГригорій Штонь
Добу тому...Григорій Штонь
Природа - Храм...Григорій Штонь
Коли нема кому сказати: "Ти чарівна...."Григорій Штонь
Тиша співає...Григорій Штонь
Стрибок від осені до весни...Дмитро Лазуткін
Вино осінньої печаліВіктор Вербич
Зміниться все. І навіть незмінність тепла...Сергій Жадан
Таке, ніби – вчора...Микола Гриценко
Таке, немов всечассю свідок...Павло Вольвач
…хай скаже тепер, або замовкнеСергій Жадан
Під соснамиВіктор Палинський
О.Ч.Мар´яна Савка
Вчора почався вересень і вона...Сергій Жадан
боже я все ще дитина...Мар´яна Савка
ВіршіСергій Таран
Ночей серпневих шоколад гарячий...Ігор Павлюк
На цвинтарі (з книги "Ніж"Тіль Ліндеманн
І не розповіли головного...Сергій Жадан
зафарбуємо годинник будем жити так як хочем...Тарас Федюк
Завантажити

INTERNATIONAL POETRY
REVIEW
VOL. XXXVI FALL 2010 Number 2
Editor
Mark Smith-Soto
Guest Editor
Michael M. Naydan
Associate Editors
Matt McNees
Matt Mullins
Consulting Editors
Margo Bender
Roberto Campo
David Fein
Verónica Grossi
Christian Moraru
Anna Pani McLin
Susan Shelmerdine
Carmen Sotomayor
Founding Editor
Evalyn Pierpoint Gill


Founded in 1975 by Evalyn Pierpoint Gill and dedicated
to her idea that "the world will be a better place as we
cross language barriers to hear the voice of the poet in
different countries," International Poetry Review features
poems from contemporary writers in all languages, with
facing English translations. A portion of every issue is
dedicated also to work originally in English.
Cover: “Dance on a Fence,” oil on canvas,
by
Mykola Kumanovsky
© 2010
Cover design by Ruth Katzenstein
INTERNATIONAL POETRY REVIEW is published in the spring
and fall of each year. Copyright © 2010 by INTERNATIONAL
POETRY REVIEW. Annual subscriptions: individuals $12.00;
institutions $20.00. Postal surcharge of $2.00 for foreign
subscriptions. Manuscripts with SASE and all other
correspondence to INTERNATIONAL POETRY REVIEW,
Department of Romance Languages, The University of
North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27402-
6170. http://www. uncg.edu/rom/ IPR/IPR.htm. Email
contact: mismiths@uncg.edu. IPR is indexed in the
Humanities International Complete Index and is available
on electronic database through EBSCO.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
International Poetry Review is fortunate to count
among its continuing supporters the following
friends of poetry:
PATRONS
(from $100)
Anonymous
Fred and Susan Chappell
David and Zita A. Smith
BENEFACTORS
(from $50)
Peter Dola
Ann Smith
FRIENDS
(from $25)
Maria H. Schilke
…………………………………………………………………..
This publication was made possible thanks to the financial
support of the Shevchenko Scientific Society, USA, from
the Ivan and Elizabeta Khlopetsky Fund.

About This Issue…
We are very much indebted to Dr. Michael M. Naydan,
Woskob Family Professor in Ukrainian Studies and
Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at The
Pennsylvania State University, for all his work in
bringing our readers this introduction to contemporary
Ukrainian poetry. Our gratitude also to the Shevchenko
Scientific Society, USA, for its invaluable financial
support.

CONTENTS
Michael M. Naydan:
Twenty-Five Years of Ukrainian Poetry ................................7
Attila Mohylny...............................................................................10
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.......................................11
Nazar Honchar ...............................................................................14
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.......................................15
Ihor Rymaruk.................................................................................20
Translated by Svitlana Bednazh...........................................21
Translated by Mark Andryczyk ...........................................23
Oleh Lysheha .................................................................................26
Translated by James Brasfield with Oleh Lysheha..............27
Natalka Bilotserkivets....................................................................34
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.......................................35
Oksana Zabuzhko ..........................................................................40
Translated by Olha Tytarenko..............................................41
Vasyl Herasymiuk..........................................................................44
Translated by Svitlana Bednazh...........................................45
Viktor Neborak ..............................................................................48
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.......................................49
Translated by Mark Andryczyk ...........................................51
Ivan Malkovych .............................................................................54
Translated by Mark Andryczyk ...........................................55
Yuri Andrukhovych .......................................................................58
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.......................................59
Translated by Sarah Luczaj..................................................61
Serhiy Zhadan ................................................................................64
Translated by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps .................65
Vasyl Makhno................................................................................68
Translated by Orest Popovych .............................................69
Kost Moskalets ..............................................................................78
Translated by Mark Andryczyk ...........................................79
Ludmyla Taran...............................................................................80
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.......................................81
Maria Rewakowicz ........................................................................84
Translated by Svitlana Bednazh...........................................85
Maryana Savka ..............................................................................86
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.......................................87
Translated by Mark Andryczyk ...........................................89
Oles Ilchenko .................................................................................92
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.......................................93
Borys Shchavursky ........................................................................96
Translated by Larysa Bobrova .............................................97
Hanna Osadko..............................................................................100
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.....................................101
Translated by Larysa Bobrova ...........................................101
Mariya Tytarenko ........................................................................102
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.....................................103
Translated by Olha Tytarenko............................................105
Iryna Shuvalova ...........................................................................106
Translated by Michael M. Naydan.....................................107
Bohdana Matiyash .......................................................................110
Translated by Dzvinia Orlowsky and Bohdana Matiyash .111
POETRY IN ENGLISH
Samuel Gray ................................................................................116
Michael Dennison ........................................................................117
Kirk Nesset ..................................................................................119
Ulf Kirchdorfer ............................................................................120
ON TRANSLATION
Fred Chappell:
Boom! Clank! David Slavitt’s Freehearted Art of
Translation….....................................................................122
CONTRIBUTORS.......................................................................154

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF UKRAINIAN POETRY
(1985-2010): NEW VOICES WITH THE FREEDOM
TO CREATE
This collection of Ukrainian poetry in translation
comprises a representative sampling of the poetry created
under twenty-five years of creative freedom for Ukrainian
writers that began during Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev’s
policy of “openness” and that has continued to flourish after
Ukrainian independence in 1991. It begins with the
innovations of poets such as Yuri Andrukhovych and Viktor
Neborak and their neo-romantic, neo-gothic, neo-futuristic,
and often parodic Bu-Ba-Bu literary performance group that
began in the mid-1980s, and ends with some of the newest
voices in Ukrainian poetry, who are making their debut in
English translation in this collection. The oldest writer
presented here is 62 (Oleh Lysheha), the youngest 24 (Iryna
Shuvalova). All of these poets emerged in the public eye in
this period of freedom from censorship. The issue also
represents both poets in Ukraine as well as those in the
emigration, which, together, through the Internet and extensive
travel back and forth across the Atlantic, have become more of
a fluid continuum and not separate entities as they once were
during Iron Curtain times.
Despite the lack of governmental support for
publication, poetry is flourishing in Ukraine, with scores of
new and talented writers, many of them performing at public
readings and debuting on a plethora of Internet sites. Many of
these poets’ works have infiltrated popular music in songs by
groups such as Jeremiah’s Cry (Plach Yeremiyi) and Dead
Rooster (Mertvyi piven), thus creating an even wider audience
for their poetry. Yuri Andrukhovych’s “The Griffin,” Natalka
Bilotserkivets’ “We’ll not Die in Paris,” Kost Moskalets’s
“She,” and Viktor Neborak’s “The Flying Head,” among
8
others, have become classic works of contemporary Ukrainian
music. Regrettably, limitations of space do not allow us to
include many poets in this collection—both younger and
older—who would be just as worthy of inclusion. That is
always the constraint of any anthology. Thus major older
generation poets who became prominent earlier in Soviet times
such as the Poets of the Sixties (Lina Kostenko, Ivan Drach
and Vasyl Stus) have been excluded as a result of the time
frame chosen. All the translations included in this issue are
appearing for the first time.
The dramatic shift from traditional rhymed and
metered verse to free verse in Ukrainian poetry has been a
quite striking phenomenon over the past quarter century. Both
established poets, who previously had written in traditional
forms, as well as younger poets, who have grown up entirely
outside the watchful eye of Soviet censorship, have made that
shift. This exciting period in Ukrainian literature has led to a
renewed energy and experimentation with literary forms, as
well as a great influx of foreign literature in the original and in
translation, which was largely restricted in Soviet times. The
literary experiments that were brutally cut off by Stalin in the
late 1920s and early 1930s, called the "executed renaissance"
by Ukrainian critic Jurij Lavrinenko, when some 750
Ukrainian writers were executed, imprisoned or exiled, have
taken root after a nearly six-decade hiatus. The recent past,
present and future of Ukrainian literature seem bright, with
scores of young writers emerging in an environment of
complete creative freedom. Hopefully, that environment will
continue despite warning signs of a stifling new regime in
political control of the country. The genie of creative freedom
has been let out of the bottle and, following this lengthy period
of independence, would be impossible to put back.
*
This IPR anthology of Ukrainian poetry is dedicated to
three Ukrainian poets who died all too early in their creative
lives. The poet and children’s writer Attila Mohylny (1963-
9
2008) perished in Kyiv on September 3, 2008 at the age of 45.
The poet and editor Ihor Rymaruk (1958-2008) succumbed on
October 3, 2008 at the age of 50 after being struck by a car on
the streets of Lviv in western Ukraine. And performance poet
Nazar Honchar (1964-2009) died of a heart attack at the age of
45 while swimming at a lake outside of Uzhorod on May 21,
2009. I personally knew all three of these poets well and have
previously published translations of their works. They will be
greatly missed by family, friends, and by all those who knew
their poetry. A traditional Ukrainian vichnaya pamyat (eternal
memory) to them as their voices continue to live on in their
works.
*
No endeavor of this scope can be made without the assistance
of many others. I´d especially like to thank Viktor Neborak,
Svitlana Bednazh, Larysa Bobrova, Ludmyla Taran, Mark
Andryczyk, and Nataliya Shtchyrba for their kind assistance in
putting this anthology together in a relatively short time frame.
Extra special thanks to James Brasfield for his friendship,
editorial suggestions and dedication to the project. A
Ukrainian “great thanks” (velyke spasybi) to Mark Smith-Soto
and Matt McNees of IPR for their efforts on behalf of this
issue and also to Shevchenko Scientific Society of New York
for their generous support.
Michael M. Naydan
Woskob Family Professor of Ukrainian Studies
The Pennsylvania State University
10
Attila Mohylny
ЧОРНІ ОЗЕРА
Цикл
1.
Я не відаю, що творю:
лінія снів—
прокреслена між минулим і мною,
але повертаюсь в минуле, туди,
де катери вперше
входять у води затоки:
під жовтим листям—
свинець і сталь а згори—
катери вайлуваті
і шелест води біля борту.
Я люблю тебе, моя любов
Туман осідає
важкими краплями на метал.
Піди зі мною
щоб я не повернувся:
осінь—
це спалах узлісь у тумані
і стрімкі силуети катерів,
спрямовані все далі.
2.
Залишається мелодія і сум.
Глянь,
це ти і я,
11
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
BLACK LAKES
A Cycle
1.
I´m not conscious of what I’m doing:
a string of dreams
drawn between the past and me,
but I’m returning to the past
where cutters first
enter the waters of a bay
beneath yellow leaves—
lead and steel, and from above—
the sluggish cutters
and the stirring of waters near the hull.
I love you, my love.
Fog settles
in heavy droplets on metal.
Go with me,
so that I do not return.
Autumn—
this is the flare of the forest edge in the fog
and the fast-moving silhouettes of the cutters
set off into the distance.
2.
Melody and sorrow remain.
Look,
this is you and I,
12
це той день,
в якому ми любимо одне одного,
це світ,
де голоси нашої юності
натянули сталеві троси
над затокою,
над катерами з обдертою фарбою,
над поїздами що повезли перших.
Зійди на цей міст,
і назвімо його пам‘яттю.
Коли підуть останні
залишиться тільки сум,
наче вино настояне на травах:
вікно—це неминучість скла,
перед яким зупиняємося.
3.
Місто вночі—
озеро для птахів перелітних.
Вони опускаються в його вогні,
і вода тіней
змикається над ними.
Прокидаючись опівночі бачимо:
сірий морок притрусив місто,
наче попіл жарини багаття.
Спалахуємо крізь них.
Проведи мене цією стежкою
леза мечів
залишають свої гнізда
(час вирію—час прощань):
13
this is that day
in which we love one another,
this is a world
where the voices of our youth
stretched steel rigging
over the bay,
over the cutters with paint scratched off,
over trains that brought the first ones.
Disembark onto this bridge
and let’s call it memory.
When the last ones go,
only sorrow will remain,
like wine steeped in herbs:
a window—this is the inevitability of glass
in front of which we stop.
3.
The city at night
is a lake for migrating birds.
They descend into its lights,
and the water of shadows
closes above them.
Waking up at midnight we see:
a gray gloom strewn over the city
like the ashes of the embers of a bonfire.
We blaze through them.
Lead me along this path:
the blades of swords
leave their nests
(the time for flying south—the time for partings):
14
надто похмура рать,
але маю бути там.
Рух рядами,
наче прокинувся звір:
чорнота сталі
створює відображення озера
В глибині вод—
течія прозора
і затока осіння,
засипана листям барвистим.
………………………………………………………………
Nazar Honchar
Серед зими я вибрався в мандрівку.
В дорозі мерз—не дивина.
А в поїзді додому
загрівся
і забув, що був мороз…
Але мороз про мене пам’ятав:
чекав мене, тріскучий на пероні—
от тобі й на!
Я спересердя плюнув—
трісла
губа—
я спересердя
усміхнувся
*
Символізми,
і містифікації,
і фантазії,
та інше і т.д.—
15
an all too gloomy host,
but I must be there.
The movement in rows
as though a beast had awakened:
the blackness of steel
creates reflections on the lake.
In the depth of the waters—
a transparent flow
and an autumnal bay
strewn with multicolored leaves.
…………………………………………………………………
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
In the middle of winter I set off on a trip.
I froze on the way—no surprise there.
But on the train home
I warmed up
and forgot about the frost…
But it remembered me:
it was waiting for me, pinching on the platform—
there it is for you!
I spit in anger—
my lip
split—
in anger
I smirked.
*
Symbolisms,
mystifications,
fantasies,
and other things, etc.—
16
це чуже мені:
за правду я,
хоч гірка, хоч кисла, хоч солона…
хоч яка, а все одно як шило,
що його не заховаєш у мішку.
Вчора я в гноївку впав—
ледве виліз,
а відмитися не можу:
не допомагають аромати,
ті, що ллю на себе,
мого смороду
вам, може, і не чути,
але я не криюсь,
я не криюсь, ні.
*
коли в віршову гальбу
налити пива поезії
спочатку зверху видно
тільки піну слів
17
are all foreign to me:
I’m for truth,
though it’s bitter, though it’s sour, though it’s salty…
however it might be, all the same it´s like an awl
you can’t hide in a bag.
Yesterday I fell into a manure puddle—
I was barely able to crawl out,
and can’t wash it off:
fragrances don’t help,
neither the ones I pour on myself,
nor the ones I drink.
A chronic head cold
also doesn’t help…
You, maybe, can’t smell
my stench,
but I don’t hide,
no I don’t.
*
when you pour the beer
of poetry into a pitcher
from the top at first you see
just the foam of words
18
ВІДПИСУЮ КО’ДОСИНУ
ЧИЙ ДРУГ ВАН ВЕЙ
кажуть нам
нам відкриті
всі двері-дороги
не знаю
скільки суджено нам дверей
а дорога—одна
one way
19
I WRITE AN ANSWER TO KO’DOSYN1
WHOSE FRIEND IS WANG WEI
they tell us
all the doors and roads
are open to us
I don’t know
how many doors are fated for us
but the road—is one
one way
1 Honchar has in mind several references with the name
Ko´Dosyn. First, that is the nickname of his schoolhood friend
Kostya Dosyn. The name also suggests Doshin So (1911-1980),
the Japanese master of the martial arts and founder of the Shorinji
Kempo religion. He acquired his training from 17 years of study
with the Shaolin Zen masters in China and built up a large
following in Japan based on it. With Wang Wei Honchar
probably has in mind the actor Wang Lung Wei who stars in
Gordon Liu´s Hong Kong martial arts film Shaolin & Wu Tang
(1981) and not the renowned 8th century male Chinese poet and
painter (699-759) or the 17th century poet-prostitute by the same
name. "One way" is in English in the original, presumably for the
sound similarity between "Wang Wei" and "one way" in English.
This is a long note on a short poem, but it certainly shows the
complexity of and playfulness in Honchar´s compact but meaningfilled
verse.
20
Ihor Rymaruk
КСЕРОКОПІЯ
ми будемо жити
на тихому-тихому березі
в дитячій іще не наляканій
єресі неначе у Форосі
в еросі недремний наш страж
нескінченний наш серпень
відбитки засмаглого тіла твого
роздрукує на теплім піску як
на ксероксі тайнопис
солодкий клинопис коліна
і лікті і вузлики
гулкі переповнені віщими знаками
вулики допоки в медовій імлі
у знемозі я наше несправжнє минуле
як Трою розкопую
читає при місяці янгол піщану
твою ксерокопію
*
Чорна чаша наповнена вщерть,
і воістину нас небагато—
що ж сорочку, пошиту на смерть,
одягаєш на свято?
Перевідано друзів і рід…
сатаніють в кишені дукати—
21
Translated by Svitlana Bednazh
XEROX COPY
We will live
on a tranquil shore
in a child’s still uninhibited
heresy as if we were in phoros2
in eros our watchful guard
our never ending August
imprints of your suntanned body
will print cryptography on the warm sand
as though on a xerox
sweet cuneiform, knees
elbows and tiny nodules
buzzing overflowing with prophetic signs
beehives still in a honey haze
in exhaustion I dig up our delusive past
like Troy
in the moonlight an angel reads the sandy
xerox copy of you
*
A black chalice full to the brim,
truly there are few of us,
are you putting on the shirt
sewn for your funeral for the holiday?
Having known friends and family....
ducats in your pocket rage satanically—
2 Athens was paid a tribute called phoros by the Delian
League for protection against Persian enemies.
22
ти виходиш у світ із воріт
воріженька свойого шукати,
щоби ніч празникову оцю
з ним удвох протинятись шинками
й наостанок шматками свинцю
обмінятись, немов крашанками…
………………………………………………………………
ТЕМНІ ЛЕГКІ СНІГИ
Входиш у хмару.... Правда, уже не важко?
І найсильніших гори збивали з ніг.
Глицею й димом дихаєш.... ніби пташка, хмару згортаєш....
пахне й темніє сніг.
Страшно за тебе: вперше верхами сходиш у безгоміння....
Може, не варто вниз?—
вистачить тиші нам на віки,
свободи ж—на безконечність.... поки дотліє хмиз.
Потім—у безвість.
Виграєм цей двобій ми—не найсильніші?!
Гострих лісів пруги
кинуть у хмару!—
мов у мохи.... в обійми....
Руки—під ранок—темні легкі сніги.
23
you exit from the gates into the world
to look for your enemy,
so that on this festive night
you can hang out in pubs with him
and in the end exchange bits of lead
like painted Easter eggs....
………………………………………………………………………………...
Translated by Mark Andryczyk
DARK, AIRY SNOWS
You enter a cloud…much better now, isn’t it?
For mountains have toppled even the mightiest.
Breathing in pine needles and smoke, like a bird, you roll up the
cloud—
the snow smells good and darkens.
I fear for you: it’s your first time rising into stillness…
perhaps you shouldn’t descend?—
there’s enough silence here forever,
and freedom—for eternity…till embers no longer glow.
And then—into the unknown.
We’ll win this duel, for we’re—not the mightiest?!
The tips of the spiky forests
will toss you into a cloud!—
as though into moss… into embraces…
Arms at morning—dark, airy snows.
24
*
Тут не знайдете мене ви.
В найглухішому кутку
маю море я серпневе
й точну дату на квитку.
На удачу є підкова,
на рибину—рвана сіть....
Зрідка слово випадкове
їжаком прошурхотить.
Проглядає тут крізь воду
кожен камінь і молюск.
За голодну душу глоду
як умію помолюсь,
за чужу: поперла в хащу—
а витала б між олив....
От лише свою пропащу
не втолив, не відмолив.
Солодкаві, мов цукати,
і гіркіші від цикут—
ви лишіть мене шукати:
я недовго буду тут.
Знову я втечу, панове,
і в тамтешній темноті
небо матиму тернове
й точну дату на хресті.
25
*
You won’t find me here.
In the quietest of corners
I have the crescent sea
and an exact date on my ticket.
A horseshoe for good luck,
for fishing—a torn net…
Now and then a chance word
rustles about like a hedgehog.
Every pebble and mollusk
is visible through the water.
For a hungry hawthorn soul
I’ll pray as I can,
for one strange to me: having wandered into the thicket—
instead of soaring between the olives…
But my own demise
I didn’t abate, I didn’t pray away.
Sweetened like candied fruit
but more bitter than hemlock—
you should cease your search for me:
I will not be here long.
I will escape again, you all,
and in that darkness
I will have a sky of thorns
and an exact date on my cross.
26
Oleh Lysheha
ЧЕРЕПАХА
Нюхом я чув—десь тут має бути гриб!
Дуб, мох, вологого—десь тут..
Я відійшов кілька кроків убік і рвучко обернувся—
Маневр, щоб не встих заховатись у траві..
За кущем хтось принишкнув.
Я опустив голову, знов пішов ніби далі,
Але все ближще, ближче .. ні, то не дубовий лист ..
Не камінь .. якась бронзова посудина? ..
На високо збитій моховій подушці,
Якраз де впало сонце, розкинувши лапи,
Лежала черепаха.
Може чиясь? .. ніде нікого.. справді, дика..
Якосьще малим раз бачив у Запоріжжі,
В гнилій затоці..
А ця тут. У витоптаному лісі..
Я взяв на руки—
Ніжній панцир такий прохолодний..
Кістяна пластина, але жива..
я би тримав таку ношу вічно,
Аби ти тільки казала, куди тебе нести..
Кістка бліднувата, вичовгана, як долоня—
Мабуть же, там вирізьблені лінії любові,
І дорога, і смерть..
27
Translated by James Brasfield with Oleh Lysheha
TURTLE
I picked up a scent—a mushroom ought be here, somewhere..
Oak, moss, dampness—it’s here someplace..
I stepped just off the path and turned around quickly—
As not to let it hide in the grass..
Someone fell silent behind a bush.
I lowered my head, and walking as if farther on,
Yet ever closer, closer.. No, not an oak leaf..
Not a stone.. Some bronze vessel?..
Perched on a deep cushion of moss,
Just there, under a shaft of late sunlight,
Lay the turtle.. Somebody’s, perhaps..
Yet nobody in sight.. Indeed, it was wild..
Once as a child I saw one in Zaporizhya,
In a marshy stream.. But here,
Thi s one, in these trampled suburban woods,
I held close to me—
Its under-armor, so cool to the touch..
A boney plate, yet alive.
I would’ve carried it like that all my life,
If only it would have told me, no matter where it was going..
The pallid shell, summoning, smooth as the palm of a hand—
Certainly, lines of love were chiseled there,
And life’s roads and death..
28
Я опустив її знов на мох
І, не оглянувшись, пішов.
..Кілька днів по тролейбусах, в метро
На правій долоні відчував її прохолоду—
А робота для рук завжди знайдеться—
Пилячи, строгати, місити глину..
Мене знов потягнуло до лісу,
Але, проблукавши день,
Так і не знайшов тої місцини.
При дорозі в сутінках маячів мурашник.
Я присів навпочіпки
І низько нахилив над ним лице..
Бистрі, мелодичні мурашники, здавалось,
Тягали в нору під землею гострі цвяхи..
І раптом моя права долоня
Ніби зовсім окремо від руки впала іж них..
Я не зміг її підняти, чужу, і вона там заклякла,
Обліплена залізними кристалами,
Покірна, груба, неповоротка,
Далеко від мого обличчя із заплющеними очима..
А бачите, таки не просто прокусити
Мою волячу шкуру..
Як з глибокого колодязя, потроху запульсувала
Жилами комашина отрута..
Кусайте, кусайте, я стерплю..
..Ранком , прокинувшись,
Одразу обдивився долоню—
Бліда, мляво натягнута шкіра,
З’їдена милом і роботою..
А може, то приснилось, що вона тримала на собі,
Як на моховій подушці,
Покраплену листям і сонцем істоту..
Але нащо тоді вчора кинув її в ту озлоблену нору
Поміж мурашок?..
29
I placed it back on the moss
And not turning round I walked away..
For days on the subway, on the bus,
My right palm sensed coolness
And yet a hand always finds a job—
Sawing, planing, or kneading clay..
Days later, I felt I had to return to the woods,
But wandering all day there,
Back and forth, I couldn’t find the exact spot.
Then at dusk, far off by the path an anthill..
I kneeled there and leaned in close..
Bustling, methodical ants were pulling what seemed
Sharp nails into their earth mound..
And suddenly, as if altogether
Separate from my arm, my right hand fell among them..
I couldn’t lift it, so strange, and it stiffened there,
Subdued, rough, clumsy,
Covered with the iron crystals..
With eyes closed, my face felt far away.
And yet it wasn’t easy for those ants to bite
My leathery skin..
Their venom as from a deep well
Started pulsing slowly..
Bite, go on, I thought, I’ll endure it..
Early the next morning, just after waking,
I examined my hand—
Splayed, its pale, loose skin
Seemed gnawed by work and soap.
Or perhaps it was a dream the hand was keeping to itself
—As if on a cushion of moss.
A sun-dappled creature among the leaves—
Yet why yesterday
Was it plunged in that vengeful mound
Among the ants?..
30
ЖАР
Мене таки спокусив ярмарок.
Там буде весело, багато людей—
Колись-таки треба щось продати—
У мене є кілька невипалених глечиків—
От завтра встану раніше, випалю,
А по по обіді продам..
Ранком пішов мокрий густий сніг,
Але відступатись вже було пізно..
Я почав стягувати на дно яту повалені дерева.
Граб, навіть спорохнявілий,
Всередині був твердий, як кістка,
Він сичав, димів, але вогонь є вогонь..
Обсмалений, чорний, я нарешті відкинув пилку
І розігнувся над розпеченою норою
(Це могло бути покинуте лисяче кубло):
Бухкає полум’я, біліє жар..
Орієнтуватись в часі можна було лише за сонцем,
Але сніг не переставав,
На дні яру він і довгі мокрі стовбури
Віддалили мій вогонь на тисячі кілометрів
Від ярмарку в центрі Києва,
Де ці кілька глечиків—
Хтозна, якби трохи раніше—
Могли б наповнитись копійками..
Але, видко, руки знали їм ціну,
Бо, здерті до крові,
Вирішили подарувати усі ті гроші
Снігові і вогню—єдиним свідкам,
Що мене таки спокусив ярмарок,
Але за такий дар, може, й простять..
Та, присівши далі від полум’я,
Краєм ока зауважив,
Що з’явилися й інші свідки—
декілька млявих,
Але таких зацікавлених мурашок—
31
EMBERS
Yet the market tempted me.
There would be a lot of fun, lots of people—
Someday one should at least sell something–
I had a few clay pots still unfired—
Well, tomorrow, I thought, I´d wake very early, fire them,
And by afternoon I´d sell them..
At daybreak a dense, wet snow began falling,
And already too late to change my mind,
I set out pulling fallen trees into a deep ravine.
A hornbeam, though rotting, was still
Solid inside, like a bone..
It hissed, releasing smoke, yet fire was fire..
Scorched, blackened, I finally put down the saw
And stood over the burning pit
(Perhaps the site was once a fox´s den):
Crackling flames, the glowing embers..
There was no way to tell the time except by sunlight,
But the snow wouldn´t stop falling..
From the bottom of the ravine, snow and tall, wet tree-trunks
Cut my fire off for a thousand miles
From the bazaar downtown in Kyiv
Where those few clay pots—
Who knows, if a bit earlier—
Might have earned a few kopeks..
Yet it seemed my hands knew the real value,
Since worn till they had bled,
They had resolved to give that fortune
To snow and fire—the only witnesses
That the bazaar had tempted me,
And with such an offering, I thought, there would be
forgiveness..
But squatting by the fire,
I saw from the corner of my eye
What seemed to be other witnesses—a few slow moving,
Rather curious ants—
32
Вони так само приглядались до вогню,
Сторожко обмацуючи нагріту землю..
Для них така подія теж могла бути
Неабияким досвідченням в житті—
Отак, блукаючи якось
Коло дальніх лаврських печер,
Надибав у кропиві кістку,
Трохи більшу залюдську, і в її порожнині
Ворушився клубок рудих мурашок..
Значить, сама доля шле мені покупців—
Ну що ж, дивіться—робота вже готова—
Обвугленим дрючком розгрібаю жар..
Більша грудка—глечик,
Він—це людина і одночасно її дім.
На очах міниться її шкіра—
Ця мить в житті найкраща,
Цвіте рум’янець на щоках..
Та от пробігають перші тіні—
Тонко натягнута шкіра тримає жар..
..А тепер ми з вами раптом опиняємось
Всередині дуже хитрого сплетіння:
Згори суцільний сніг, за спиною чорні стовбури,
Лице в сажі, долоні так само,
Під ногами кваша зі снігу й попелу,
А під цим усім трохи нагріта зверху земля..
З такої пастки до ночі не виплутатись..
А тепер дивіться, що роблю:
Поки ще не зовсім потьманів жар—
Беру дрючок і з усієї сили руйную
Навислий над випаленою ямою земляний дах—
33
They too were watching the fire,
Touching cautiously the warmed earth..
Such an event might’ve been
A strange experience for them, much the way I felt
As well, when wandering once
Among nettles
Near the Lavra´s caves, I found a bone,
A bit larger than a human bone, and in its hollow
Swarmed a clump of red ants..
It seemed that fate had sent me customers..
Well, there it was—the work was done—
The first shadows were crossing over..
I spread out the embers with a scorched stick..
The largest clod—a clay pot—
All in one, was of a man and his house.
His skin gleamed as I stared at him—
This the first instant of his life..
A delicate skin stretched tightly still kept the glow,
The blush on his cheeks..
..And suddenly we found ourselves
Within what seemed an intricate plot:
Snow overhead, around me the black drowsy trees,
My face and palms covered in soot,
Under my feet the mush of snow and ash
And below all this, a faintly warmed earth..
One can barely escape such a trap by nightfall..
And now look at me, what is there to do
Before the embers darken—
I grab a stick and with all my strength
Shatter the clay roof bowed over the scorched pit—
34
Землю до землі!
Так одним ударом страшної лапи
Ведмідь при кінці зими обвалює
Свій барліг з усім його теплим сном,
Чесно заробленим безконечними пошуками
І самітництвом..
Чи не здаюсь вам звідти, з пригрітої землі,
Отаким нетерплячим звіром на снігу?..
Чи ти, свідку, чекаєш, поки не впаду,
Щоб нарешті повідомити всіх,
Що мене таки спокусив ярмарок,
Але я не встиг, а що зміг—зруйнував
І загріб жар?..
…………………………………………………………………
Natalka Bilotserkivets
МИ ПОМРЕМ НЕ В ПАРИЖІ
Я помру в Парижі в четверг увечері.
—Сесар Вальєхо
Забуваються лінії запахи барви і звуки
Слабне зір гасне слух і минається радість проста
За своєю душею простягнеш обличчя і руки
Але високо і недосяжно вона проліта
Залишається тільки вокзал на останнім пероні
Сіра піна розлуки клубочиться пахне і от
Вже вона розмиває мої беззахисні долоні
І огидним солодким теплом наповзає на рот
Залишилась любов але краще б її не було
В провінційній постелі я плакала доки стомилась
І бридливо рум’яний бузок заглядав до вікна
Поїзд рівно ішов і закохані мляво дивились
Як під тілом твоїм задихалась полиця брудна
Затихала стихала банальна вокзальна весна
35
Earth to earth!
Thus with his awful paw
The bear at the end of winter
Ruins his den with its dreamy warmth
Earned honestly by endless searches
And solitary wanderings..
Ants, isn´t this what you see of me, from the warmed earth—
Such an impatient beast on snow?..
Or are you, as the only witnesses, waiting till I fall
To inform the others at last
How the bazaar tempted me,
How still I´ve failed to live in time—yet am able to rake out
The glow of embers?..
…………………………………………………………
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
WE’LL NOT DIE IN PARIS
I´ll die in Paris Thursday evening.
—Cesar Vallejo
Forgotten lines scents colors and sounds
Sight weakens hearing goes and simple joy passes
You stretch out your face and hands for your soul
But it flies past way high out of your reach
Just a train station on the very last platform is left
The gray froth of parting continues to swirl and swell
And already is washing away my helpless palms
And a foul sweet warmth creeps onto my mouth
Love lingered, better if it had never been
I cried till I tired in the godforsaken sheets
A sickeningly reddish lilac bush peered faintly through the window
The train steadily moved on and two lovers languidly looked
As the soiled shelf under your body heaved
A prosaic train-station spring grew quiet settling down
36
Ми помрем не в Парижі тепер я напевне це знаю
В провінційній постелі що потом кишитьі слізьми
І твого коньяку не подасть тобі жоден я знаю
Нічиїм поцілунком не будемо втішені ми
Під мостом Мірабо не розійдуться кола пітьми
Надто гірко ми плакали і ображали природу
Надто сильно любили коханців соромлячи тим
Надто вірші писали поетів зневаживши зроду
Нам вони не дозволять померти в Парижі і воду
Під мостом Мірабо окільцюють конвоєм густим
………………………………………………………………
ЛИСТ
Вранці підеш за хлібом і за молоком.
Повертаючись, бачиш поштарку—
виходить із вашого дому.
Як завжди, уявляєш її двох дітей-школярів:
ви, здається, ровесники з нею.
Два десятки синіх поштових скриньок.
Твоя справа внизу за номером 20.
На брелку із ключами крихітний ключик.
Газети, рахунки, листи.
Півтори години сидиш над білим конвертом,
роздивляєшся марки, поштові штампи.
І не можеш ні обрізати, ні надірвати,
розтинаючи літери на зворотній адресі.
Заховай його глибоко, глибоко до письмового столу,
як пелюстки зов´ялої квітки до томика віршів,
як жменьку попелу.
37
We´ll not die in Paris I know now for sure
In the godforsaken sheets teeming with sweat and tears
And no one will give you your cognac I know
We won´t be heartened by anyone´s kiss
Rings of darkness won´t move on under the Mirabeau Bridge
We cried too bitterly unsettling nature
We loved the lovers too strongly embarrassed by this
We wrote too many poems of poets never scorned in our lifetime
They won´t let us die in Paris and they’ll ring
The water with a thick convoy under the Mirabeau Bridge
…………………………………………………………………
THE LETTER
In the morning you go out for bread and milk.
On your way back you see the mail carrier
walking out of your building.
As always you imagine her two school-age kids:
she looks the same age as you.
Two dozen blue post office boxes.
Yours is below on the right behind number twenty.
There´s a tiny key on your keychain.
Newspapers, bills, letters.
For half an hour you sit over a white envelope,
perusing the stamps, the postmarks.
But you can´t cut or tear them off
as you cut out the return address letters.
Hide it deep at the back of your desk drawer,
like dried flower petals in a book of poems,
like a handful of ashes.
38
Якби взяти спалити це тіло, якби залишити
тільки дух, тільки промені Х на рентґені хребта,
тільки юні хребці під невидимою поверхнею,
під чиїмись руками,
що пестять від шиї до стегон.
КУРТКА ТЕЛЯЧОЇ ШКІРИ
Це було, коли імперії догнивали
і останні убиті падали на останні мури,
і ти вперше потрапив по той бік муру—
перестройка, зустріч майбутніх лідерів,
як нам облаштувати Європу та інше бла-бла
на зеленій-зеленій траві європейських університетів.
Залишайся там, якщо зможеш—
казала тобі твоя дівчина;
не вертайся сюди, тут не буде нічого хорошого
(так і сталося, врешті). Але ти повернувся:
в шкіряній жовтій куртці, купленій на товчку в Ліверпулі
за останні п´ять фунтів, заощаджених на автобусах
і платних вбиральнях—
дяка сильним ногам і вечірнім кущам
з гострим запахом дикого жовтого цвіту.
39
If you could just take this body and burn it, if you could
just let the spirit remain, just the rays of an x-ray,
just the young vertebrae beneath an invisible surface,
beneath someone´s hands
that pamper you from your neck to your thighs.
THE CALFSKIN JACKET
It happened at a time when empires were rotting
and the last of those killed fell onto the last walls,
and for the first time you get to the other side of the wall—
perestroika, a meeting of future leaders,
how we can take advantage of Europe and other blah-blah
on the pristine ultragreen grass of Euro universities.
Stay over there if you can—
your girl said to you;
don’t come back here, nothing good will come of it
(it ended up that way). But you returned:
in a yellow leather jacket
bought at a flea market in Liverpool
for the last five pounds you had put aside for buses
and cloakrooms—
thanks to strong legs and the evening bushes
with the sharp scent of a wild yellow color.
40
Ти не міг не купити її—вона вже була ретро;
може їй було навіть усі двадцять років
і котрийсь старий жук одягав її ще в шістдесяті,
і в потертій телячій шкірі лишилися спогади
про комуну і гіпі, про бітлів і маріхуану.
У нагрудній кишені зберігся клаптик паперу
з телефонним числом—це вже зовсім тебе доконало,
бо ж- у принципі—будь-коли можна було задзвонити
і дізнатися, що ж воно сталося
з тим жуком, Полом, Джоном чи Джорджем,
і чому його куртка тепер продається
за п´ять фунтів на блошинім товчку в Ліверпулі.
Твоя дівчина (а це була я) одразу
поклала на неї око—адже
ви могли носити її по черзі;
і було щось зворушливе в зашироких плечах
і задовгих рукавах,
і у запаху справжнього чоловіка,
коли гарна хлоп´яча рука лягала
на її засмаглий плаский живіт
(а вона вже була вагітна, на другому місяці),
і вгорі поміж хмар у жовтій субмарині
пропливали безвинно убиті безмовні телята.
....................................................................................................
Oksana Zabuzhko
НОВИЙ ЗАКОН АРХІМЕДА
“Не руш моїх кіл” (“Μὴ μου τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε”)— так, за
переказом,
мовив занурений у роздуми Архімед римському леґіонерові,
коли римське військо взяло Сіракузи.
NB: коло для давніх греків— не тільки форма запису думки,
а й символ цілости та суверенности духовного життя взагалі.
41
You couldn’t keep from buying it—it was already retro,
it was maybe already twenty or so years old
an old beatle had worn it in the sixties,
there were memories left in the torn calfskin
of a commune and hippies, of the beatles and marijuana.
In the breast pocket there was a scrap of paper
with a phone number—this completely did you in,
because—hypothetically—just about any time you could call
and find out what happened
to that beatle, Paul, John or George,
and ask why his jacket was being sold
for five pounds at a flea market in Liverpool.
Your girl (that was me) immediately
caught her eye on it—though
you could take turns wearing it;
and there was something touching in the really wide shoulders
and the sleeves that were too long.
and in the scent of an actual man,
when a nice boy´s hand
lay on her flat sunburned stomach
(she was already two months pregnant),
and up among the clouds in a yellow submarine
innocently slaughtered silent calves floated past.
.......................................................................................................
Translated by Olha Tytarenko
ARCHIMEDES´ NEW PRINCIPLE
“Don’t touch my circles” (“Μὴ μου τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε”),
The legend goes Archimedes once said while in deep contemplation
to a Roman soldier while the Roman army was besieging Syracuse.
NB: A circle for the ancient Greeks is not just a symbol for
recording a thought,
but one of wholeness and the dominion of spiritual life.
42
Не руш моїх кіл— мої кола тобі не належать.
Ген-ген пароплавчик із морем зшива небосхил,
Потроху штормить, і безлюдніє пляж. Починається
нежить.
Збирай рушники й парасолі— не руш моїх кіл.
Вони самоправні— як в камінь вціловані морем,
Але і зникомі— піском-попід-вітром крихкі…
Як завтра наш світ упаде, мов Содом і Гоморра,
То власне тому, що над міру винищував кіл!
А я свої довго плекала (ховала, ростила…)—
Аж врешті крізь них проступило, мов фосфор, різким,
Що— ні, не бувається ближче, ніж тіло до тіла,
У нашому світі!
Ніколи.
Ні в чому.
Ні з ким.
При чім же тут тіло?! О дзеркало, хто ця кобіта?...
А ти їй смієшся— мов зараз готовий на скін,
І все, що я можу насправді для тебе зробити—
Кохати тебе, як пред Богом і морем: НЕ рушачи кіл!
Про це— всі дерева-і-птахи (лопочучим листям!),
І риби у морі, і звірі у полі— про це ж:
Не руш моїх кіл!— бо нема в них для тебе користі, Бо поза
своїми— нічого в життю не знайдеш!
О, знав-таки мудрий, що каже, що так загаратав
Напаснику в очі— на двадцять потомних віків!...
І мовлю по-еллінськи: “Μὴ μου τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε”—
Мужчинам,
Імперіям,
Часу:
Не руш моїх кіл
43
Don’t touch my circles—they don’t belong to you.
Far away, a tiny ship sews up the horizon to the sea,
It´s stormy, the beach is growing deserted. A head cold´s taking grip.
Collect the towels and umbrellas—but don’t touch my circles.
They’re self-willed, as though imprinted by the sea in stone,
And evanescent—fragile in the sand beneath the breeze…
If tomorrow our world would collapse like Sodom and Gomorrah,
It´s because too many circles have been destroyed.
I’ve long cherished (concealed and nurtured…) my circles—
Till finally something akin to phosphorus passed sharply through
them.
What—no, nothing in our world occurs closer than one body
Pressed to another!
Never.
Not in anything.
Not with anyone.
Why the body here? Mirror, who is this woman?
You smile at her as if you were ready to die
And all I can actually do for you—is love you,
as if before God and the sea—WITHOUT disturbing the circles!
They chatter about this—all the birds and trees (with chattering
leaves!)
—about the very same thing!—the fish in the sea, and the beast in
the field:
Don’t touch my circles!—there’s nothing of use for you there,
Beyond your own circles—you’ll find nothing in life for yourself.
The sage indeed knew what to say in the face of his foe,
his words engraved for the twenty centuries that followed!....
I say it in Hellenic Greek: “Μὴ μου τοὺς κύκλους τάραττε”—
To men,
To empires,
To time:
Don’t touch my circles.
44
У ВАГОНІ МЕТРО
Це подружжя навпроти колишеться згідно, плече до плеча,
О повіках однаково склеплених, як у недужної курки
(Від обвислости варґ в підборіддях— одутлість м’яча,
Що спустивсь одним здихом, проколений— навіть не
муркнув).
Пообіддя, сієста— чи спека— стоїть нагорі:
Не з безсонної ночі їзда, не з любовної змори,
Не втулившись у себе навзаєм аж так, що візьми розірви—
То заточиться світ, і убійнику зробиться сором!—
Висисаючий душу, хиткий, монотонний маршрут,
Вічне поруч-спання з тими самими сірими снами,
Вічна станція Нуд, скільки їдь— вічна станція-Тут—
До кінцевої, котра постійно присутня між нами…
Десь кобіті за тридцять— ну тобто, іще нестара,
Хоч у викоті сукні вже хлянуть підв’ялені дині,
І лице її— пляма цементу, яким заліпилась діра,
Де тунельно висвистує протяг по давній (дівоцькій!)
гордині—
Тільки губи зобиджено-звислі, і в кутиках ледь пузирять
Вигасаючі соки, із тіла втікаючі сили…
Ця кобіта— навпроти: помилено долею ряд—
Це могла б бути я. Коли б вийшла за тебе, мій милий.
.…………………………………………………………
Vasyl Herasymiuk
Я в тебе запитав
дорогу до зірок.
Я не картав себе
за цей небесний порух.
Бо скоро буде мла,
бо скоро буде змрок.
А потім буде ніч,
а потім буде морок.
45
IN A METRO CAR
A married couple opposite me sways in unison, shoulder to shoulder,
Equally riveted eyelids, like that of a sick chicken
(From flabby lips in their chins—the puffiness of a ball
That deflates in a single exhale when pricked—without a
whimper).
The afternoon, a siesta—or the sweltering heat—settles above:
Not from a ride in the sleepless night, or weariness from love,
Not in their mutual nestling that you can tear apart—
The world will be tormented, shame to the murderer!—
This monotonous shuddering route that sucks the soul dry,
Eternally sleeping side-by-side with the same gray dreams,
The eternal station—Ennui, as much as you ride—the eternal station-
Here—
Before the last stop that is always present between us...
The girl’s in her thirties—not that old, really,
Though withering melons waste away in the bodice of her dress,
And her face is the color of cement you use to seal a hole,
Where a draught whistles like a tunnel through her distant
(girlhood!) pride—
Just drooping lips pouting, in the corners of her mouth, barely rising
in a bubble,
Her fading fluids, forces escaping her body…
This girl—opposite me: a line mistaken by destiny—
It could have been me. If I had married you, my dear.
…………………………………………………………….
Translated by Svitlana Bednazh
I asked you
the way to the stars.
I’ve not reproached myself
for this heavenly shift.
Soon there will be haze,
soon there will be dusk.
Then night will come,
then darkness will fall.
46
Ти надійшла мені.
Настала ти мені
на весь мій білий світ,
на темний мегаполіс,
щоб я промчав цю ніч,
як месник на коні—
на голос твій, на зойк,
на голос твій,
на голос.
*
На сіні, що срібліє над кущами,
завмерли дві душі в легких тілах.
Я знаю,
хто прикидав їх пластами.
Нас кличуть, мила,
душі у сінах.
Живе, скажи, чи неживе створіння
тут нипає, стискаючи горби?
Оце, обдерте глодом озвіріння,
оце проміння пекла полюби.
Бо ось надходить мить —
і пахне м´ята.
Барвінок пахне —
забирає зір.
Чужим, навскісним запахом зайнята, —
ти є. Півдухом перловидних нір —
ти є. Паду, німію — все, доволі!
Є ти. І тільки ти. І доки ти —
оці кущі,
потовчені і голі
в своє важке волосся заплети.
47
You’ve drawn near to me.
You’ve entered
my whole wide world,
my dark megalopolis,
so I can rush through this night,
like an avenger on a steed,
led by your voice, by a shriek,
by your voice,
by a voice.
*
Two souls in weightless bodies grew still
in the hay that turns silver above the bushes.
I know
who covered them in layers.
The souls in the hay, my dear,
are calling us.
Listen, is it a creature poking around here,
alive or dead, pressing the hillocks?
Love these illuminations of hell,
this savagery torn by craving.
For the moment arrives—
and it smells of mint.
And of periwinkle—
that takes away your sight.
You are entranced by an indirect foreign scent—
You are the half spirit of pearl-like burrows—
I fall, I grow numb—that’s all, that’s enough!
There is you. And only you. And while you are -
braid these bushes,
broken to pieces and bare,
into your heavy hair.
48
Viktor Neborak
ЗЕМНІ ДУШІ
Це порожнини
гнізда посудини
куди вливається
субстанція світу цього
хижа намагнічена злом
давня як світ
звивиста
переливчаста аж золота
демони
зодягаються в наші тіла
в наші уявлення про себе самих
в нашу сіру речовину
пащекують нашими язиками
переконують нас що вони—
це і є справжні ми
і— д і ю т ь
земні душі
постачають їм живлення
марніють
мертвіють
а ті
поживившись
застрибують
у порожні— щойно з конвеєра—
кабіни
з біснуватого
у стадо свиней
49
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
EARTHY SOULS
These are cavities
of a vessel’s nexus
into which this world’s substance
is poured
predatory drawn by evil
ancient as the world
sinuous
iridescent even gold
demons
dress in our bodies
in our notions about our very selves
in our gray matter
chatter with our tongues
try to convince us they
are truly us
and—act
earthy souls
give them nourishment
wither away
die
and those
who profited
jump
into empty—just off a conveyor—
cars
from one possessed
to a herd of swine
50
ПИСЬМЕННИК
Напередодні Івана Купала
дві тисячі шостого року
посеред білого дня
у Бахмачі
я бачив Володимира Кашку
у подвір’ї його хрущівки
ми з’явилися без попередження
звалились йому на голову
вирулили
в його проспиртований зір
сяйливим лімузином
жодна зморшка
на обличчі Кашки
не зрадила здивування
він стояв сам у собі
навпроти нас прибульців
раптом
заговорив
розкладав перед нами
потріпану мапу свого життя
кожне слово було
як побита батьком дитина
кожне слово було
як схлип
51
Translated by Mark Andryczyk
THE WRITER
the day before Ivan Kupalo3
in two thousand and six
smack in the middle of the day
in Bakhmach
I saw Volodymyr Kashka
in the yard behind his Khrushchev-era apartment building
we showed up out of the blue
intruded on his space
slid
into his alcohol-drenched gaze
in a shiny limousine
not a single wrinkle
on Kashka’s face
revealed his sense of surprise
he stood singularly
across from us the newly arrived
suddenly
he began to speak
he laid out the ragged map
of his life before us
every word was
like a child beaten by his father
every word was
like a sob
3 The church feast of St. John the Baptist, which occurs close to the
summer solstice.
52
ПОЕТ
Для того щоб
Олег Лишега
зміг проспівати
у самому центрі Львова
Пісню 212
про «суперзірок
порослих очеретом»—
Потоцькі збудували палац
совєти його націоналізували
незалежна Україна
дозволила верлібр
Вірляна Ткач познайомилася
з Вандою Фиппс
заяріла мистецька група «Яра»
утворилося видавництво «Срібне слово»
Ольга Лучук вирішила
підготувати до друку
антологію «В іншому світлі»
Нью-Йоркське
Наукове Товариство
ім. Тараса Шевченка
частково профінансувало
це видання
представники
української діаспори
зібрались у Львові
на черговий свій конгрес
Вірляна
прилетіла з Киргизії
а Ванда
з Нью-Йорка
на презентацію
яку оргкомітет призначив
53
THE POET
In order for
Oleh Lysheha to be able to sing
Song 212
About “superstars
overrun with reeds”
in downtown Lviv—
the Potockis built a palace
the soviets nationalized it
independent Ukraine
allowed free verse to exist
Virlana Tkacz met
Wanda Phipps
and forged the Yara Arts Group
the Sribne Slovo publishing house was formed
Olha Luchuk committed herself to preparing
the anthology In a Different Light
the New York branch
of the Shevchenko
Scientific Society
voted to partially fund
this publication
representatives of
the Ukrainian diaspora
gathered in Lviv
for one of their congresses
Virlana
flew in from Kyrgyzstan
and Wanda
from New York
for the presentation
which the organizing committee planned for
54
на 20 червня 2008 року
о 9 год. 30 хв. ранку
в Дзеркальній залі
Палацу Потоцьких
і Олег Лишега
с п і з н и в с я
(на початок на сам початок)
та на щастя
виступ його
був завершальним
……………………………………………………………………
Ivan Malkovych
МУЗИКА, ЩО ПІШЛА
Коли вона плелася в коси—
Чом, скрипко, відвернулась пріч?
Як музику пустила босу
В таку непевну, звабну ніч?
Ох, смиче, теж дививсь куди ти?—
Вже ж сивина спадає з пліч, -
Як босу музику пустити
В таку непевну, звабну ніч?..
Візьму собі землі окраєць,
Піду блукати по світах, -
Хай тільки вітер завиває
В моїх розхристаних слідах...
О мамо, тату, як спитають,
Куди ваш син подався з віч—
Скажіть: він музику шукає,
Що босою пішла у ніч.
55
June 20, 2008
at 9:30 AM
in the Hall of Mirrors
of the Potocki Palace
and Oleh Lyheha
showed up late
(for the start for the very start)
and fortunately
he was the last one
scheduled to appear
……………………………………………………………………
Translated by Mark Andryczyk
THE MUSIC THAT WALKED AWAY
When she was still young, her hair in braids—
Why, violin, did you turn away?
How could you let this music go barefoot,
Into such a strange, seductive night?
O bow, and where were you looking?—
Gray hairs now shedding from her shoulders—
How could you let this music go barefoot,
Into such a strange, seductive night?
I’ll grasp a slice of earth
And go wander through the world—
Let only a light wind blow
Along my scattered path…
Mommy, daddy, if they ask you,
Whether your son has disappeared, out of sight—
Just say: he’s searching for that music,
That barefoot walked into the night.
56
НАПУЧУВАННЯ СІЛЬСКОГО ВЧИТЕЛЯ
Хай це можливо і не найсуттєвіше
але ти дитино
покликана захищати своїми долоньками
крихітну свічечку букви «ї»
а також
витягнувшись на пальчиках
оберігати місячний серпик
букви «є»
що зрізаний з неба
разом із ниточкою
бо кажуть дитино
що мова наша— солов’їна
гарно кажуть
але затям собі
що колись
можуть настати і такі часи
коли нашої мови
не буде пам’ятати
навіть найменший
соловейко
тому не можна покладатися
тільки на солов’їв
дитино
57
THE VILLAGE TEACHER’S LESSON
This may not be the most essential of things,
but you, o child,
are called upon to defend with your tiny palms
the fragile little candle of the letter “ї,”
and also,
stretched out on your tiptoes,
to protect the small crescent moon
of the letter “є,”
which was carved out of the sky
along with a tiny bit of thread.
Because they say, o child,
that our language is like a nightingale’s song.
And they are right.
But remember,
that one day
the time may come,
when our language
will not be remembered
by even the smallest of nightingales.
That is why you cannot depend
just on nightingales
child.
58
Yuri Andrukhovych
ГРИФОН
Мій пане, який нерозумний світ!..
Яка на румовище сходить журба!
Під небом, чорним, ніби графіт,
конаю в піску. І грифон з герба.
З дерев погаслих кричать граки.
Я впав з коня і програв турнір.
Тепер крізь мене ростуть гілки,
пробивши в панцирі триста дір.
Лети ж від мене, монстре знамен,
крилатий леве! Я випав з гри.
З очниці в мене цвіте ромен.
Я не мав меча. То був лютні гриф.
А ту, що чекає, що ймення моï
на грифелі пише в стотисячний раз,
крилом захисти. І замовклу ïï
у землю сховай від облуд і образ.
Чому ж не летиш? На вологім піску
танцюєш довкіл моïх тихих рук.
І п´єш з мене довгу предвічну ріку
ти, схожий на крука. Ти майже крук.
59
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
THE GRIFFIN
My Lord, what a foolish world this is!
What anguish falls over the ruins!
Beneath a graphite sky,
I fall in the sand. A griffin descends from the crest.
Jackdaws crow from the darkened trees.
I´ve fallen from my steed and lost the joust.
Now branches are growing through me,
driving hundreds of shafts through my coat of armor.
Take wing from me, monster of the banners,
Lion with wings! I´ve fallen out of the game.
There are daisies blooming from my sockets.
I had no sword. Just a lute´s fingerboard.
And with my wing I defend the lady who´s waiting,
who´s writing my name on a slate
for the millionth time. Cloak her from deceit and scorn
she who´s grown silent in the earth.
Why aren´t you soaring? You´re dancing around
my stilled arms on the moist sand.
You drink the eternal river from me,
you, so much like a raven. You´re nearly a raven.
60
WERWOLF SUTRA
Німецькою мовою це називається
Hochsitz.
Така дерев’яна будка на підвищенні,
звідки краще стріляється
по кабанах. Деякі кажуть, ніби
по оленях.
Але їх так багато, вони всюди—
ці маленькі сторожові вежі.
Таке враження, що тутешній люд
живе виключно полюваннями або мріями
про полювання.
А ще тут водиться багато лисиць
(одна з них перебігала шосе
першого ж вечора). Їм підсипають чогось такого
від сказу, їм уже не вдасться
сказитися.
А ще ці руїни, ці колишні
військові містечка! Зарослі хвощами
казарми, стрільбище, плац, катепе, капепе,
настінні розписи в гімнастичних залах,
настінні написи в умивальниках і сральниках.
Так і хочеться підняти вказівний палець
і повідомити: “Попіл імперій”.
Тим часом ідеться про речі значно простіші.
О шостій ранку (в Москві була восьма)
їх виганяли з казарм.
Потім увесь той ідіотизм з піснями, фіззарядкою
і вмиванням, довбання мозгів, прибирання
території, розлізле масло сніданку, день до вечора,
сколько днєй до пріказа.
61
Translated by Sarah Luczaj
WERWOLF SUTRA
In German it’s called
Hochsitz.
A kind of tall wooden stand
from which you can shoot
wild boar more easily. Some say,
deer.
But there are so many of them, they’re everywhere—
those small watch towers.
It’s as though the people here
live only for hunting or for dreams
about hunting.
You come across a lot of foxes here
(one of them ran across the highway
on the first night), they spread out
something for them for rabies, so they won’t
go rabid anymore.
And those ruins, those former
army towns! Overgrown with field horsetail,
barracks, shooting ranges, squares, outbuildings, guard posts,
graffiti paintings on the walls of the gyms,
inscriptions on the washroom and shithouse walls.
It’s enough to make you want to raise your index finger
and announce “The Ashes of Empires.”
Meanwhile this is about much simpler things.
At six in the morning (in Moscow it was eight)
they were driven out of the barracks.
Then all that idiocy with songs, fitness training
and washing, messing with their heads, cleaning up
the grounds, rancid breakfast butter, all day long till evening,
as many days till the end of service.
62
Тим часом ідеться
про рядових Мухамедярова, Федотова і Перевертня,
чиї імена навіки (та не навіки ж!)
записані на табличках (буття?) разом з номерами
їхніх камазів.
Федотов був посередині, справа Мухамедяров,
по ліву руку Федотова— Перевертень.
З першими двома все ясно: росіянин, татарин.
Але той третій? Куди з таким прізвищем?
Ніхто не любив Перевертня за вроджену хитрість
і дурне прізвище.
Вони не могли не сміятися з такого прізвища.
Він і сам не знав, що воно означає.
Але німецькою мовою це буде
Werwolf! З чорним піднебінням!
Пострах навколишніх сіл і містечок!
Романтичний герой казок і балад!
О незнищенний, майже безсмертний вовкулако!
Утікай, поки вони зберуться на тебе
облавою! Поки приціляться зі своїх дерев’яних веж!
Дємбєль нєізбєжен! Я вірю, ти зможеш!
Воскресни! Стань собою, Перевертню!
63
In the meantime it’s about
privates Muhamedyarov, Fedotov and Pereverten,
whose names forever (well not forever!)
were written on the blackboards (of being?) along with the
numbers
of their heavy-duty Kamaz trucks.
Fedotov was in the middle, on the right Muhamedyarov,
to Fedotov’s left side—Pereverten.
As far as the first two are concerned it’s clear: Russian, Tatar.
But that third one? Where’s he from with a name like that?
No one liked Pereverten for his innate cunning
and stupid surname.
They couldn’t help but laugh at a name like that.
He didn’t know what it meant himself.
But in German it means
Werwolf! With a black palate!
The terror of all the surrounding villages and towns!
Romantic hero of fairy tales and ballads!
Oh indestructible, nearly immortal werewolf!
Escape before they round you up!
Before they aim at you from their wooden towers!
Demobilization is inevitable! I know you can do it!
Arise! Become yourself, Pereverten!
64
Serhiy Zhadan
МОЛОДШИЙ ШКІЛЬНИЙ ВІК
Це уже вкотре все починається спочатку,
і я говорю так, ніби бачу її вперше -
все як завжди, просто сьогодні надто холодний
вітер в поштових скриньках,
і в сірникових коробках печально дзвенять
жовті монети.
Просто надходить той вік,
коли починають снитись однолітки,
наче час повертається назад, щось забувши.
Скільки їх вижило—цих вічно голодних вовченят?
Всі їхні мандрівки в нікуди
починались, як правило, з центральних вулиць.
Дивитись на життя крізь вікна автостанцій,
померти в дорозі, яка ніколи не закінчиться -
років десять тому ти теж
так часто користувалась
чужим шампунем,
що твоє волосся іноді втрачало
свій власний запах.
А ось тепер сни обриваються
просто в твоєму тілі, як міжміські телефонні розмови,
і липневі автобуси,
крісла в яких пахнуть сандалом і звіробоєм,
повертаються до твого міста,
де кожного літа ти знаходиш
заіржавілі леза у ванній кімнаті
і вуличні автомати з колою.
65
Translated by Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps
PRIMARY SCHOOL
This has started up again for the zillionth time,
but I’m talking as if I’m seeing her for the first time–
everything is like it always was, but today the wind
is freezing in the mailboxes
and copper coins ring sadly
in the match boxes.
You’re simply approaching that time of your life
when you start dreaming of people your age,
as if time ran backwards, searching for something.
How many of those ever-hungry wolf cubs are still alive?
All their journeys to nowhere
usually started on main streets.
To end up watching life from the windows of bus stations,
to die on a never-ending road—
ten years ago you, too,
used someone else’s
shampoo so often
that your hair at times lost
its own smell.
And now dreams break off
in your body like long distance conversations
on buses in July,
their seats smelling of sandalwood and St. John’s Wort
as you return to your town
where every summer you find
rusty blades in the bathroom
and soda machines in the street.
66
Що змінилось? Виросли дерева,
зникли старі кінотеатри
і молочні магазини.
Лише дощова вода все така ж солодка,
особливо коли потрапляє на яблука.
Тоді вони важчають
і довго-довго падають у пісок,
розбиваючись на смерть
під гарячими небесами.
ГУМОВА ДУША
Як будь-яка інша історія,
ця історія добрих дитячих стосунків
поступово добігає кінця.
Підлітки в стані вічної
застуди і закоханості,
котрі намагаються звести до купи
розлоге плетиво подорожніх вражень
врешті вмовкають заворожено
під травневим дощем,
який ховається в їхньому волоссі,
аж його тепер
звідти і не вичешеш жодними гребенями.
Лише потопельники—ці ангели повільних річок,
стоять під водою і
вигинаються за течією,
мов листя морської капусти,
і лише сварливі ворони перебираються з неба
до неба і знуджено дибають
в горішній ріллі,
переносячи на плечах своє домашнє
начиння і смугасті лантухи з пір´ям.
Як будь-які інші речі,
речі з цієї історії насправді
67
What has changed? The trees have grown,
the old movie houses have disappeared
and so have dairy shops.
Only rainwater remains as sweet,
especially on apples
which grow heavy
and fall down down onto the ground
smashed to bits
under the burning sky.
RUBBER SOUL
Just like any other story,
this story of childhood friends
steadily approaches its end.
Teens eternally
have colds and fall in love
as they try to pull together
the vast net of their impressions along the way
till they fall silent, enchanted
by the May rain
that hides in their hair
so you can’t
comb it out no matter what comb you use.
Only the drowned—those angels of slow winding rivers,
stand underwater and
sway with the flow
like seaweed,
and contentious crows who cross from sky
to sky and walk around bored
on the upper furrows
carrying their kitchen ware and
striped sacks with feathers on their backs.
Just like anything else,
parts of this story
68
легко надаються до озвучення,
хоч ви так і не змогли
сказати одне одному про жодну з них.
Аж ось виявляється все так легко і просто -
привиди, що вистромлюють до неї
з дощу
свої риб´ячі обличчя;
кавові зерна, що пускають
коріння
в теплому грунті
її безсоння;
її простирадла, що схожі
на листівки
з відозвами страйкуючих
комітетів.
…………………………………………………………………
Vasyl Makhno
ЖОВТЕНЬ 2008
батьківщина тебе зустрічає уніформою митника
солодким слоґаном задоволеного політика
ґрафіті у якому місцева софістика
димом вітчизни з цигарки запханої в рукав
запахом самогону— студентами у вагоні
кількома горобцями що не дають доїсти вороні
запліснявілий сир— по радіо знову гонять
туфту— смертю Римарука
69
can easily be spoken out loud,
although you wouldn’t say
a word of it to each other.
Suddenly everything seems so simple and easy—
the visions that stream towards her
from the rain,
faces like fish;
the coffee beans, that sprout
roots
on the warm ground
of her sleeplessness,
her sheets that look like
flyers
put out by strike
committees.
…………………………………………………………………
Translated by Orest Popovych
OCTOBER 2008
Your native land welcomes you with the uniform of a customs
official
with a sweetly-sounding slogan of a satisfied politician
the graffiti reflecting local sophistry
the smoke of the homeland from a cigarette tucked into a sleeve
the scent of homebrew—students inside a railroad car
the few sparrows who won´t let a crow finish its snack
moldy cheese—the radio repeatedly spreading
lies—with the death of Rymaruk4
4 Ihor Rymaruk is the prominent Ukrainian poet, who died in 2008.
70
позаду занепала Європа —Берлін й Бухарест
а тут пастух із козами самотній як перст
проводжає потяг—зіпершись об придорожній хрест—
«Тойоти» і «Мерседеси» на переїздах стоять
світлом різким—як хірурги—здійснюють кесарів розтин
Залізничник із прапорцем— чіхається мов від корости—
вчора ледь перебрав — Повернення це так просто
наче змінити стать
після зустрічі із батьківщиною «Львівське 1715»
об’єднує всіх закоханих—консолідує націю
запах пива заповнює вагон і найближчу станцію
наче мобільні дзвінки і присохла сеча
у вагон-ресторан суне гурт неформалів
на запястях тату— сині ружі і мальви -
і спілкуються часто—посередництвом мами -
згадуючи фестиваль і хто скільки раз кінчав
батьківщина в якій всіх цікавлять пристойні бабки
і вживається знак оклику але не ставлять крапки
гетьмани на етикетках і з ковбасою канапки
в підземці—віолончель
поруч Коля горланить своїм баритоном
сутенер б’є по морді повію -(злодій в законі) -
молоденькі менти під покровом Богородиці з ікони
чистять чернь
71
behind you is decadent Europe—Berlin and Bucharest
while here a goatherd as alone as his pointing finger with his goats
accompanies the train—leaning on a roadside cross—
Toyotas and Mercedes Benzes stopped at crossings
with piercing light—like surgeons—they perform а Caesarean
section
a railroader carrying a flag—scratching as if from an itchy scab—
yesterday he had a few too many—Homecoming is as simple
as changing your sex
after meeting your native land the "Lviv 1715" brand of beer
unites all lovers—consolidating the nation
the scent of the beer fills the railroad car and the next station
like the ringing of cell phones and dried urine
a bunch of undesirables pushes into the dining car
tattoos on their wrists—blue roses and hollyhocks
their conversations often peppered with mother words—
recalling a festival and who scored how many times
your native land is where everyone likes hot babes
and uses exclamation points but no periods
hetmans5 on the labels and sandwiches with sausage
in the metro—a violoncello
close by Kolya bellows in his baritone
a pimp punches his whore in the mouth—(he´s a "thief-in-law")
rookie cops under the protection of the icon of the Mother of God
rip off the rabble
5 A Hetman was a Cossack commander-in-chief. Several brands of
Ukrainian vodka are named after Hetmans.
72
так —проходить осінь поверненням й жовтнем
не обмовшись проминанням—ані словом жодним
смиренним поглядом василіянина з Жовкви
що схиливсь при Святім письмі
і мені відкривається книжка—тому що я книжник
знаю що з-поміж братів— блаженних та ближніх -
батьківщина котра існує лиш тиждень
а решта її перейде не в час—а в сніг
ВНУТРІШНІЙ ДВОРИК
вже назбиралося мух і джмелів
-і помідорів -
в пам’ять—за руку—мене перевів
внутрішній дворик:
там я стою по плече будяку
-наче Федьови -
можу знайти собі будь-яку
голку для крови
можу послинити пальця надріз
й чути Джуринку
там молоко від корови і кіз
цямрає в ринку
там повертаються пізні жінки
пси з будяками
73
this is the way autumn and October passes with your homecoming
without detracting by omission—or by any word
with the humble demeanor of a Basilian monk from Zhovkva6
hunched over the Holy Scriptures
I too discover the book of knowledge—because I am a scribe
I know that among my brothers—the blessed and those close to me—
my native land will exist for only a week
while the rest of it will pass not into time—but into snow
THE COURTYARD
by now replete with tomatoes and flies
and bumblebees
the courtyard has led me—by the hand—
down the lane of my childhood memories
there I stand reaching the shoulders of a thistle plant
tall as the shoulders of Fedyo7—
and I can find me any kind
of a needle to make my blood flow
on my finger I can lick a cut
and listen to the Dzhurynka River
that´s where the milk from a cow and the goats
is clanging in a metal receiver
that´s where the dogs are covered in thistle
and women are late coming home
6 Zhovkva is a town in Western Ukraine, where a famous monastery of
the order of St. Basil is located.
7 Fedyo is the name of Vasyl Makhno´s uncle.
74
сині корови летять—й від руки
падає тінь
на камінь
там де дві цятки вузлів від вужа
світло від цери
переспіває луна твоїх жаб
навіть хористів
з церкви
там по Джуринці ширяють ковблі
-срібні червоні гóлки -
їх плавники— паперові рублі
і зашкарубле око
а з-під листка ворухобиться миш
і ескадрильями мухи
смертію платять життя свого чинш
порухом рухом
ЮДЖИН
До Нью-Йорку також дійшли волхви і настало Різдво
і також на ослиці втікають Марія і Йосип удвох
і різдвяний місяць блищить як новенький цент
і також кутя—і січневі сніги падають цілу ніч в океан
і Бродвей хрустить як свіжий croissant
і Рокефелер-центр
75
blue cows are flying—and your hand
casts a shadow
upon a stone
where two specks of a snake coiled like a spring
from its skin reflect the light
the sounds of your frogs will always outsing
even the church singers
on a choir night
the mudfish are darting about in the Dzhurynka waters
—like silvery red trails—
their fins—resemble paper rubles
their eyes covered with scales
a mouse is rustling beneath a leaf
and squadrons of flies
pay their life´s rent with death´s relief
every time they stir or fly
EUGENE
The magi have also arrived in New York and so did Christmas
as Mary and Joseph are fleeing together on a donkey
and the Christmas moon shines like a brand-new penny
and also the kutya8—and the January snow falls into the
ocean all night long
and Broadway is crunching like a fresh croissant
and so does Rockefeller Center
8 Kutya is a traditional Ukrainian Christmas dish made of poppy seeds,
wheat and honey.
76
й крізь різдвяну ніч що не мислить себе волхвом
ані вовком самотнім дивиться вслід тим двом
Юджин мій приятель -що входить в зимовий сад
вулиць нью-йоркських— й шукає ключі і замок
може тому й виглядає як загнаний вовк
і самотній Сартр
лише там в підсвідомості у колишнім своїм житті
він ще ситий снігами—там наївся досхочу куті
там не знає Нью-Йорка—не платить щомісяця рент
домовласник не тягне до суду за музику і книжки
і самотність не вивертає кишки
і не тягне за руку “Strand”
Юджин звично стоїть навпроти русинської церкви
нишпорить по кишенях шукає коп´юри і центи
знає кожен провулок —й про Троцького і Воргола
нарікає на старість— й на смерть котра не придасться
в торбі носить своє невелике щастя
на котрій рекламується кока-кола
старість для Юджина значить призначення музики
шалик—беретка—в пальті повідривані ґудзики
вікна в квартирі закладені книгами від паркету
постійна самотність що ходить за ним наче вбивця
кава на столику запах якої пролився
як молоко із пакета
77
and through the Christmas night one who doesn´t think himself
a magus
nor a lone wolf watching the path of those two
is my friend Eugene—he enters the wintry orchard
of New York streets—and searches for his keys and lock
perhaps that´s why he looks like a pursued wolf
and a lonely Sartre
only there in the subconscious mind of his previous life
he is still sated with snows—there he had his fill of kutya
there he knows no New York—doesn´t pay monthly rent
the landlord doesn´t drag him to court for his music and books
there the loneliness does not wrench his guts
and the Strand9 does not pull him by the hand
Eugene usually stands across from the Carpatho-Ruthenian church
fumbles in his pockets for bills and change
he knows every alley—he knows about Trotsky and Warhol
complains about old age—and about the death he could do
without
his small fortune he carries in a bag
with a Coca-Cola ad
to Eugene old age means the destiny of music
scarf—beret—overcoat with missing buttons
windows in his apartment blocked by books from the floor up
the constant loneliness that stalks him like a killer
on his table there is coffee the smell of which has spilled out
like milk from a carton
9 The Strand is a well-known bookstore in Greenwich Village.
78
і тому що волхви проминули шосту і сьому вулиці
Юджин вірить що сніг це бджоли які покидають вулики
якраз на Різдво—і ця думка солодка немов халва
що протягнеться лінією диму з маріхуани
Юджин бачить зустрічного мексиканця Хуана
а думає що волхва
але свято минає хоч завжди воно з тобою в зимі
і ми з Юджином разом але завжди в Нью-Йорку самі
він в пальті мов розхристаний ангел звертає убік
і з торбами книжок що волочить по мокрім асфальті
дві солістки що вибігли в зиму з будинку Amato
сповіщають: закінчився рік
...................................................................................................
Kost Moskalets
вона танцює зараз на терасі
вона танцює кольоровий танок
—любити її любити опівночі—кажеш про себе
про хмари липневі
заходиш у них по груди заходиш у літо
шматочки його відразу ж торкаються очей і волосся
дивишся крізь них на сонце—бджоли яблука дощ
а танок триває вона танцює хоч довкола темніє
вона танцює в саду вона танцює на твоїх долонях
і раптом
79
and because the magi have by-passed the Sixth and Seventh streets
Eugene believes that the snow is really bees that leave their hives
right on Christmas—and this thought is as sweet as halvah
stretching as a trail of marijuana smoke
Eugene encounters a Mexican named Juan
and takes the man for a magus
but the holidays are passing though they always abide with you
throughout winter
Eugene and I are together but always alone in New York
in his overcoat like a disheveled angel he turns the corner
dragging bags full of books on the wet asphalt
two female soloists run outside into the cold from the Amato
Opera building
to announce: the year had ended
...................................................................................................
Translated by Mark Andryczyk
she’s dancing now on the terrace
she’s dancing a colorful dance
—to love her to love her at midnight—you say about yourself
about the clouds of July
slip into them up to your chest slip into summer
slices of it now graze your eyes and your hair
you look through them up at the sun—bees apples rain
and the dance continues she is dancing though outside it is
darkening
she is dancing in the garden she is dancing on the surface of your
palms
and suddenly
80
падає
підхоплюєш— любити тебе опівночі— кажеш
ідеш не дослухаючи аплодисментів і свисту з галерки
ідеш по квітах і помідорах що негарно пахнуть
несеш її— наче хмару наче сіно просто як бджолу—
і не повертаєшся
....................................................................................................
Ludmyla Taran
Ми їхали по небу між снігів.
Меланхолійні вівці підіймали
Свої невинні очі і брели
Отарою до другого пришестя.
Тут зовсім інший час: його немає.
І чорним перепаленим піском
Згори здаються пристрасті земні,
Мізерним зерням – звершення людські.
…Чого ж я хочу знову повернутись
Туди, де глина сокровенна спить,
Де все ще Божий полумінь горить –
За мить підносячи із праху?
81
she is falling
you catch her—to love you at midnight— you say
you walk on ignoring the applause and whistles from the gallery
you walk upon flowers and tomatoes which give off a nasty scent
you carry her—as if a cloud as if some hay just like a bee—
and you don’t look back
....................................................................................................
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
We rode along the sky amid the snows.
Melancholy sheep raised
Their innocent eyes and wandered
In a herd toward the second coming.
It´s an entirely different time here: it´s not.
And from above, earthly passions seem
Like charred black sand,
Human accomplishments are meager seeds.
… Why do I want to return again
To where sacred clay sleeps,
Where the flame of God still burns—
Rising out of ashes in an instant?
82
ШОВКОПРЯД
Коштовний шовк із черева дерев
Вилонюється, ніби за рукою
Усміхненого фокусника. Поле
Застелене тим шовком золотим.
Хіба тобі я зразу не сказала,
Що дивна я, і дивна моя річ,
І ніч моя інакша, ніж у всіх.
І я насправді зовсім не шовкова.
Але ж і не залізна.
Шовкопряд.
Я – шовкопряд, який себе зжирає,
І ніжно перетравлює, і з рани
Висотує слова.
*
Нашарувалися цілі епохи
в мозкові наших кісток,
Попід язиком і в ямках
наших очниць:
Живемо – не відаємо
власних див і власних нещасть.
Пиши на нас хто що хоче –
а хто прочитає?
Прірва глупоти і глухі,
наче безвість, уми.
Ненатлі, зжираємо землю
всередину себе.
Ані садів, ані видив,
ані повітря-води,
Ані потопів опісля нас,
aні трава не рости?
83
SILKWORM
Precious silk from the womb of trees
Emerges as though out of the sleeve
Of a smiling magician. The field
Is covered with this golden silk.
Didn´t I tell you right away
That I´m strange, that my speech is strange,
that my night is different than that of others?
In truth I´m not made of silk at all.
But not of steel either.
A silkworm.
I´m a silkworm that devours itself,
tenderly digesting, draining out words
from the wound.
*
Entire epochs have become stratified
into our bone marrow,
Beneath the tongue and in the orbits
of our eyes:
We live—not in control of our own miracles
and our own misfortunes.
Write whatever you want on us—
but who will read it?
The abyss of stupidity and minds
dull as obscurity.
Insatiable, we devour the earth
inside ourselves.
Will no gardens, no wonders,
no air or waters,
No floods or grass
grow after us?
84
Maria Rewakowicz
1. Монолог початку березня
ніч
за вікном сніг
білий самотній Нью-Йорк
стукає у двері
не відчиняю
загортаюсь у твої слова
як у теплий розкішний шаль
безжурно тихо спокійно
тільки час від часу заговорить вулиця
переїздним автом
в неприсутності якась вагомість
якесь нез’ясоване до кінця слово
що зависло над нашою віддаллю
хотілося б розкрити це слово
як книжку
і хто вгадає що на останній сторінці?
засинаю не дочитавши до кінця
а за вікном така зима ...
2. Монолог половини лютого
і навіщо тобі відкривати двері
до заплутаного учора?
вони давно заґратовані
з колодкою важкою пройденими днями
з ключем гидко заіржавілим
Київ половини лютого 2010-го
85
Translated by Svitlana Bednazh
TWO MONOLOGUES
—for N.I.
1. Early March Monologue
night
snow outside
white lonely New York
knocks on the door
I don’t answer
I wrap myself in your words
like a warm cozy shawl
and feel carefree
it’s quiet and still
just from time to time the street begins to speak
in a passing car
in absence there’s a certain gravity
a word not thoroughly explained
that’s hanging above our distance
you’d like to open this word
like a book
and who will guess what’s on the final page?
I’m falling asleep not having read it to the end
and it’s real winter outside the window...
2. Mid-February Monologue
and why do you need to open the door
to the entangled past?
the door has been grated too long
with the heavy padlock of bygone days
and a grimly rusted key
Kyiv in mid-February 2010
86
привабливий прозорим морозом і продажною політикою
приносить несподівано твою квітучу усмішку
мовби десерт у дивовижній мисці з котрої
як сніг з похилого даху
стікає фальш прогріта сонцем
за чаєм можна балакати про все
найлегше про політику
це дешево й не зобов’язує
а от про себе – бажання немає
забагато зим спливло до моря
забагато трави вигоріло на сонці
і все ж – чому так хочеться десерту?
....................................................................................................
Maryana Savka
Хтось із жінок
тебе не дивує
Сільвія Платт
зафіранює вікна
і слухає море
їй здається
що все це лише імітація
то насправді не море
а тільки
семпльовані звуки
акустичні ефекти
їй ніхто не говорить
правди про те
що немає ні моря ні вітру
ні страху
ні болю
ні шалу
лише симулятори
всіх почуттів і бажань
крім одного—
87
alluring in translucent frost and corrupt politics
unexpectedly brings your blossoming smile
as if it is a dessert in a strange bowl out of which
sham, warmed through by the sun, slides down
like snow from the sloping roof
one can chat about everything over a cup of tea
easiest to talk about politics
it’s cheap and does not oblige
yet there’s no desire to talk about ourselves
too many winters have flowed to the sea
too much grass has been burnt in the sun
though still—why do I want dessert so much?
....................................................................................................
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
Some woman
fails to astonish you
Sylvia Plath
drapes the windows
and listens to the sea
to her it seems
this all is just an imitation
in truth it’s not the sea
but just
sampled sounds
sound effects
no one tells the truth
to her
that there is no sea or wind
no fear
no pain
no rage
just simulations
of all feelings and hopes
other than one—
88
бажання писати
щоб вижити
або померти
щоб жити
…………………………………………………………………
ОРГАНИ ЧУТТЯ
зір
очима своєї пам’яті
дякую за все
що я можу побачити
навіть коли
очі заплющені
навіть як ти
закриваєш від мене
долонею світло
навіть коли
світ наче камера обскура
де в опуклому дзеркалі
відбивається
маленька хлоп’яча душа
боса і коротко стрижена
і два океани
повні неба і хмар і очей
такої ж глибокої барви
слух
ти знаєш так само
тиші нема
її не існує
навіть вві сні
серед найтонших вібрацій
завжди безпомильно
89
the hope of writing
to survive
either to die
or live
…………………………………………………………………
Translated by Mark Andryczyk
ORGANS OF SENSE
sight
with my memory’s eyes
I thank you for all
that I can see
even with
eyes closed
even when you
block out the light
with your palm
the world a camera obscura
its concave mirror
reflecting
a little boy’s soul
barefoot and short-haired
and two oceans
full of sky and clouds and eyes
of the same deep shade
hearing
you know it too
no silence
it does not exist
even in dreams
amid the most subtle vibrations
I always unmistakably
90
я віднаходжу
пульсацію крил голубиних
і шелест дерев
на одній із каштанових вулиць
танець нічних мотилів
довкіл абажура
шурхіт сторінки
яку
перегортають
тремтячими пальцями
стогін коханців
ймовірно із дому навпроти
шепіт незнаною мовою
у телефонну мембрану
і аритмію сердець
що намагаються битись ритмічно
і від того постійно
збиваються з ритму
*
Сонце моє кохане
з запахом цинамону,
вечір снує під вії
срібну ниточку снів.
Так неймовірно близько,
так неподільно вдома,
в згорбленому фотелі,
в сутінках при вікні.
А за вікном колишуть
вітер старі морелі,
а нам давно не пишуть
друзі старі листів.
91
find
the pulse of pigeons’ wings
and the rustling of trees
on a certain chestnut street
the dance of night-time moths
encircling the fixture
the crackling of a page
that
is turned
by trembling fingers
the sighs of lovers
perhaps from the house next door
the whispers of an unknown language
in the telephone membrane
and the arrhythmia of hearts that
always fall out of rhythm
when attempting to beat in time
*
My beloved sun,
scented with cinnamon,
the evening beneath eyelashes
weaves a silver thread of dreams.
So unbelievably close,
so indivisibly home,
slouched in a time-worn armchair
with twilight at the window.
Outside the window
old apricots sway the wind,
no more letters written
by old friends.
92
Сонце моє кохане,
кісточка на тарелі,
присмак гіркої вишні,
тіні стають густі.
І запливає в сіті
ночі рибина срібна,
Іізалягає тиша
на кам’яному дні.
Знову самі у світі.
Що нам іще потрібно?
Гірко смакує вишня
в сутінках при вікні.
.....................................................................................................
Oles Ilchenko
КАЇР
безлад
безглуздих
безупинних
безцінних
потоків авт
без регулювальників
без розмітки доріг
без підморувань світофорів
каруселя спекотного дня
гойдалка непевної прохолоди ночі
й рожева свіжість чаю з гібіскуса
можна торгуватися
можна домогтися знижки
можна придбати й забути
можна перетнути ніл
поглянути на купи сміття
на мальовничих берегах
кінь що неквапом пливе
93
My beloved sun,
a pit lying on a saucer,
the taste of bitter cherry,
shadows thickening.
And a silver fish
flows into the net of night,
and silence lies
down on the stony bottom.
Once more alone in this world.
What else do we really need?
The cherry tastes bitter
with twilight at the window.
.....................................................................................................
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
CAIRO
the chaos
of senseless
ceaseless
aimless
streams of cars
no traffic cops
no road signs
no blinking traffic lights
the carousel of a scorching day
the swing of an uncertain chilling of the night
and the pink freshness of hibiscus tea
you can haggle
you can work out a discount
you can get something and forget
you can cross the nile
you can look at piles of trash
on the picturesque banks
a horse that sluggishly floats
94
черевом догори
вигрівається на сонці
прямує за течією
а потім слід бачити гори
на обрії які
прикидаються міражем
за пальмами
сірі трикутники на знебарвленному небі
згадати слово
гіза
знову зауважити дзижчання
знаків дня
що зводяться врешті до
пірамідної оречевлености
вічности
*
знайти
вихід з лабіринту
мотати ниточку
спокусивши аріадну
слід також вбити
чи оминути мінотавра
або ж дракона тут і десь
щаслива мить виходу
назовні
захват від небаченого простору
який тим часом
може виявитися
жахом нескінченної темряви
стати безмежною ніччю
чи просто тихою ніченькою
якої-небудь kristallnacht
95
belly up
warms itself in the sun
follows the flow
and then you should see mountains
on the horizon that
pretend to be a mirage
beyond the palm trees
gray triangles on the colorless sky
to remember the word
giza
again to notice the buzz
of the signs of the day
that in the end are reduced to
the pyramidic thingification
of eternity
*
to find
the exit from the labyrinth
to wind the thread
having tempted ariadne
one should also kill
or avoid the minotaur
or the dragon here and hereabouts
the happy moment of egress
outward
the rapture from unknown space
that at the same time
turned out to be
the horror of infinite darkness
to become the boundless night
or simply a quiet night
of a kind of kristallnacht
96
*
а потім відділити
свідомість
вона знайде вихід
крізь грати
відімкне замки
піде невидимими потаємними
ходами
вона зуміє пронести
скарб який виріс із
болю і втрат
став твоєю родинною
коштовністю
свідомости не слід зупинятися
й забувати закляття проти
часу-людожера
…………………………………………………………………
Borys Shchavursky
РАХЕЛЬ10
Опісля віршів, теплих і тривких, -
зі столу Божого нікчемних крихт, -
гряде моя остання алія11
і я—історія,
Під мужнім сонцем, сонцем самоти,
кому ще знас судилося пройти
10 Йдеться про поетесу Рахель Блувштейн (1890-1931).
11 АліЯ—("сходження")—репатріація євреїв до Ізраїлю.
97
*
but afterward to separate
consciousness
it will find a way out
through gratings
will unlock locks
will pass through secret invisible
passages
it will carry out
the treasure that grew from
pain and losses
that became your family
treasure
consciousness shouldn’t stop
and forget incantations against
time—the cannibal
…………………………………………………………………
Translated by Larysa Bobrova
RACHEL12
After poems, warm and lasting,
from God’s table of worthless crumbs,
My last aliyah13 comes
and I—am history,
Under the bold sun, the sun of loneliness,
who else of us was doomed to pass
12 This poem is about Rachel Bluvstein (1890-1931).
13 Aliyah is the repatriation of Jews to Israel (the “descent”).
98
поміж світів незнаних крізь усі
спокуси єресі,
щоби не бидлом темним від хліва,
але постати маком у хлібах
перед лицем єдиного свого
сумління голого?!
І ти тепер, мій Боже, забирай
Рахель свою у наш єврейський рай,
бо хто я тут, на цій терпкій землі?
Я—кров у попелі,
я—вже пейзаж, мазок осінніх бід,
де сторожами будуть сотні літ,
туману пасма в сутінках лиця
та смерть-спокусниця.
*
Килими снігу і тиші стіна,
гола душа у долонях на холоді...
Мужносте пізня, час вже і нам
долю писати сріблом по золоті.
Хоч заливаюся ще солов’єм,
важче живеться і пишеться важче...
Чуєш, ти, золотко пізнє моє? —
Сріблом по золоті, і не інакше.
Знати не знаю, хто так звелів —
хай українською, хай хоч івритом, —
наче останній гебрей на Землі,
мушу себе я договорити.
99
between the known worlds, through all
the temptations of heresy,
not to emerge as mindless cattle from a barn,
but as poppy seeds in breads
before the face of my
lone naked consciousness?!
And you, my God, take
your Rachel to our Jewish paradise,
because who am I here, on this bitter land?
I am blood in ashes,
I am already a landscape, a paintbrush stroke of autumn woes,
where hundreds of years will be sentinels,
I am slivers of fog in the dusk of a face
and the temptress-death.
*
Carpets of snow and a wall of silence,
a naked soul in palms in the cold…
Belated courage, it is already time for us
to write destiny with silver on gold.
Even though I am singing like a nightingale,
It is harder to live and harder to write…
Do you hear, my dear belatedness?—
With silver on gold, and not any other way.
I don’t know at all, who so ordered it—
let it be in Ukrainian, or at least in Hebrew—
as though I were the last Hebrew on Earth,
I must finish speaking me.
100
Hanna Osadko
Я хочу в Місто, де живуть дощі –
Протяжно-сірі, наче сни хасида,
Щоб ми – за руки – мокрі, як хлющі –
У цьому Львові, як у Атлантиді
Згубились між водою і камінням…
І наша хата поросла б корінням –
Як лабіринт – ні вийти, ні зайти…
Довічна осінь і пречистий ти.
Стигмати тріщин встеляться по стелі,
І ми, обвившись тілом, як плющем,
Від ніжності помремо у постелі
У тій майстерні, що живе дощем
І тліє листям, як правічна мова.
Твоя любов – шовковиця шовкова:
Тавро цих губ довіку не відтерти –
Чорніших і від кави, і від смерти.
…………………………………………………………
ОСІННІ АЛЮЗІЇ
…відьмацьке наслання: і берег, і місячний мул,
Що шворку слідів загубивши, торкнувся губами
Цього чорторию, як чорного вимені мами,
Цього божевілля - спокійного, наче намул,
Де води, змережані колами, сколені досі
Як віспою – рідне обличчя,
Як втратами – осінь.
За колами кола спроквола – і мариться знов,
Що човники плинуть – флотилія тане і тоне
За списком Гомера, і то не химера, і то не
Армада недремна, гурмовище багатотонне,
А листя прозоре_ долоні_примарна любов…
101
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
I want to go to the City where the rain lives—
Protractedly gray, like the dreams of a Hassid,
So that we—hand in hand—get soaking wet—
In this Lviv as though in the Atlantic
Would become lost between the water and stone…
And our house would become overgrown with roots—
Like a labyrinth—can’t get out, or in…
Perpetual autumn and immaculate you.
The stigmata of cracks rise along the ceiling,
And we, wrapping our bodies like ivy,
Will die from tenderness in bed
In this artist loft that is alive from the rain
And decays in leaves like a sempiternal language.
Your love—is a silk mulberry tree:
The mark of these lips forever can’t be effaced—
Blacker from coffee and from death.
…………………………………………………………
Translated by Larysa Bobrova
AUTUMN ALLUSIONS
…a sorcerer’s spell cast: a shore, and a month-old mule,
Just having lost the rope of tracks, with his lips he touched
This devil’s vortex like his mother’s black udder,
This madness—peaceful, as if it were silt,
Where waters are embroidered with circles, still blistered
As though with smallpox—a kindred face,
As though with losses—autumn.
Circles after circles go slowly—and you imagine again,
That tiny boats float quickly—the fleet is dwindling and drowning
According to Homer’s list, and it is not a figment, and not
A vigilant Armada, a many-tonned throng,
But translucent leaves _ palms_ spectral love…
102
Mariya Tytarenko
НЕ РУШ ТРАВИ
«І забуваю я, що вмію дихати,
І що ходити вмію, забуваю…»
Забудь мене!
Ми надто близько
до прірви передчасних дій!
Ми стоїмо занадто високо…
Не руш трави,
спинися,
стій!
Довкола мене три екватори,
позаду—вічності ріка,
я у стрибках таких аматорка,
я у триванні нетривка,
я у коханні остокрилена,
але на сонці я—Ікар!
То я безсила,
то всесильна…
Зірви стоп-кран,
зроби стоп-кадр!
Не руш трави—
мене порушив
і впав в моє провалля мрій:
там, в споришах, духмяні груші,
- не зволікай!
рушай!
мерщій!
103
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
DON’T TOUCH THE GRASS
“I forget how to breathe,
And I forget how to walk…”
Forget about me!
We’re way too close
to the abyss of rash-rushed acts!
We’re standing way too high…
Don’t touch the grass,
stay there,
stop!
Three equators surround me.
The river of eternity—behind,
An amateur to this kind of jumping,
I won´t be able to handle it for very long,
when in love I’m a hundred-winged,
but I´m Icarus in the sun!
I’m powerless,
and all powerful…
Hit the train´s emergency brake
and stop the frame!
Don’t touch the grass
—you’ve touched me
and fallen into my abyss of dreams:
there in the knotweed, fragrant pears,
don’t linger!
move!
right away!
104
…ступнів відбитки,
спин і стегон,
зітхань,
отам, у споришах…
…і випрямляються стеблини
обабіч прірви
по стрибках…
…………………………………………………………………
РІЗНИЦЯ В СІМ ГОДИН
твоя відримована ніч
мені утіка під повіки
і п’яні дерева в цвіту
танцюють гротескно гопак
і я роздягаюсь у сон
і ти убираєшся в ранок
і знов розминулися ми
йдучи на той самий маяк
а мій неримований день
тобі приколисує душу
і брук по коліна в снігах
поволі вилизує сіль
і ти пригортаєш мене
і я угортаюсь у тишу
і так зустрічаємось ми
на різних планетах землі
105
…imprints of footsteps,
backbones, thighs and
sighs,
there in the knotweed…
…and the stalks straighten up
on both sides of the abyss
after the bounding leaps…
…………………………………………………………………
Translated by Olha Tytarenko
A SEVEN HOUR TIME DIFFERENCE
your perfectly rhymed night
is escaping from my eyelid
drunken trees bloom
grotesquely dancing a hopak
I’m undressing for sleep
and you’re getting dressed for the morning
we move toward the same lighthouse beacon
missing each other once again
and my unrhymed day
is rocking your soul to sleep and
the cobblestone pavement is knee deep in snow
slowly licking up salt
and you nestle close to me
I cloak myself in the silence
and so we rendezvous
on different planets of the same earth
106
Iryna Shuvalova
…ти чорний як зима
заплющились долоні
затиснули свій скарб
непройдених життів
і янголи стримлять
в повітрі—у полоні
пришпилені до снігу
на дотиках дротів
через які мости
ходити нам у небо?
на звалищах старих
ворушиться життя
розставлено пастки
приховано потреби
тіла—тільки дмухни!—
за вітром відлетять
і начебто вже все
нема куди вертатись
під брилами годин
поховано ключі
мов янголи сумні
летять аеростати
так холодно удень
так поночі вночі
107
Translated by Michael M. Naydan
…you are black as winter
your palms shut
you clenched your treasure
of unspent lives
and angels rush
in the air—in captivity
pinned to the snow
by the touches of wires
over which bridges
do we go into the sky?
life will stir
in old ruins
traps are set out
needs are hidden
bodies—just blow!—
will fly away beyond the air
and it’s as if already there’s
nowhere to return to
beneath the clods of hours
keys are hidden
like sad angels
balloons fly
it’s so cold during the day
so dark at night
108
ТІЛО
сумними вістрями сну і пилу
кору повітря руйнують квіти
на вищому ступені твого тіла
воно перетворюється на вітер
і птахи на ньому карбують треки
і звірі по ньому ідуть на запах
долаючи шкіри гарячий трепет
воно доростає до рівня знака
воно у собі досягає сенсу
спить бог сповитий в пітьму печери
жерці стооких камінних персій
ламають пальці своїх містерій
а ти забуваєш свій кожен атом
занурюєш пальці в суцільний логос
і богові солодко в тобі спати
і він відмовляється бути богом
а ти відмовляєшся бути пилом
не дух не порох вже дещо інше
на вищому ступені твого тіла
воно перетворюється на тишу
109
THE BODY
through the somber edges of sleep and dust
flowers ruin the crust of air.
at the highest stage of your body
it turns into wind.
birds notch tracks on it,
animals move along it by scent.
overcoming the hot flutter of skin
it grows to the level of a sign.
it reaches sense in itself:
a god sleeps, wrapped in the darkness of a cave.
high priests of hundred-eyed stone persias
break the fingers of their mysteries.
but you forget every one of your atoms,
you plunge fingers into solid logos.
it’s sweet for the god to sleep in you,
and he refuses to be a god.
and you refuse to be dust
not spirit, not ashes—but already somewhat different.
at the highest stage of your body
it turns into silence
110
Bohdana Matiyash
РОЗМОВИ З БОГОМ
1
може скажеш мені Боже що в цьому немає нічого
страшного що так часто буває але я майже не знаю
чужих імен не знаю як говорити з грабом і чи він мене
чує чи досить просто про щось його запитувати чи
треба пригорнутися всім тілом аби озвався не знаю як
говорити зі зрубаними буками спиляними й покинутими
соснами без вершечків верхівки забрали з лісу ще перед
різдвом на свята так колись робив і мій батько
щоправда він ішов до лісу без сокири просто шукав
покинуту верхівку зависоку зашироку або й просто
непевну для міських тісних квартир заходив у
найдальші куточки лісу знаходив присипані снігом
сосни й приносив додому може тоді я й знала як
говорити з деревами яким іще не загоїлися рани лиш
ледве-ледве затяглися живицею не пригадую може
торкалася губами щоб їм не боліло не треба було навіть
і слів тільки подиху як я Боже вчилася тієї мови і як
сталося що тепер я не вмію говорити навіть до яблунь
коли вони схиляються під тягарем плодів відвертаються
від цілоденного сонця чому не знаю як говорити до
байдужих до мене шовковиць до завмерлих біля плотів
і зарослих кропивою стосів дров уже трохи прогнилих і
вкритих лишаєм не вмію називати на ім’я та й вони
кличуть мене лишень жінко принеси нам води не
знають як інакше мене назвати перш ніж ти Боже
захочеш щоби моє серце спинилося навчи мене
говорити з деревами розкажи мені їхні імена хоч я не
певна що мені вдасться одразу всі запам’ятати може
111
Translated by Dzvinia Orlowsky and Bohdana Matiyash
FROM THE CYCLE “CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD”
1
maybe you tell me my God that there is nothing terrible in
this that it happens often but I barely know names of
others I don’t know how to talk with a hornbeam and if he
hears me if it’s sufficient to question him about something
or if I need to embrace him with my entire body so that he
will speak I don’t know how to speak with felled beech
trees or sawed and abandoned pines with missing tops the
tops taken from the forest as far back as before christmas
eve to celebrate the holidays formerly my father also did
the same though he went the woods without an axe just
looked to find an abandoned top too high too wide or just
not quite right to fit in tight city flats he walked to the
furthest corner of the woods found pines covered with
snow and brought back home maybe by then I knew how
to talk with trees which still hadn’t healed from wounds
just dragged barely-barely with galipot can’t remember
maybe I touched it with my lips for they would not feel
pain it wasn’t necessary then to have words only breath
how my God I learned that language and how did it come
to be that now I don’t even know how to talk to apple trees
when they lower themselves under the weight of their fruit
turn away from the all-day sun why I don’t know how to
talk to the indifferent to me mulberry trees to the stock-still
near the fences and overgrown with nettles piles of wood a
little rotted already and covered with lesions I haven’t
learned how to call them by name and they call to me just
woman bring us water they don’t know how else to call me
before you God want that my heart stopped teach me how
to speak with trees tell me their names though I am not
sure I can remember them at once so maybe just tell me
112
просто розкажи мені від чого їм тріскається і темніє
кора може Господи навчи мене бути просто як ростуть
шипшини й акації кедри й оливкові дерева що дякують
за пору цвітіння і листопаду що від самого зерня знають
свої імена й час народження а якщо не захочеш то
може навіть ліпше навчи мене з ними мовчати аби я
жодне з Твоїх сотворінь не поранила голосом і знаєш
Боже з людьми також навчи мовчати бо й вони
бувають сумні як дерева з надламаними гілками й
опалою глицею так навпомацки ходжу дорогами Твого
лісу поміж моїми братами й сестрами і не знаю як до
них говорити якщо Ти мені Боже цього не розкажеш
113
what makes their bark crack and darken perhaps O Lord
teach me to be easily as grow wild roses and acacias cedars
and olive trees that give thanks for the time of blooming
and falling of leaves that from the very seed know their
names and the time of birth and if you don’t want to then
better yet teach me to be silent with them so that I none of
your creatures hurt with my voice and you know God with
people also teach me to be silent because they also
sometimes are lonely as trees with broken branches and
fallen needles so stumbling I walk the roads of your forest
between my brothers and sisters and don’t know how to
speak to them unless you my God tell me this
114
115
POETRY IN ENGLISH
116
Samuel Gray
MANTLE
I’ve always wanted to feel weightless.
I go around making things heavier.
If I find an old porcelain doorknob
(in the attic of the Antique Mall,
behind the toy-train mountain, lost
in a thicket of mummified gate-hasps,
wheezing hinges, bitter dead-bolts)
I’ll pick it up, and like porcelain
always, everywhere, it’ll be
heavier than I’d expected.
So what if I remember the poem by Ponge,
the happiness of grabbing the huge single obstacle
by the porcelain knot of its belly. In the end I turn,
unhappy grappler, and go back out
to the world where obstacles
are neither huge, nor single.
The incomprehensible is incomprehensible.
Concerning this a man once said: Yes,
but we know that already. Concerning this
another man said: Words fall over.
It was then it seemed to me that time melted,
and was no longer distinguishable
from the world around it.
117
Michael Dennison
BLACK SONNET #1
Betrayal has a breakfast of eggs and toast—
this morning is hers—her picture at last
on the front page of The Daily Star just
below the weather—high of twenty eight,
periods of snow, some notable accumulation, cold.
Her coffee, weak and white with half and half,
slips hot over her creamily agile tongue, coats it
for another forkful. She says “too bad my back
is not my best side, but it is something tight for your eyes
as I walk away.” And the heels are cruel. “You dripped
yolk on your swell English tie, wanker. You ruin silk
and linen. Your father was a moth.” She rises, waiters
slip out her chair, drape the fox on her shoulders. She offers
her cheek for me to kiss and whispers “Goodbye, Judas.”
BLACK SONNET #2
For years the box maker has been a master
and the past five mad, quite insane hiding back
in his shed with his tools but to trawl the streets
at four a.m. for curbside wood, mirrors, metal.
Each is more Baroque than his last. He says
“Everything is a box—restraint, constraint,
houses. Our children are the boxes of our genes,
our heads boxes of will, theatres of drama,
118
scripts in red ink arriving in boxes and boxes.”
I tell him I long for boxes—sonnets—quatrains
with five stresses—and this box I commission him
to make, something to kennel my scorpion in as I travel
to Beirut, not so bulky to ruin the line of my suit
slipped into my breast pocket, hungry, dark and quiet.
BEIRUT, MAY 2007
Omens everywhere he said. A dead bird on his bed
wings spread, mother of pearl eyes—a black cat
that will not leave the gate—dead cockroaches inside
his rolled up socks. He walked the Corniche at dusk,
a white van returning again and again, Syrian plates,
and then stopped to watch him slip into Luna Park.
He stared at the lights of the Ferris wheel, the one
that has fallen twice, at the obscene hermaphrodite pig
in black jump suit towering over the kiddy rides,
face tattooed with black stripes like the god Bes.
Beirut as end of the world—it wears it well and he
took to wearing black though it was almost summer.
It had been time to go since April. Then even the
demonic pig was blown to bits by winter.
119
Kirk Nesset
PHANTOM LIMB
He endures hair loss, heartworm,
hives, diarrhea, nostalgia, burning
bladder, unpleasant dreams.
He asked for zilch and got this, plus
the rodents and heavy equipment
and tremors and peptic ulcer
and burst bursa and carpal tunnels
and headache and colic and this
odd phantom limb. He hates
the hatred he feels—it breeds like
blight in a peach. He tries to begin
to decide that ninety nine point
eight per cent of these people
he hates aren’t necessarily
poison. Tomorrow inspiration
will unravel its plan
to buy innocence back, sidestepping
rhododendrons
and coffins—but meanwhile
he sits, freezing by night,
by day aflame in plain sun.
Will he descend the stairwell
at twilight and burn? Or dive in
for good, among waves of pale
fish, precursors, and open,
as you do, to wonder?
120
Ulf Kirchdorfer
TRANSLATION
How safe and useful,
academic translation!
I render passages
of critical articles
about Jane Austen
into English,
even the strange
assignment of
Henry Miller
having been interviewed
in English and written down
in Swedish
and now needing a home
at the University Press
of Mississippi.
The best assignment
for non-muscular me
was pay for rendering
bodybuilding tips
about steroids
121
and bench press,
meeting someone
at the gym who could
use my language skills
as if they were disconnected
from Germany,
and I complicit
in this break-deal.
122
ON TRANSLATION…
IPR welcomes formal or informal essays on any aspect of the
art and craft of translation. In this issue, we are very pleased to
feature the following critical appreciation of David Slavitt’s
translations from the pen of Fred Chappell, professor emeritus
of the UNCG English MFA program in Creative Writing and
author of over thirty volumes of distinguished poetry, fiction
and literary essays.
BOOM! CLANK! DAVID SLAVITT’S FREEHEARTED ART
OF TRANSLATION
Here is the story as I recall it:
George S. Kaufman and S. J. Perelman, the co-authors of The
Coconuts, were standing in the wings as the Marx Brothers gave
one of the later of their many madcap performances of that play.
At one point Kaufman nudged Perelman and said, “Hark! I think
I heard one of our lines!”
So the pallid shade of Virgil might have murmured upon
reading David Slavitt’s version of his eclogues. Eclogues and
Georgics of Virgil was first published in 1972 by Doubleday and
then again by The Johns Hopkins University Press in 1990.
Perhaps the ghost of the Mantuan might catch in Slavitt’s version
of the Fourth Eclogue a suggestive whiff of his own lines:
Someone must come along
to get us all out of this mess, to make it right,
to save us from what we have been, from what we are.
(1972 version, 15-16)
Te duce, si qua manent, sceleris vestigia nostri
Irrita perpetua formidine terras.
The reaction of the pale revenant might be, I suggest, a
quizzical but sympathetic half-shrug. Poets ought to allow other
123
poets whatever latitude they find necessary, even when results
seem entirely alien to original intention.
For the most part, however, Virgil would have to be content,
in the manner of Kaufman and Perelman, to enjoy the
performance as an entity all its own, original intentions be
hanged. Nowhere in his lauded ecloga would the Roman find
lines corresponding to this outburst:
Every writer I know
hates other writers. Not all others, but most.
The ones who are better or different he has to hate
because they are better or different. And those who are worse
he despises because that is his earned right.
Or, if they’re worse and successful, he hates them twice,
twenty, fifty times as much for success
that indicts the taste of the public that meted it out
to both of them like a feeble-minded child
sharing out cakes at a party at some home.
(p. 12)
“In what sad condition the works have come down to Mr.
Slavitt,” Virgil would say. “Some stuporous monk in the seventh
century must have sleepily copied a passage from a lost epistle
by Horace into my poem.” His surmise would be inaccurate, but
his feeling for the character of the passage would be proximate.
Of course, it is just as easy to imagine the poet in another
mood altogether—bleary, disheveled, and cranky at the
interruption of his millennia-long slumbers. “Slavitt, aren’t you
that dumb clodhopper who used to mangle like a squeaky
bagpipes some redneck song down on the street corner?
non tu in triviis, indocte, solebas
stridenti miserum stipula disperdere carmen?
(Ecloga III)
124
1.
David Slavitt owns an illustrious and bewildering career as a
man of letters. He was a bright, cheeky film critic for Newsweek
and in altogether different guise he was the schlock novelist
“Henry Sutton,” whose Jackie Collins-type books sold more than
four million copies. But his vocation has always been poetry and
in pursuing that craft and art he has published by very rough
count sixteen volumes of original poetry and about thirty
volumes of poetry in translation, the great majority of the latter
from the classical languages. His choices include Virgil,
Tibullus, Ovid, Seneca, Aeschylus, Bacchylides, Lucretius, and
others. Still to come are selections from the Greek Anthology,
the Appendix Virgiliana, and the Latin poems of Renaissance
masters like Dante and Boccaccio. [For the latter, see infra.]
Add to this corpus a double handful of quality novels, a
scattering of critical monographs and essays, and the verse
passages for Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of Ovid’s
Metamorphoses to play form that enjoyed a successful run on
Broadway, and we have—God knows what. Here is a one-man
atelier like none other I can think of. Perhaps Dryden is closest
in range of similar accomplishment, for although he never wrote
novels, his career as playwright was substantial and influential.
And it is Dryden who has given us what is probably still the
most useful description of the kinds of translation in his “Preface
to Ovid’s Epistles.” All translation, says he, may be reduced to
three heads. The first is “metaphrase,” in which an author is
turned “word by word, line by line” into a language not his or
her own; the second kind is “paraphrase, or translation with
latitude,” in which the sense of the passage is privileged over the
wording; the third way is “imitation” which “assumes the liberty
not only to vary from the words and sense” but even to forsake
the original in favor of creating a new work that stands in some
ill defined relationship to an imputed source. Dryden’s analogy
for the latter method is musical, variation (“division”) upon a
basic theme (“groundwork”) and he suggests that this practice
may lose the name of translation.
125
Slavitt has followed all three of the practices Dryden lists and
has added a couple of others difficult to define. The specific
occasion of my remarks here is the publication of his version of
Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (Harvard University Press,
2009), a work which combines the Dryden methods and
augments them, creating not a new manner of translation but a
novel attitude toward it.
Let us predicate that any translation worthy the name is not a
mere trot, a word-by-word rendering. The trot has a well defined
purpose, to aid a reader who is plodding through a work in its
original language, guiding through difficulties with vocabulary,
grammar, and syntax. No one would read a trot for its own sake;
it is completely parasitic and has no life apart form its host text.
Any other kind of translation falls under the heading of art.
This means, in the words of Dr. Ramiro Lagos, “The translation
has its own rights as a poem.” (As quoted in International Poetry
Review 25:2 [Fall 2009], 98.) A translation which claims such
rights not only can but must be read as a poem on its own. But if
this is so, if a translation must stand as art independent of its
original, what rights remain to the original? The translation does
not supplant or replace it; it still exists pristine and untouched in
its native language and anyone who wishes to read it has only to
take the time to learn Italian or Sanskrit or Urdu or Swahili.
But this is tantamount to saying that there is no relation
between the two poems. They are so integrally themselves there
is no ligature. If they encountered each other on the sidewalk,
neither would recognize, much less acknowledge, the other.
Does anyone contend for so much independence of versions?
Is it not like unplugging a lamp from the wall socket and then
asserting that it still burns?
Sometimes this may be actually the case. The poem by W. B.
Yeats beginning “When you are old and gray and full of sleep” is
very familiar to Anglophone readers, yet it is a version of
Ronsard’s “Quand vous serez bien vielle, au soir a la chandelle”
which is no longer well known, even in France. Some scholars
claim that Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam has
no counterpart in any known tongue. In these cases and in a very
126
few others, we may say that the originals have almost
disappeared, their places taken by “translations.”
But these are anomalies. In most cases readers admit the
existence of the originals whether they can read them or not, no
matter how much they admire certain translations. Keats
recognized Chapman’s Iliad as a realm of gold but not as an
autonomous state. Spenser’s translations of du Bellay are as
beautiful as much of his original work, but if we can decipher
French we still want to read his models. These remain superior to
the English without being more worthy.
If we grant the truth of Dr. Lagos’s dictum, that a translation
has its own rights, then it must stand on its own as a work of art
and meet the same expectations, furnish pleasures comparable to
those of the original, and deliver an equal or nearly equal
measure of import. Even so, it may own to further purposes,
even to quite different ones, without diminishing itself as an
integral work.
One of those further purposes a translation may attempt is to
“sell” the original; that is, a translator may hope to make his
version so interesting, even if it is not closely faithful, that
readers can turn to the original and, with some trouble and a
great deal of aid, discover its glories for themselves. This has
been particularly the case—I surmise wildly—with the epics of
Homer, Virgil, and Dante and with some smaller poems so
passionate or so delicate that even handsome or precise
translations leave an impression of inadequacy. Many are we
who have read Marianne Moore’s versions of La Fontaine with
admiration and yet came away dissatisfied. For all their technical
ingenuity and for all the evident fondness in their rendering, we
can tell that the essential charm—which is the greater part of
their excellence—is missing. I for one came away from them not
intrigued but disheartened, a little sad, knowing, without
knowing how I knew, that the central qualities had been so
transmuted that the end product seemed almost grotesque. T. S.
Eliot once complained that Gilbert Murray’s translations of the
tragedies interposed a barrier for readers more impassable than
the Greek language. That is because Murray, a splendid scholar
127
and critic, lacked the most essential necessity, the one Dryden
underscored: “No man is capable of translating poetry, who
besides a genius to that art, is not a master both of his author’s
language and of his own.” Murray mastered the language of
Aeschylus, but he was no “genius to that art.” Moore
undoubtedly was, but she was no genius in the art of translation.
Dryden offers as an example of metaphrase Ben Jonson’s
nearly literal version of Horace’s Art of Poetry; it is a fitting
example that satisfies his definition of the term. For examples of
“paraphrase” and “imitation,” two renderings of Juvenal’s Tenth
Satire are handy to compare. Robert Lowell’s “The Vanity of
Human Wishes” appeared in his Near the Ocean of 1967. When
it came out, I asked Allen Tate why Lowell had done a version,
seeing that the one by Samuel Johnson had seemed to claim it in
English forever; it had tyrannically held the field for two
hundred years. “Yes, but Cal is very competitive,” said Mr. Tate.
“He cannot yield, even to Johnson.” Yet even a cursory
comparison shows that Lowell has in his sights a goal very
different from Johnson’s.
“Give us long life, O God, and years to live,”
in sickness or in health, this is our prayer;
but age’s ills are strong and never fail.
Look at the face, deformed and paralyzed,
unlike itself, its skin a hide, gone cheeks,
a thousand wrinkles like a mother ape.
There is ample divergence from the Latin here; no schoolboy
will turn to Lowell for his trot. The passage shows some
characteristics of Lowell’s own middle-period verse: the tense
five-beat line, the taste for grotesquerie and incisive, pitiless
descriptions.
Dr. Johnson’s Juvenal inhabits a separate universe:
Enlarge my life with multitude of days,
In health, in sickness, thus the suppliant prays;
Hides from himself his state, and shuns to know
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That life protracted is protracted woe.
Time hovers o’er, impatient to destroy,
And shuts up all the passages of joy.
Where Juvenal cites examples from his own times or times
not long past, Lowell retains the original names: Nero, Seneca,
Cicero, Sejanus and others. With skill and dedicated simplicity
of expression, the Lowell version preserves both the spirit and
some of the ambience of Juvenal’s century. Johnson substitutes
Charles XII of Sweden, Peter the Great, Cardinal Wolsey, the
Duke of Marlborough, and Jonathan Swift. He does not retain
Juvenal’s bill of particulars, the disfigurement of the body by age
and the concomitant failure of sexual prowess, a topic the
Roman dwells upon far too accurately for my own personal
comfort. Instead, he draws unhappiness as a general pall over
everything with the insistent power of abstractions:
With listless eye the dotard views the store,
He views, and wonders that they please no more;
Now pall the tasteless meats, and joyless wines,
And Luxury with sighs her slave resigns.
Lowell is so particular with Juvenal’s detail that he is
downright clinical:
a long oblivion falls on intercourse,
the shy nerve, pumping, drops like a wet leaf,
though tickled through the night, it cannot rise.
The difference is that, through Juvenal, Lowell is filing an
affidavit, while Dr. Johnson is laying down the law. A reader
unaccustomed to the practice of “imitation” might wonder what
text the Great Cham was reading from, or if he were looking
upon any at all.
The happiest advantage of imitation is that it can, from
passage to passage, include metaphrase and paraphrase as these
fit the larger purposes of the poem as a whole. I am unwilling to
129
call Slavitt’s Virgilian Eclogues an imitation; they overstep the
bounds of even those very liberal limits. But in the same volume
are to be found his Georgics and this work I believe can firmly
be called an imitation, though it does test the boundaries of the
term.
Like Johnson, Slavitt will modernize the Latin context to
make a point about the timelessness of human concerns. Here is
the Dr. :
What murder’d Wentworth, and what exil’d Hyde,
By Kings protected, and to Kings ally’d?
What but their wish in Courts to shine,
And Pow’r too great to keep or to resign?
Here Juvenal warns against foolhardy ambition and Johnson
finds modern instances to match the ancient.
Virgil opens his fourth Georgic, all about bees, with this
introduction:
Protinus aerii Mellis caelestia dona
Exequar, hanc etiam, Maecenas, aspice partem,
Admirando tibi leviam spectacula rerum,
Magnanimosque duces, totiusque ordine gentis
Mores, et studia, et populus, et praelia dicam
In tenui labor, at tenuis non gloria, si quem
Numina laeva sinunt, auditque vocatus Apollo.
(Next I shall pursue the celestial gift of aerial honey, and do
you, O Maecenas, vouchsafe to read this also. I shall lay before
you the wonderful actions of these small animals, the bravery of
their leaders, and the manners and employments, and people, and
battles of the whole state. My subject is small, but my glory will
not be small, if the adverse deities permit, and Apollo hears my
invocation.)
Slavitt gives us:
130
To bee or not to....
Never mind. Forget it!
It isn’t the time yet for fooling around.
Still, to have got this far....
And five hundred lines
on bees?
It shouldn’t be hard.
I will do it, sir.
Not for the money, which I acknowledge with thanks,
nor even the fame which I shouldn’t mind at all,
but because I can, because I can see it now,
all of it, all the way, and am amazed,
myself, at what I have done, am doing, will do....
It is the lamest of jokes, that allusion to Hamlet, but lameness
is part of the fun. The more complex humor is tucked away
inside the monosyllable “sir,” which we identify in Virgil as his
wealthy and wonderfully generous patron, Maecenas. Our
decades are fresh out of Maecenases; there are plenty of men as
rich, ruthless, greedy, and corrupt as he, but they seem
indisposed to ladle out drachmae to individual poets. E. A.
Robinson and R. M. Rilke found amenable, unlikely patrons, but
David Slavitt’s Maecenas was a gentleman named Sam
Vaughan, who is not explicitly identified until about eighty lines
later:
What to do, Maecenas?
I mean, Sam Vaughan—
for like old Virgil, I’ve got myself boxed,
have signed a contract....
Slavitt’s Maecenas was his literary agent, the skeptical, hardbargaining
Sam Vaughan, who, when the poet wanted to stop
being the Henry Sutton who turned out potboiler bestsellers,
made a deal with Doubleday. His client would write another
Henry Sutton book on condition that the publisher would bring
out a volume of Slavitt’s poetry. Doubleday acquiesced
131
handsomely; The Eclogues was issued in a boxed edition with
classy drawings by Raymond Davidson. “I’ve got myself
boxed,” meaning “boxed in,” as Virgil was bound to complete
his task and also “boxed edition,” as rare then from a major
commercial firm as it would be now. Even so, Slavitt was still
unhappy and, after fulfilling his contract, silenced his Sutton
persona for good.
[That is the story as it was told to me by Mr. George Garrett,
long a friend of Slavitt. This account may include some fanciful
Garrettesque inaccuracies which I will cherish and refuse to
correct. Scholars dedicated to Truth in Slavitt Studies may
contact the poet himself for emendation.]
Readers unused to Slavitt’s informality and impishness may
have wondered who the hell Sam Vaughan was when he popped
up in the Fourth Georgic. I have focused here on this anecdote
because it is characteristic of Slavitt’s mode of translation-byimitation.
Where Robert Lowell will modernize Juvenal by
emphasizing the literary naturalism of detail, where Johnson will
bend Juvenal to his purposes by slighting specifics and
Stentorizing the tone, Slavitt intrudes and obtrudes his own
personality and private concerns upon his chosen texts.
One of the durable charms of Slavitt’s lines is the sprightly
egoism that can enliven, effervesce, and occasionally
discombobulate them. This method, or quality, takes a little
getting used to. Even a reader unversed in the classics will
understand that Virgil never wrote anything like these lines from
Slavitt’s Second Georgic:
I’m all for it,
Maecenas, old boy. The farms must produce again.
Back to the land! Get the fallow fellow
to follow the furrow....
Whoa, mule!
That’s Slavitt strutting his silliness. But the silliness, the
jokiness, and the numerous autobiographical asides do their job.
132
He is attempting to find an approach, to establish an attitude
through which poems, regarded even by their warmest partisans
as museum pieces, can be made to live and breathe. He rejects as
quaint mummery any pretense of adopting seriously the persona
of the ancient poet, as Ezra Pound does in his Homage to Sextus
Propertius.
Not all of Slavitt’s translations are so cheerfully exhibitionist.
His renditions of Ovid’s Tristia, of Tibullus, and of Prudentius
keep close to the general contours of those works. I’m a little
surprised by his Prudentius; the temptation to interpolate
comment about the anti-Semitism of the Hymns must have been
powerful. His translations closest to their originals are in
Sophocles’ Theban Plays (Yale UP, 2007) and I recommend
especially the Oedipus at Colonnus; it is economical, tightlipped,
and very moving.
But it is Slavitt Unbound who is most interesting, the poet
who adopts text almost as pretext for some performance or other
that is much freer than paraphrase and even freer in some odd
respects than imitation. One might call such a version a capriccio
or fantasia upon a theme by, in our case at hand, Ludovico
Ariosto.
2.
Orlando Furioso: A New Verse Translation was published by
Harvard University Press in 2009. The jacket flap touts Slavitt’s
pages as capturing “the energy, comedy, and great fun of
Ariosto’s Italian,” and this statement is accurate in regard to fun
and energy and much of the comedy. But the relation to
Ariosto’s Italian is inconsistent, to put it mildly. At times the
lineaments of an original stanza may be easily sighted; in other
places, we are six or twelve or twenty degrees from Kevin
Bacon.
Here is Canto III, da capo:
Chi mi darà la voce e le parole
133
Convenienti a si nobil suggetto?
Chi l’ale al verso prestera, che vole
Tanto, ch’arrivi all’alto mio concetto?
Molto maggior di quel furor che suole,
Ben or convien che riscaldi il petto;
Che questa parte al mio Signor al debbe
Che canta gli avi, onde l’origine ebbe....
(22)
Who will lend me a voice or give me the right
words so as to soar as if on wings
in order that I may perform at that great height
and with the proper passion that such things
demand, for I am now about to write
praise of my great lord and master who springs
from the house of Este that most illustrious line
of rulers Heaven has given us to shine.
(40)
“Workmanlike” is the adjective that springs to mind. Slavitt
follows the sense of the original, though his tone is less elevated.
Some details are notable: the pun that the first line break
produces, and the fact that only the fourth, fifth, and eighth lines
are in perfect pentameter. In the others anapests are substituted
for iambs where needed and the initial breve is elided in line
two. This loose scansion is typical of the whole and echoes not
Byron’s Don Juan so much as his Beppo.
For what it is, an introduction to a long account of the history
of the house of Este, a tedious catalogue omitted in most editions
of the poem, Slavitt’s stanza is serviceable.
It is instructive to compare Slavitt’s stanza with Sir John
Harington’s 1591 version of the same:
Oh that my head were so well storde with skill
Of such a noble subject fit to treat.
134
Oh that my wits were equall to my will
To frame a phrase fit for so high conceit.
Ye muses that do hold the sacred hill,
Inspire my heart with flame of learned heat
While I presume in base and lowly verse
The names of glorious Princes to reherse......
(p. 40)
Slavitt has made himself familiar with Harington and finds
him “lively and witty,” but “also rather....Elizabethan.” This
remark implies that his own 2009 attempt strives to be modern in
every way. He names his purpose as “broadening Ariosto’s
Anglophone audience,” which is as worthy a goal as any adaptor
might strive for, say I.
Yet I do take issue with the slighting tone of his
“Elizabethan” adjective. Maybe I’m defensive on the subject.
That will be because I regard Orlando Furioso in English
Heroical Verse, By Iohn Harington as one of the delightful
triumphs of our literature. And I believe others would share my
enthusiastic admiration if I could persuade anyone to read it.
Slavitt remarks that a copy is hard to come by and I have never
been able to afford one for myself. But scarcity is not the
problem. The poem is. The 1972 Oxford edition runs to 557
closely printed pages of ottava rima. That prospect is so
daunting that I could not prevail upon my friend, the brilliant
novelist Donald Harington, even to begin it—and Don was a
direct descendant of Sir John.
Whether it attracts readers or not, the Harington has virtues
and excellences that no other English-language versions
approach. Slavitt in his Translator’s Preface conjectures that the
Orlando ought to appeal to modern readers because of its sense
of fun, its self-consciousness, and its decidedly irreverent take on
the personae who step into it from Arthurian legend. Here is a
sample of the ways he brings these qualities along. In Canto XV,
the knight Astolfo is warned by a saintly hermit that a giant in
these parts deals grisly fates to warriors and that prudence
135
suggests he give the monster “a berth that is very wide.” Our
hero will have none of that:
Prudence he despises, and safety, too.
He’d rather die than seem to avoid a fight.
After all, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do,
and certainly this hold true for any knight.
He puts his life and faith in God’s hands who
will direct his weapons because his cause is right.
After this trial by combat he will then
have made the road much safer for other men.
(313)
Well, this is fun. The story is pushed along and the heroic
character of Astolfo is preserved even as it is fondly burlesqued.
The throwaway pun, “because his cause,” is not distracting and
the John Wayne tag, “a man’s gotta do,” satirizes the posturing
of Astolfo without making him out a clown.
Thus inditeth Harington:
Take then (my sonne) take then this other way
Where with more ease and safetie you may go.
Thanks (gentle Friar) the English Duke doth say,
Yet can I not your counsell follow tho.
Though danger bids go safest way one may,
Yet what saith honour? Honour saith not so.
Let none retire with shame: thus honour saith:
The worst that can befall one is but death......
(XV, 34; p. 168)
Partisans may applaud the Renaissance plenary style; carpers
may point out that the last three lines only pad out tiresomely the
chivalric sentiment, Death Before Dishonor. On the other hand,
Harington neatly folds two lines into one:. “Though danger bids
go safest way one may” renders “Ma non istimo par l’onor
136
periglio, / Di ch’assai piu de la vita cura.” And while
Harington’s steady meter gives his stanzas a fine dignity,
Slavitt’s anapestic playfulness comes nearer the rippling effect of
the Italian. The advantage in dramatic spirit must however go to
Sir John who, with the addition of an obvious personification,
gives Honor three lines of dialogue.
I have chosen a nondescript passage for comparisons. It is
easy to see that both translations have felicities and drawbacks
and as for inspiriting the lines with energy they probably break
about even.
They break even too, I think, in handling the supple but
forceful rhythm. Here Ariosto, Canto XVII, 78: “Portonne il
meglio, e fe’ del resto dono. / Pattolo et Ermo, onde si tra’ l’or
fino......” Here Harington, very freely indeed: “They have the
gold and riches to relieve you....” (stanza 55) And Slavitt, a
shade less freely: “Pactolus’ gold is waiting for you to achieve /
a not very difficult victory over what / is a less well trained force
than we’re used to here......” ) (st. 78) Harington flattens out the
musicality, but Slavitt’s lines lose all trace of meter and are
packed with more syllables than a mouth can mumble or a
tongue can tattle.
Modern poetic usage allows Slavitt rhythmic freedoms
unavailable to most Renaissance poets—always excepting
Shakespeare’s later plays. Harington almost always keeps an
accurate pentameter and is able to achieve all sorts of nifty
effects inside the framework. Canto XXXIII begins with a
catalogue of famous artists of classical ages and Harington
relishes the challenge:
Tymagoras, Parrhasius, Polignote,
Timant, Protogenes, Apollodore,
With Zeusces, one for skill of especiall note,
Apelles eke plast all the rest before
Whose skill in drawing all the world doth note....
(370)
137
No comparison here, for the Slavitt version omits Canto
XXXIII entirely, along with others. The selection seems
arbitrary, for some that are included are less interesting than the
omissions. In fact, “this volume,” the Preface says, includes
“slightly more than half of what Ariosto wrote.” The reason for
the truncated version is the large production cost of a full
version, and it “is also true that with nearly seven hundred pages
here, most appetites will be satisfied.”
For me, that is true. For all of Slavitt’s brio, humor, wit,
foolery and foolishness, for all the attractive, chameleon-like
changes he puts Ariosto through, his length suffices. I shall,
however, protest his selection even as I celebrate his scintillating
approaches.
Most noticeable among these latter are his canny, sometimes
uncanny, and sometimes maladroit placement of anachronisms.
In Canto IX, Orlando finds the invention of firearms “politically
incorrect”(90); a happy moment is hailed, “oh frabjous day!”
(85) in a nod to Lewis Carroll; in a nod to James Thurber,
Orgehetto is cloven “from guggle to zatch” (XIV, 124); Martano
can be played “like a piano” (XVIII, 93); Rodomonte says,
“Wherever I am, people always know / as if a spotlight were on
me with its glow” (XXIII, 36); Astolfo describes his shipboard
accommodations: “I was up on top, first class” (VI, 43); a nod to
Monty Python: “And what do you think happened that night
between / Doralice and Agrican’s son? Do you / think....? (Wink,
wink! Nudge, nudge! Know what I mean?)” (XIV, 63); a nod to
William Blake: “she might / not be lost in the forests of the
night” (XXIII, 7); “No more Mr. Nice” (XXXVI, 57);
“Psychopharmacology / is not my long suit” (XXXIX, 57); “It’s
said that if you build it, they will come” (XXIX, 37).
And so forth. I counted dozens more anachronisms than these
and once I was accustomed to the practice, I looked forward to
finding them. Zest and spice and teasing and inside jokery.
Angelica’s honor is “saved by the bell” (I, 59). Get it? Wink,
wink, nudge, nudge.
An odd but pointed tactic, this use of anachronism: Slavitt is
able, almost to the same degree as Byron, to turn the necessity of
138
rhymes to comic advantage. Ottava rima is a more tyrannical
form in English than in Italian, the Romance language having an
immense advantage in the sheer number of available rhymes.
What can English offer to pair with “campanile”? “Freely”—
okay, not bad. But “Swahili,” a word that Ariosto never could
have encountered? (VII, 1)
Well, why not, if it can be squeezed into context and offer a
small glimmer of humor? One of Ariosto’s catalogues of
warriors with exotic names presents a dare that Slavitt embraces
with boisterous eagerness:
Bavarte, Largalifa, Doriconte,
And Analardo too (great names for a cat!)
are there, and also Archidante (won’t a
rhymester get a break?). But I tip my hat
to him—he is Seguntum’s noble conte.
L’Amirante and Langhiran (now that
is not so bad!) are there, and Malagur.
(Each one I name means there is one fewer.)
(XIV, 16) [p. 272]
Harington ducks the challenge that Slavitt relishes:
The name of many a Duke and Lord and Knight
For brevitie I purpose to omit,
Such as were stout and hardie men in fight,
Such as were wise and politicke in wit,
With th’ Erle Sagunt, Archidant that hight,
Langiran, Ammirant, and Malagit.
There was great Fulliron, Marsilos bastard,
That in that fight did show him selfe no dastard.
(XIV, 15) [p. 152]
Now and again Slavitt indulges in a little Ogden Nashery, as
in VII, 41, where we find “Our poem / can’t tell if it’s in the
xylem or the phloem,” in speaking of the physical location of the
human soul. VII, 20 stands as a tribute to Nash:
139
Ninus at Nineveh never kept so grand
a table, nor did Cleopatra serve
Marc Antony with any finer viand
than what this woman [the witch Alcina], so full of charm
and verve,
set for Ruggiero’s pleasure and
delectation, from the first hors d’oeuvre
down to the last dessert and even the savory
with everything perfectly cooked and very flavory.
Like Byron, Slavitt sometimes addresses the rhyming
problem directly, as at XIV, 41: “(I regret / the awkwardnesses
that these rhymes can beget.)”
This apology is of course but a comic feigning, for the
outlandish rhyming is what gives much of the Slavitt its brash
geniality and dizzy pace. The difficulty inherent in the stanza
form he has made into a happy virtue, for the rhymes afford
opportunity not only for humor in the wording but in attitude and
strategy as well. Here is Ariosto telling us that an evil magician
on his flying horse chooses only the fair virgins to carry off to
his mountaintop castle:
E ne porta con lui tutte le belle
Donne che trova per quelle contrade:
Talmente che le misere donzelle
Ch’abbino o aver si credano beltade
(Come affato costui tuttele invole)......
(IV, 6)
Harington slides over Ariosto’s teasing jest about females
imagining themselves comelier than they may actually appear:
No sooner can he spie a prettie maide
But straight he takes her up into the aire,
The which his custome makes them all affraid
That either are or think that they be faire. (IV, 5)
140
Slavitt, pouring on colloquialism in order to savor the rhymes,
allows the vanity of the tender gender no quarter:
He carries away
all the beautiful women he can find—
which means that any pretty girl must stay
inside if she wishes to be safe. And humankind
being what it is, there are some we’d say
are no more lovely than a pig’s behind,
but out of vanity they keep indoors also.
It isn’t a joking matter. I know. I know.
(IV, 6)
Now that is not a chivalrous reading and evinces no chivalric
attitude. This is a main point of my essay, but before its
unstartling presentation, let us glance at a couple of other types
of jollity that our doughty translator employs.
I have noted a few puns already and will note only a few
others. The first is a fair instance of the modest sort, “He’d steal
me stealthily / away” (XIII, 10); the second is more pointed and
draws upon allusion. Olympia “dies a thousand wretched deaths
instead / of the one who would be quick and leave her dead” (X,
28). Well—maybe just one more.... In XX, 129, Zerbino turns to
an old crone and asks the name of the man who has just bested
him in battle: “He? No / knight at all, but a maiden who, in that
pass, / knocked you off your horse and onto your ass.”
And just for the fun of it, and also in order to suggest some of
the humorous quaintness of the original, terms obscure and
mustily pedantic are sprinkled about: “averruncation,” for
example (XXIX, 38) and “chiliad” (XXIX, 50) and “equitation”
(XXXVI, 22) and “tintamarre” (XIX, 1) and others. For readers
who enjoy Rabelais and Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of
Melancholy, these oddities of diction afford a particular pleasure;
they also underscore Ariosto’s important unseriousness.
So also do Slavitt’s uses of slang and interjection throughout
and these may be discovered and listed by the Slavitt scholar
141
who has space to do so and a taste for these sorts of wordplay.
Not that I disdain them, nor would I name him a dandiprat who
pursues them at length. But me cruel Necessity urgeth onward to
a further point.
3.
Some great works are profoundly unserious. Yet if we list but
a few—Don Quixote, Gargantua and Pantagruel, Byron’s Don
Juan, Love’s Labour’s Lost—we see that they are also very
serious and that part of their serious worth resides in the
skeptical gaze they turn upon the concept of Deep Seriousness in
Human Thought. These are works that do not present a single
stern aspect; they are not like Prometheus Bound or Sophocles’
Theban plays; they are more in the vein of Euripides’ Alcestis
which presents Herakles as both a grand heroic figure and as a
drunken clown. Orlando Furioso is a great poem that stands
proudly in the loftiest tradition; yet it may also be called, as
Slavitt calls it in his Preface, “the greatest cock-and-bull story in
literature.” There are a great many of these, of course. Huon of
Bordeaux is an example and one reason Orlando is a finer thing
is that it is conscious of the fact that it is an outlandish fantasy,
openly self-conscious, as contrasted with, say, The Faerie
Queene, which is an evasively self-conscious work.
Ariosto’s approach is difficult to describe; it is serious but not
solemn, humorous but rarely hilarious, worldly wise but firmly
moral, whimsical but never twee, founded in accepted history
that is largely unhistorical. I might list another dozen contrasting
pairs of qualities and still not come close to setting down a clear
impression of its airs and attitudes.
If it is difficult to describe, how much more difficult it must
be to translate. How much of the action is to be taken at face
value and how much is burlesque? Ariosto has it both ways, but
a translator must nearly despair of bringing that unique
achievement across.
One thing is certain: For all its satire and parody and
burlesque and occas ional sarcasm, Orlando Furioso is wholly
142
informed by the chivalric ideal. The knightly code is admired
and enjoined as faithfully by Ariosto as it is by Spenser, and it
would be a deadly error to read the poem as a Mad Comics satire
on chivalry. Virtue is to be loved, reverence revered, virginity
protected, gallantry is always to be in play, courage is to be
active at all times.
Martial courage is an urgent necessity, for this poem is more
violent than any contemporary action film, lays out more pitched
battles than Homer and Virgil together, and furnishes more
deadly or near deadly private duels than a decade of cowboy
matinee movies. These bloody conflicts are in earnest;
combatants are killed, antagonists and protagonists alike; but at
the same time the doughty deeds are exaggerated beyond even
fanciful limit, overblown with rhetoric, and a little like slowmotion
ballets in their unearthly postures.
Here, in Canto I, Angelica. threatened by Rinaldo, is
defended by the Spanish knight, Ferrau:
E perche era cortese, e n’avea forse
Non men dei dui cugini il petto caldo,
L’aiuto che potea tutte le porse,
Pur come avese l’elmo, ardito e baldo:
Trasse la spada, e minacciando corse
Dove poco di lui temea Rinaldo.
Piu volte s’eran gia non pur veduti,
Ma al paragon de l’arme conosciuti.
Cominciar quivi una crudel battaglia,
Come a pie si trovar, coi brandi ignudi:
Non che le piastre e la minuta maglia,
Ma ai colpi lor non reggerian gl’uncudi.
Or, mentra l’un con l’altro si travaglia,
Bisogna al palafren che ‘l passo studi;
Che, quanto puo menar delle calcagne,
Colei lo caccia al bosco a alia campagna.
(16-17)
143
This is one of the tamer encounters, less bloody than most,
but swift and exciting and with humorous overtones in the
description of Angelica departing the fray with all dispatch.
Harington is solid here:
And being both a stout and courteous knight
And love a little kindling in his brest,
He [Ferrau] promist straight to ayd her all he might
And to performe whatever she request,
And though he want a helmet, yet to fight
With bold Renaldo he will do his best,
And both the one the other straight defied,
Oft having either others value tried.
Betweene them two a combat fierce began
With strokes that might have pierst the hardest rocks.
While they thus fight on foote and man to man
And give and take so hard and heavie knocks,
Away the damsel posteth all she can;
Their paine and travell she requites with mocks.
So hard she rose while they were at their fight
That she was clear escaped out of sight.
(16-17)
Harington’s muted abstractions increase the humor; Ariosto
says that Angelica hid away in the bordering woods, but “cleane
escaped out of sight” is funnier because it directs the joke back
on the oblivious combatants. And now Slavitt.
It is not merely knightly courtesy
but love for her that burns in his bosom that
makes him offer his aid and protection. He
is as bold as if [he] had not lost his hat.
He and Rinaldo had both fought manfully
and tried each other’s swords and mettle at
many times and places, thrusting and smiting.
144
And here Rinaldo appears. They resume their fighting.
Boom! Clank! They go at each other striking steel
on steel, and it sounds like a couple of blacksmiths
pounding on a pair of anvils rather than chain mail
and armor, each of their mighty blows resounding
throughout the woodland like a thunder peal.
But while they are engaged in this astounding
struggle, Angelica turns her palfrey’s face
in another direction, and she rides off apace.
(16-17)
Slavitt retains Ariosto’s smithy and anvil. Did Harington
delete them for seeming too “low” in a chivalric context? That is
a possibility, for there are other places where Sir John elevates or
obscures or omits homely terms. These are the points Slavitt
relishes and the contrast between the knightly ideal and a humble
reality animates a great many of his lines. It is a contrast he often
exaggerates for the sake of burlesque, but also, I think, from a
further motive.
Perhaps another comparison may help to clarify my
conjecture. In Canto XXXVI Ruggiero readies himself to take
the field against his beloved Bradamante. (An explanation would
require several paragraphs.) But he dawdles, lovesick, and is
tardy. So the warrior maid MaRFI.fr/" target="_blank">RFIsa, anxious for glory,
impetuously goes first.
Salta a cavallo, e vien spronando in fretta
Ove nel campo la figlia d’Amone
Con palpitante cor Ruggiero aspetta,
Desiderosa farselo prigione:
E pensa solo ove la lancia metta,
Perche del colpo abiia minor lesione.
MaRFI.fr/" target="_blank">RFIsa se ne vien fuor de la porta,
E sopra l’elmo una Fenice porta...... (17)
She leaps on her horse (which is no easy thing
145
with all that metal) and spurs it onto the field
where Bradamante waits with fluttering
heart for Ruggiero. (Will he yield
and become her prisoner so they can cling
together forever, their troths plighted and sealed?)
But out of the gate MaRFI.fr/" target="_blank">RFIsa comes instead,
a phoenix on the helmet on her head. (16)
In this instance, Slavitt steers very near the coastline of
Ariosto’s meaning. What we might take for burlesque
(“fluttering / heart”) is in the Italian, although the phrases about
their clinging together forever are not. He omits Bradamante’s
plan to give Ruggiero the lightest of wounds. The last two lines
are pretty close to Dryden’s “metaphrase” in their literal
signification. But what difference in tone! Whatever dignity the
simple statement by Ariosto has is shredded by the deliberate
bathos of “on the helmet on her head.”
I use the term “bathos” in its eighteenth-century sense of
“sinking” in poetry, that is, of giving a perfectly obvious detail
or incident more significance than it ever can have. Yes, “on her
head.” Where else?
Another instance occurs in Canto XXXVIII, 71, where
Bradamante is fearful for her beloved: “If Ruggiero is killed, her
own heart will / be mortally wounded (although it may not
bleed.)” In XV, 3, bathos is used for sarcastic effect, where
Rodomonte’s lack of strategy is remarked:
This is what the pagan did not know
how to do, for he urged his men ahead
they ended up in the ditch suffering so.
Eleven thousand and twenty-eight were dead
in just a few minutes. Even as these things go,
this was a total catastrophe, it may be said.
Harington presents the event more or less according to
source—and does not undercut it:
146
The pagan Rodomont did want this skill,
That forst ten thousand men the trench to enter
By his commandment sore against their will
Upon so perilous a place to venter
Where straight the smother doth their bodies kil.....
[Slavitt reproduces Ariosto’s body count; Harington rounds it
off.]
I could cite scores of such instances of similar burlesquing,
undercutting, satirizing, sarcastic rendering and mocking
deflation of incident, character, rhetorical flourish, epic tradition,
and ceremonial stateliness. There is much downsizing in
Harington, though perhaps less than in the mother text. In Slavitt
it is rarely absent.
The continual deflating of chivalric convention in Slavitt’s
version is an attempt to render Ariosto’s much gentler skeptical,
and often satirical, attitude. For the Italian maestro, the postures,
improbabilities, impossibilities, extravagances, and utter humbug
of the tradition are exposed but not rejected. His knights are a
little ridiculous, but they are not buffoons. The marvels—magic
swords, dragon steeds, evil spells, and so forth—are present
mostly for entertainment value, but they never divest themselves
entirely of allegorical moral intention. Orlando Furioso is
gigantically silly, but it is not nonsense; it is a fantasy that is
grounded in an ideal social reality, the one depicted in
Castiglione’s Il Cortigiano. That immanent social reality is
available to Sir John in the sixteenth century but not to David
Slavitt in the twenty-first.
That makes all the difference, for it is the difference between
being inside the ideational framework and being outside it, the
difference between laughing with and laughing at someone or
something. There is no way I can imagine that Slavitt could truly
respect, much less revere, that high chivalric code. Harington
comes close, being nearer the tradition. He was well acquainted
with Spenser and as faithful as possible to the unworldly ideals
of his masterpiece. From Harington’s approach Slavitt is barred
by history, sociology, philosophy, and temperament. He’s a jolly
147
good fellow, our David is, but a courtier is nowhere to be found
in his makeup.
So the choice of poking fun at Olde Chivalrie was probably
the only strategy open to him. Perhaps that is the single tactic
any contemporary poet-translator would be able to use. When
that choice is made, a very great deal is lost, though of course
some advantages accrue.
But it is the difference between Don Quixote and A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Cervantes is critical
of the tradition, but he is also crucial to it. For Twain, it is all
flapdoodle and malarkey that clueless fools subscribe to. David
Slavitt’s Orlando falls perhaps somewhere between these two
distant boundaries. He has immense respect for Ariosto’s
accomplishment but little for his materials.
In his European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, Ernst
Robert Curtius offers this estimate: “By its perfection of form, its
variety, its music, its mood, the Orlando Furioso puts the epics
of Petrarch and Boccaccio in the shade. It is the one work of
Italian poetry which can be set beside the great painting of the
cinquecento.” I can’t help wondering if Dr. Curtius would cling
to his opinion if he encountered Slavitt, XX, 101:
They reach La Spezia, the captain’s home port where
he lands and gives thanks to God for his safe return.
The party finds another vessel there
ready to sail for France, and when they learn
this they are delighted. The fare is fair
and they put out with Italy far astern
and in short order they approach Marseilles
and are happy after traveling all that weilles.
4.
I was never going to conclude this essay attempt on such a
Groucho-esque note as this last citation. I had planned to
showcase one of Slavitt’s more formal, statelier passages by
148
quoting at some length from his Sophocles or maybe his Seneca.
But while I was considering alternatives, there plunked into my
already over-plunked mailbox The Latin Eclogues by Giovanni
Boccaccio, published 2010 by John Hopkins, and this arrival
offered a better choice for a number of reasons.
Here was an opportunity for our industrious classicist to
return to the pastoral mode, and in a very different manner than
he had assumed in 1972. In his Translator’s Preface, he speaks of
this difference: “When I did a version, many years ago, of
Virgil’s eclogues, I took liberties, mixed his poetry with my own
commentary, and presented what were essentially a series of
verse essays on the original poems.” His rationale was that Virgil
was well known and that more faithful translations were
plentiful. With the rather obscure pastorals of Boccaccio, Slavitt
takes a variant course. He interpolates commentary but sets his
own remarks in italics, easily distinguishable from the poems
proper.
His commentary is welcome, for it consists mostly of glosses
explaining the historical and Christian elements that the bucolic
mode allegorizes. For many if not most readers trecento Italian
history is dimly remembered, if it were ever studied. So it is
handy to be reminded of the facts about the Grand Seneschal
Roberto Capanni, about Pope Clement VI, and Louis of Taranto
and King Ludwig and Barbato da Sulmona and many another
figure now consigned to dust and Google.
His glosses also recall to us the classical mythology we may
have disremembered, the stories of Silenus, Hercules,
Polyphemus, and so many others we probably knew better in our
schooldays than in maturity. Along with identifications of
mythological and historical figures, Slavitt reveals the Christian
notables whom the allegories represent. Deucalion, for example,
is also Noah; Archipater is Abraham; chaste Diana the B. V. M.,
and so on.
This classical-Christian-historical-political background for
pastoral poetry was a settled convention by the time Boccaccio
took it up, ca. 1342. It lasted for a good while longer, but
scholars generally accept Petrarch and Boccaccio as the last great
149
masters of the genre. I expect that for most readers nowadays the
form is more a curiosity than a lively creation.—Not that pastoral
poetry with political over- and undertones is in mortal peril;
Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry, among others, see to its nurture
continually, and the convention of shepherds (or cowherds)
amorous upon one another is current in the film Brokeback
Mountain.
Still, the conventions are remote enough that clarification is
helpful. Here is how Slavitt manages in XII, Saphos. The
shepherd Aristaeus is speaking to the Muse Calliope in Roman
type; the translator interpolates in italics:
Silvanus met Minciades yesterday where the Sorge
River arises to wind its way through sleepy Vaucluse.
In the shade of an ancient holm oak, they sat together and
talked.
Silvanus is the pastoral name that Petrarch takes
for himself; Minciades is Virgil (from the name of Mantua’s
river).
The Vaucluse is a part of Provence where Petrarch lived for a
time.
This is an efficient and sensible way to handle the problems.
The information wedges in neatly and the distress of intrusion is
lessened because Slavitt has set his remarks in the same meter as
the rendition of Boccaccio’s verse, a lively approximation of
Latin hexameter. As usual, his meter is loose; the highly
anapestic line, as in Aristaeus’ third, may become elsewhere a
six-beat iambic, as in VIII, Midas: “in 1355 and 1362.” [p. 56]
But our man is often irrepressible and it could not be expected
that every interpolation would be merely instructive. In speaking
of the defenestration of Andrew, husband of Queen Joan, he sees
it as no natural death: “Think of the odds / against that kind of
thing in the trecento in Naples.” A note on the herb dittany gives
him an excuse to air again his theory that no pastoral poetry is
actually about farming but always about the Ars Poetica:
150
Virgil didn’t know beans about farming—even growing
beans—he swotted it up from his Hesiod and took pride
in not having any firsthand knowledge. Boccaccio knew
at least this single fact, and it was pleasing to make
his shepherd sound like a shepherd.
Another identification of a shepherdly name leads to a further
comment: “Menalcas is almost certainly Zanobi da Strata, of
whom / Boccaccio seems to think often, although not much.”
My favorite of these more personal glosses is the revelation of
the real-life identity of the nymph Nysa, in IV Doras:
Nysa is Queen Joan’s sister Maria. She is a widow
now that Charles of Durazzo’s head has been lopped off.
She did indeed flee to the monks at Santa Croce.
From there disguising herself in the habit of one of the
monks
she went to France, which was safe and where she was
able to wait
for Naples’ weather to change. This melodramatic stuff
can’t easily be managed in eclogues, which is a shame.
It isn’t every night that you meet a pregnant monk.
And now finally an example of what we might designate as
Slavitt in his comfort zone. This passage is from XII Saphos in
which Calliope has spoken of a breed of fellows she calls
“troublemakers,” “Ericolas,” those who stir up strife against the
art of poetry. The shepherd Aristaeus claims not to understand
what she means, he being only an ignorant herdsman:
Non satis accipio qui sint. Tu, credo, Platoni,
nympha, putes nunc verba loqui magnove Ligurgo:
rusticus et paucis assuetus, nympha, rudisque.
151
The muse replies with a detailed description of these rascals
who take advantage of simple folk and who cheat the farmers in
particular:
Qui nuper raptas pecudos ex ore luporum
dentibus excerpunt, magnos audentque boatus
vendere simplicibus; qui sese noscere causas
infecti pecoris, fontes herbasque salubres,
et celi mutare vices nemorumque fatentur;
qui superum sedes describunt voce superbi,
et sentire deuum sensus causaque moventes
in silva fulmen, sacra atque piacula dicunt.
But what have shepherds to do with farming? Aristaeus asks.
Each to his own discipline, his own trade—although he would
still like to climb Parnassus to hear the music of Saphos (who
stands, of course, for Sappho):
Quid precor, agricolis est cum pastore? Per agros
ille boves terram cogit rescindere aratro,
his cogit virga pecudes in pascua; cogit
vinitor ut certo consistant ordine vites,
lac premit iste manu quod sumpsit ab ubere pingui
rancidulus: nil ergo videt de iure bubulci
rusticus, et pastor nescit de more bufulci.
Nullum sorte sua contentum liquit Erinis;
hinc peragunt rixas tauri sevique leones.
Sed da, queso, viam qua passim lenius alta
scandere Parnasi Saphonque videre canentem.
This passage does not represent Boccaccio at his most earnest
or most elevated. The allegory is maybe a little too thin and the
debate doesn’t make logical sense. But its main interest in this
case is the workmanship of the lines; they glide along easily and
without undue strain and they get the story told. If the bubulci /
bufulci rhyme is infelicitous, it may have been a tiny jest. The
author of The Decameron is much more celebrated for his
152
vernacular (“volgare”) compositions than for his Latin, a fact
which might dismay him if he were around today.
His Latin style has gained a respectable swelling of applause
as well as a bleating chorus of detractors. I am reminded of how
Sir Walter Scott was mercilessly hounded for getting a metrical
scansion wrong. This catastrophe occurred when he improvised a
Latin epigram while mounting a horse to go a-hunting. I would
remind those who complain about Boccaccio that for him Latin
was still a living language, still in wide usage all across the
literate world in both spoken and written form, and therefore in
process of change, as our lively tongues always are.
David Slavitt reproduces the tone, I think, with a diction that
steers between informal and formal usage, edging toward the
latter. He catches the Italian’s exasperation in the one speaker
and the “Colin Clout” faux naive persona of Aristaeus. Here is
the sort of lightly learned version an urbane poet might set down
while reading through the text and buffing his fingernails:
CALLIOPE
There are men who can save cattle the wolves have snatched
away
and are famous for their elaborate speechifying. Others
claim to know the causes of various ailments afflicting
cows and sheep and tell us which are the healthy springs,
and boast that they can alter the fates and change the forest’s
fortunes. These are proud and serious people who say
where the gods live and what they want and how to behave
to avoid their wrath. They know the expiatory rites
that can keep the thunderbolts of angry heaven from
striking.
These not unentertaining descriptions apply to lawyers
and then to physicians you don’t expect to find in the
woods.
153
ARISTAEUS
What would they know of the delicate art of singing? Farmers
drive their oxen through fields and cleave the earth with a plow,
while shepherds urge their sheep into pastures using a crook.
Neither has any idea how the other works and lives.
The vintner tends his vines that are growing in orderly rows,
and the cheese maker milks his sheep or goats or cows and produces
his smelly cheeses. None is aware of the others, and none
is content with his own life. This is why bulls and lions
hate each other. Contempt such as you describe is not
altogether surprising. But please show me the way
by which I can climb Parnassus to behold Saphos singing.
154
CONTRIBUTORS
Ukrainian Poets:
The prolific writer, translator and essayist from Ivano-
Frankivsk Yuri Andrukhovych (born 1960) is one of
Ukraine’s most outstanding prose writers and intellectuals, and
is best known for his novel Perverzion (1996). He began his
literary activities as a member of the popular Bu-Ba-Bu
literary performance group… Traditionalist poet Natalka
Bilotserkivets (1954) from the city of Lviv emerged as one of
the strongest new women’s voices of the crossover post-Soviet
generation… Vasyl Herasymiuk (1956) is a prominent poet
and editor from the Carpathian Mountains region. He was born
in Karaganda, where his family was exiled by the Soviets. He
is the winner of the Pavlo Tychyna Prize (1998) and the
Shevchenko Prize (2003) for his poetry… Comic and
performance poet Nazar Honchar (1964-2009) was a living
cultural icon of the city of Lviv and member of the LuHoSad
group of arrière-garde poets… Kyivan poet, children’s writer
and cultural historian Oleh Ilchenko (1957) has broken with
traditional Ukrainian poetry, finding his poetic voice in free
verse. He is the author of seven books of poetry… Poet,
painter and sculptor, Oleh Lysheha (1949) from Tysmenytsia
in the Ivano-Frankivsk region was exiled to Buryatia by Soviet
authorities and emerged in print only in the late 1980s. His
collection The Selected Poems of Oleh Lysheha (Harvard
University Press, 1999), translated by James Brasfield,
received the 2000 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation…
Originally from Ternopil, Ukraine, the poet, translator and
essayist Vasyl Makhno (1964) now resides in the New York
City area. His collection Thread (2009) appeared with Spuyten
Duyvill Publishers in Orest Popovych’s translations and
earned the American Association of Ukrainian Studies
Translation Prize… Ivan Malkovych (1961) is a poet,
translator and prominent children’s book publisher originally
from the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine…Bohdana
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Matiyash (1982) is a poet, editor, translator, and literary critic
from Kyiv and the author of two books of poetry…The Kyivan
poet and children’s writer Attila Mohylny (1963-2008) is best
known for his highly innovative free-verse collection Contours
of the City (1990) … Kost Moskalets is the author of four
books of poetry and numerous works of fiction and essays. He
has won seven awards for his poetry including the Vasyl Stus
Award…Viktor Neborak (1961) is a poet, essayist and prose
writer from Lviv, Ukraine and one of the cofounders of the
Bu-Ba-Bu performance group. His collection of poems The
Flying Head (1990) is one of the most innovative collections
to have appeared in the last quarter century in Ukraine…
Hanna Osadko (1978) is a poet, editor, philologist, and
illustrator from Ternopil in Western Ukraine… Maria
Rewakowicz, poet, translator and literary scholar, has
authored four poetry collections in Ukrainian and two in
translation. Her poems and translations have appeared in Agni,
Modern Haiku, Cyphers, Modern Poetry in Translation,
among others. At present, she is a visiting lecturer in the
Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of
Washington, and resides in Seattle… Ihor Rymaruk (1958-
2008) was a poet of the 1980s generation and longtime literary
editor of the Kyivan journal Suchasnist…Maryana Savka
(1973), from the city of Lviv, is one of the younger generation
poets who emerged from the Ukrainian cultural renaissance of
the 1990s. She is the author of four books of poetry including
the chapbook Eight Notes from the Blue Angel (Arrowsmith
Press, 2007) translated by Askold Melnyczuk…Borys
Shchavursky (1961) is a poet, essayist and translator from the
city of Ternopil…The poet Iryna Shuvalova (1986) earned
her degree in the Philosophy Faculty at Taras Shevchenko
National University and works in Kyiv as a journalist… Poet
and prose writer Ludymla Taran (1954) is from the city of
Lviv and currently resides in Kyiv where she works as a
journalist…Mariya Tytarenko (1981) is a poet, instructor of
journalism, and journalist from Lviv. She recently received the
Bohdan Ihor Antonych Prize (2010) for the best manuscript of
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poetry by a poet under 28 years of age…Prolific author
Oksana Zabuzhko (1960), originally from Lutsk, is one of
Ukraine’s leading prose writers as well as a poet, essayist, and
philosophy scholar. Her novel Field Work in Ukrainian Sex
(1996) caused a sensation in Ukraine for its candidness on
previously taboo subjects…Poet, prose writer and essayist
Serhiy Zhadan (1974), who resides in Kharkiv, is one of the
most significant new voices to emerge in the period of
independent Ukraine…
The Translators:
Mark Andryczyk completed his Ph.D. at the University of
Toronto and is a leading expert on contemporary Ukrainian
literature. He currently teaches at Columbia University where
he organizes the Ukrainian studies program lecture
series…Svitlana Bednazh is an interpreter, translator, editor
and publisher, who resides in Cambridge, England…Larysa
Bobrova is a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Linguistics at The
Pennsylvania State University and former Head of the
Translation Studies Department at Horlivka State Pedagogical
University… James Brasfield is a poet, translator and Senior
Lecturer in the creative writing program at The Pennsylvania
State University. His most recent book of poems is Ledger of
Crossroads (Louisiana State University Press, 2009) …Sarah
Luczaj is a British poet, translator and psychotherapist, living
in rural Poland since 1997. Her chapbook, An Urgent Request,
came out in 2009 with Fortunate Daughter Press…Michael M.
Naydan is Woskob Family Professor of Ukrainian Studies at
The Pennsylvania State University and a prolific translator
from Ukrainian and Russian. He has published eighteen books
in translation, the latest The Essential Poetry of Bohdan Ihor
Antonych: Ecstasies and Elegies (Bucknell University Press,
2010). With Olha Luchuk he coedited the anthology A
Hundred Years of Youth: A Bilingual Anthology of Ukrainian
Poetry (Litopys Publishers, 2000) …Dzvinia Orlowsky is a
poet, editor and translator who resides in the Boston area. She
157
is the author of four books of poetry and the winner of the
2010 Sheila Motton Book Award for her collection
Convertible Night, Flurry of Stones (Carnegie Mellon
University Press, 2009)…The poems of Wanda Phipps have
appeared in over a hundred publications. Her books of poetry
include: Field of Wanting: Poems of Desire (BlazeVOX,
2008)…Orest Popovych is Professor Emeritus of Brooklyn
College and a leading chess expert. He is President of the
Shevchenko Scientific Society…Virlana Tkacz is a writer,
translator and the artistic director of Yara Arts Group at La
MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York. For over twenty
years she has worked with African-American poet Wanda
Phipps translating stories, poetry and folks songs from
Ukrainian, which she stages with Yara and local artists…Olha
Tytarenko is a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto and
the sister of poet Mariya Tytarenko.
Writers In English:
Fred Chappell, Poet Laureate of North Carolina 1997-
2002, numbers among his awards the Sir Walter
Raleigh Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Bollingen Prize
in Poetry, the Prix de Meilleur des Livres Etrangers
(Best Foreign Book Prize) from the Academie
Francaise, the Mihai Eminescu Medal from the
Republic of Moldova, and the Thomas Wolfe Prize. He
has authored over thirty volumes of poetry, fiction and
literary essays, most recently Shadow Box (poetry, LSU
Press, 2009) and Ancestors and Others: New and
Selected Stories (St. Martin’s Press, 2009)… Michael
Dennison lives in Beirut, Lebanon, where he teaches at
the American University of Beirut. He has published
poetry in Frank, Van Gogh´s Ear, Slab and other
magazines. His literary study on the figure of the
vampire, Vampirism: Literary Tropes of Decadence
and Entropy, was published in 2002…Samuel Gray is
currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University
158
of Alabama, where he teaches classes in creative
writing, literature, and organic farming. This is his first
publication… Ulf Kirchdorfer was born in Sweden
and moved to the U.S. when he was a teenager. His
publications include Harvard Review, Poetry Daily, and
Connecticut Review… Kirk Nesset is author of two
books of short stories, Paradise Road (University of
Pittsburgh Press, 2007) and Mr. Agreeable (Mammoth
Press, 2009), as well as a book of translations, Alphabet
of the World (University of Oklahoma Press), and a
nonfiction study, The Stories of Raymond Carver (Ohio
University Press, 1995). His book of poems, Saint X
(Lewis Clark Press), is forthcoming. He is recipient of
the Drue Heinz Prize in Literature, a Pushcart Prize,
and grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
His stories, poems and translations have appeared in
The Paris Review, Southern Review, Kenyon Review,
Gettysburg Review, American Poetry Review, Iowa
Review, Ploughshares, Agni, Prairie Schooner and
elsewhere. He teaches creative writing and literature at
Allegheny College.
About The Cover:
Mykola Kumanovsky is a well-known artist from
Lutsk in Western Ukraine. "Dance on a Fence" is from
his extraordinary series of lyrical, often whimsical,
Cossack paintings…
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