Transitions №1

Author: Julia Nemirovskaya

Translations by Dmitry Manin

* * *
A strange one lives in me, I feel him:
Sometimes he gets to turn my head,
Sometimes he runs my hand to write,
Or makes the dark his home.
Why should I be someone’s unfreedom,
Whose spirit, used to loftier heights,
Is stuck in me, swathed in my body —
Whom death would set to roam?

* * *
To everyone who reads my poems
My soul fills with benevolence,
It sends them shameless compliments,
Pours wine into their glass,
And just as they should close their eyes,
It flies away at once and roams
The honeycomb silence of the skies,
That the saints may them embrace.

As long as the last light shines through
An eye above one lamp-lit line,
My soul is not yet gone,
And all of me lives over you
Who are out of your mind, alone…
And not a hair of yours shall perish,
Not ever, not even one.

* * *
The long body of soul that I have inside
Is like the pencil’s lead
Whatever you cross out, whatever you write —
It gets shorter. And shorter yet

And so, dear Batyushkov,
Insanity instilled in us such dread,
That we stayed in this world and didn’t go mad.

And so, dear Batyushkov,
Time passes as it pleases,
It won’t be goaded, it will confuse and tease us.

And so, dear Batyushkov,
We’ve lived our life unstrained,
These days a friend’s death is a reminder of a friend.


With the clothespins’ wolfish jaws I bite into a flock of sheets.
Here comes another flock for the cubs to eat,
And they wait to sink their even teeth into the tender
Stuff, and the world is colored like meat from the meat grinder.

But the night descends, and time turns soft and flat.
Above our porch the deep blue melts away in the sky.
I said goodbye to the world of predators and all that,
And my clothes and linens flutter in front of God’s eyes.