Hamlet’s Dialogue with his Conscience

-She’s at the riverbed, in algae, covered
With weeds… She went to sleep there,
But there’s no dream! How did it happen?
-But I loved her,
Loved more than forty thousand brothers
Ever could have loved!
-Hamlet!

She’s at the riverbed in algae, covered
With algae!… And her final garland has
Surfaced by the bank upon a log…
- But I loved her,
Loved more than forty thousand…
-Still less
Than just a single lover could have loved.

She’s at the riverbed, with algae covered.
- But I -
(bewildered)
loved her??

You walk, somewhat like myself

You walk, somewhat like myself,
Hunched, and not looking up.
I used to lower my eyes as well!
Stop here, passerby, stop!

Having gathered your flowers in a
Bouquet, read the stone by the gate,
It will say – I was named Marina,
And I lived to the following date.

It’s a grave, but don’t treat it as such
My spirit won’t rise to haunt you
I, myself, loved laughing too much
Whenever I wasn’t supposed to.

My hair was once curled and twisted
And blood used to rush to my face.
Hey, passerby, I also existed!
Do not rush to abandon this place!

Hey passerby, pluck a wild stem
And after that – pick this berry.
No berries are sweeter than
The ones from a cemetery.

Only don’t stand there, sighing,
And please, do not hang your head.
But rather think of me lightly
And afterwards, likewise, forget.

How the sun shines down upon you!
Its rays set the dust aglow.
And don’t let my voice disturb you
And vex you from down below.

You, walking past me and racing

You, walking past me and racing
After charms that you’ll hardly attain, -
If you knew how much fire is wasted,
How much life is wasted in vain!

And what flames, so heroically rash,
An occasional shade can evoke,
And how my heart was burnt into ash
By this useless gunpowder smoke.

O, those trains leaving terminals nightly,
Carrying sleep wherever they go …
Then again, it’s rather unlikely
That you’d know, even if you would know -

Why my speeches are sharp and brief,
In the smoke of my cigarette, -
How much dark and menacing grief
Is crammed in my golden-haired head.

We cross the squares, in fright

We cross the squares, in fright,
Past the nighttime towers.
O, how scary, in the night,
To hear young soldiers’ shouts!

Let the heart thunder, loud!
Let love kiss, fiery hot!
O, these bestial shouts!
How insolent! – their blood.

My lips are ready to flare
Despite the saintly face.
The Iverskaya glares
As though a golden case!

Hey, end this mischief, stop!
Instead, set a candle alight
So that you don’t end up
Just as I wish you might.

When I look at leaves — flying, rushing

When I look at leaves — flying, rushing
Down to the cobble paving,
Being brushed aside – as if by an artist
Who is finally finishing his painting,

I keep thinking (everyone is surprised by
How I look; as thoughtful as autumn),
That one strikingly yellow, decisively rusty —
One such leaf on the very top is — forgotten.

1936

© Translated by Alexandra Smith  

more about the translator

Where does such tenderness come from?

Where does such tenderness come from?
These curls that I stroke with my hand
Aren’t the first that I’ve stroked, and I
Knew lips that were darker than yours.

Stars rose in the sky and faded,
Where does such tenderness come from? –
And glowing eyes also rose and faded
Right next to my own two eyes.

And I used to listen to greater hymns
In complete darkness, at night,
Betrothed – Oh, tenderness! -
On the chest of the singer himself.

Where does such tenderness come from,
And what do I do with it, you, sly,
Adolescent, vagabond singer,
Whose eyelashes couldn’t be longer?