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From Russia

This leaf, this withered leaf,

Which listlessly downward drifts,

Tomorrow will rise again,

Will settle on a branch’s sprig

This snow, this purest snow,

Which lies on the ground still,

To the heavens tomorrow will soar,

To the stars it will steer

This bow-backed, grey-haired man,

Like a mirrored light in space,

Will come to his derelict home,

Will start living anew his days

We will see how the rivers turn

To their springs in the thicket depth,

And I’ll wake at the break of dawn

On my mother’s lap

– Imant Ziedonis
(Latvian poet b. 1933)

Winter, 1919

The gust of wind, the howl of snow…

Yet, for a moment in my mind,

A land, a distant shore would glow

With faded colours from behind.

And like the dried-up feather-grass

My ancient longings spring from sleep…

At night ‘mid snow I try to pass –

Though, to the precipice I creep.

Night, woods and snow I have to wade,

To carry burden of my lot…

Then, suddenly – a little hut,

A girl singing in the glade.

June, 1905

Love Eternity reigning in mires,

Their powers never deplete.

Grassy land never yields to the fires,

Smallest thicket will stand up the sleet.

Rusty tussocks and stumps get to know

Your reposing captivity age;

They are staying unchanged in the flow –

You are full of perennial change.

Love the destiny’s glowing delight.

Inconceivable sacred Unknown.

It is just the Eternity flight

Which has silenced the lips of our own.

Little Marsh Devils

January, 1905

I have whipped you out of sight

Through the midday soot;

To await the evening light

Of quite solitude.

Now – we’re sitting on a moss

In the heart of fen;

Crescent with a crooked mouth

Is our only friend.

I’m like you – a nature geek,

With a spooky face;

Quiet and shy like forest creek

In a hiding place.

Loosely hangs a parting bell

On my foolish cap.

Rivers weaving through the spell

Of a nature’s lap.

And we’re sitting, little fools –

Greenish caps on heads,

Peeping from the low-land pools

Into wider meads.

Dream deliriums of water,

Rusty run-off wave…

We’re forgotten echoings

Of a someone’s rave…

– Alexander Blok
(1880 – 1921)

Translated by Victor Postnikov

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