Thursday, February 13, 2014

Russian poetry: "Never" by Afansy Fet

(from Russian Poets, reviewed earlier)

 by Afansy Fet  (trans A.Myers)

And I awoke. A lidded coffin - fingers
Thrust upward with an effort and I scream
For help. Ah, yet the recollection lingers
Of deathbed throes - but this is not a dream!
Like parting cobwebs, almost without trying
I burst the rotted boards where I was lying

And rose. How sharp it seemed, this winter light
Outside the entrance! All doubt was confounded -
I saw the snow. No door denied my sight.
I set off home. Would they not be astounded?
The park I knew, my footsteps never faltered.
Yet all appeared so strangely altered!

I ran through snowdrifts. Deathly trees stood chill,
Their motionless great branches high and airy,
But not a track, no wisper. All was still.
The kingdom of the dead in lands of faerie.
The house at last. A scene of ruination!
My arms dropped to my sides in desolation.

The village slept beneath a shroud of snow.
No path was there on all the land around it.
Yes, there it lies; the little church I know,
The hill, the ancient tower where bells resounded.

Like a pilgrim, snow-grit, climbing high,
It rises clear against the cloudless sky.

No winter birds, no insects spot the snow.
I realised: the earth had long since frozen
And perished thus. To whom, then did I owe
The breath within me? Wherefore was I chosen
To make this journey? My mind's intuition
Was linked with what? And what was its commission?

Where shall I go, where no embraces can be?
Where time combines with space to lose its meaning?
Return then, Death, haste to gather me,
The fateful burden, living's final gleaning.
And thou, the frozen corpse of the earth, fly on
And bear my corpse for aye when aye I am gone.


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