Two poems

Transitions №4

Author: Yury Gudumak

Translated by Angelina Saule

The great synthesis of knowledge

The great synthesis of knowledge occurred much earlier.
At the very moment man thought up monsters,
made of a head and a crown of the rooster, a lizard’s tail,
wings of the swan and birds’ paws with a heel,
similar to how darkness unites all things,
we end up with a basilisk. This is the way
half-women, half-lionesses, half-fish, half-birds
and other monsters appear. They are also gods: eagle-eyed,
snake-legged, dog-headed, hundred-armed… There’s no
point in enumerating, for all of them,
begotten by shaken contents of the mind,
as the Greeks used to do it, mixing water and wine,
they all had life breathed into them.

We can see how, unable to become dreams of our contemporaries,
some guinea-swine, a whangdoodle, a whale fish,
develops a sail, a community of winged serpents
looks more and more like airplanes by Mozhaysky
and Wright brothers, and, leafing through an old bestiary
in a pale pink binding, we read about a train:
“Amphisbaene: a snake with two heads – in the front and on its tail.
It moves in any direction without turning.
It does not freeze in the winter. Its eyes glisten like oil lamps.”
A little further – and in a bonnacon,
igniting everything around it with its excrements,
the principle of the reactive engine is revealed.

As a matter of fact, that’s the way we barbarians perceive
all these evolutionary gimmicks – like the monsters above.
Both of them have common epithets.
We have the right to say about both kinds:
heartless, cold, cruel.
What’s more, willy-nilly it becomes clear to us that
we can’t do without an allegory. Since if it is a crowd,
it is hundred-mouthed; if we talk about cities, they devour those crowds.
And reality acquires monstrous features.

The Nike of Samothrace, who came to us
winged and headless, rather inspire awe.
The beautiful requires frightening comparisons, like that
Chinese beauty who is beyond simple description:
her “brows are like halcyon’s wings”,
a waist is “like a roll of pure silk”,
teeth look “as if she was holding shells in her mouth”.
We are scraping through the industrial landscape,
and what do we see? A Chinese scarecrow. Because
it originated from the beauty spoken of above.

That is how we move closer to poetry.
This is how the great synthesis of knowledge, reeking of the ancient world,
uniting the incompatible, reveals itself
in the pin-joint of letters, merging with the pin-joint of words
and so on and so forth, generating eventually,
though in a metaphorical form, monsters.
Poetry in this sense is monstrous,
the main point being that both poetic incantation
and enchanted reality have the same purpose:
to deafen, to charm, to petrify.

Ancient rhymed texts


Wasps are biting into a tainted bunch of grapes
with the frenzy of their cinched waists.


From the depths of hazel-groves –
there’s a buzz they were planted by a crow –
dampness draws on.


The bough springs, tuning to aquilon,
like a sound of a bow-string being shaken off… or a string –


the bow of a string, when it’s time to tell fortune by the face,
passing off one as the other equally
anxiety and serenity.


Like an answer, lying on the surface, a butter-fly settles
on a yellow patch


of a hornweed –


so noiselessly that it seems it’s playing
with quotes of the dead, similar here, like nowhere,
to the silence of graveyards.


A cicada with its almost Chinese, alien “tsi-tsi”
is still singing tsi-tsi, tsi-tsi, Tsitsihar…
hoping to exchange


four seasons


into four cardinals.


God-forsaken places exist
in order to find something in them, don’t they?
It’s true that lost things are looked for there, isn’t it?


Leaning against the rugged door-post, looking
to the faded distance, I’m making braids from sprouts of leek.
I’d better store some more


wine and sheep cheese for winter.
Such is the custom here, in the terminal end land, claiming that
sheep cheese goes best with wine.


What wonderful rags have been sculpted by these winds and rains

Первая публикация:
По русскому словоглобусу. Across the Russian Wor(l)d: Сб. стихотворений / составители-переводчики: А. Саул, Е. Свиридова, И. Чудасов. – СПб.: Свое издательство, 2015. – С. 22-29.