This is an excerpt from the “Guest on a Horse” poem:
Sleek and simple was the stallion
As transparent as a stream.
Long of mare and hurried temper,
Said that he would like some cream.
“I’m the chairman of this meeting!
Come to join you and parley.
Teach me what to do, Creator!”
God replied to him, “Okay.”
Then the stallion took a stand
And I looked into his hand.
He wasn’t frightening!
And I realized then, I sinned.
God had taken from me matter:
Body, consciousness and will.
Everything came back to me.
In the boiling pot was winter;
In the stream a prison’s chill.
In the flower there was sickness.
In the june bug – strife, discord.
None of it made sense to me.
Could it be you’re absent, God?
If you read more about who Vvedensky was – and how he ended up – the goosebumps will be more plentiful.
Once again, this is a very liberal translation, but that’s precisely why I like it.
I often wonder where a mind like Vvedensky’s goes after death. You can imagine it to be a kind of mind that doesn’t entirely leave the landscape. I was once walking back from a wedding on a summer night in the Middle of Nowhere, Vladimir region, Russia, and as the tall grass swayed in the breeze on either side of the path, someone said, “The grass is full of dead poets” – and it was the truest thing I’d ever heard about that place.
3 thoughts on “Anna Arutunyan does a liberal translation of Alexander Vvedensky”
Thank you for the beauty. Always.
Extraordinary poet and translation. The grass is full of dead poets.
“And you? Remember how the crickets came
Out of their mother grass like little kin
In the pale nights, when your first imagery
Found inklings of your bonds to all that dust”
— Wallace Stevens, from Le Monocle de Mon Oncle
Where does anyone’s mind go after death?