Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Darling, It’s Frightening


Darling, It’s Frightening
Boris Pasternak (1890-1960)
Trans. J. M. Cowen


Darling, it's frightening!

When a poet loves he might be an unshriven god enraptured.

And chaos creeps again up to the light,

as in the far off ages of the fossils.

His eyes weep tons of billows and he's swathed in cloud,

so that you'd take him for a mammoth.

He's out of date.

He knows it's no more use.

His days are over now and he's illiterate.

He sees the way his neighbors hold their weddings,

how they get roaring drunk and sleep it off,

how they call common roe -

that pickled frogspawn,

once she's been married off, the best pressed caviar.

And how they manage to squeeze in a snuff-box life that is like

a pearly dream by Watteau.

They take revenge on him;

perhaps it's only because,

while they are twisting and contorting,

while sniggering bourgeois comfort lies and flatters

and they rub shoulders with the drones and crawl,

he's raised a girl like you from earth and used her,

like a Bacchante from her amphora.

And thawing of the Andes melts in kisses and morning's on the steppe,

beneath the dominion of stars that fall in dust,

as night goes stumbling with bleat growing ever paler,

through the village.

And round the straw bed's fevered pain breathe

all the exhalations of the ancient pit

and all the vestry's gloomy vegetation.

And chaos splashes up out of the jungle.

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