“So here’s my final call to you” (“В последний раз зову Тебя”), Vladislav Khodasevich


A late poem, written in Paris in 1934. Khodasevich refused to align himself with any literary movement, claiming Pushkin as his only model. He was something of a contrarian: he had a major bust-up with Andrei Bely in the 1920s; and he was involved in a protracted debate “on various issues of literary theory” with Georgy Adamovich and Georgy Ivanov. He was a supporter of Vladimir Nabokov – for which, I suppose, we must forgive him. (All the above culled from Wikipedia…)

So here’s my final call to you: report
To festival of nightly inspiration
For final meeting: you and I’ll transport
To heights of plunging fall’s initiation.

The final call! There’s nothing else in life
More sacred and more terrible than parting.
My heart’s a lamb that cowers under knife
On altar’s slab redemption now imparting.

And now the past again its passion tugs,
Regains immortal strength and clings with vigour.
For thus a son condemned his mother hugs –
A grave they’ll share when shooter’s pulled the trigger.


В последний раз зову Тебя: явись
На пиршество ночного вдохновенья,
В последний раз: восхить меня и ту высь,
Откуда открывается паденье.

В последний раз! Нет в жизни ничего
Святее и ужаснее прощанья.
Оно есть агнец сердца моего,
Влекомый на закланье.

В нем прошлое возлюблено опять
С уже нечеловеческою силой.
Так пред расстрелом сын объемлет мать
Над общей их могилой.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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