“I should have known that this would happen” (“О, знал бы я, что так бывает”), Boris Pasternak

Boris beside the Baltic at Merekule, 1910, by Leonid Pasternak
Boris beside the Baltic at Merekule, 1910, by Leonid Pasternak

 

I should have known that this would happen,
When I embarked upon this act,
That bloody lines they will entangle,
They’ll strangle as they wash throat’s tract.

From playing with this sort of motive
I should have boldly then abstained.
The start was all so very distant,
My early itch was thus restrained.

But old age is the Rome exchanging
For empty talk and chariot wheel
No mere recital from the actor,
But earnest loss he must reveal.

But when the line dictates the feeling
A slave is sent onto the stage,
And then the artist meets comeuppance,
And earth and fate now leave the cage.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

О, знал бы я, что так бывает,
Когда пускался на дебют,
Что строчки с кровью – убивают,
Нахлынут горлом и убьют!

От шуток с этой подоплекой
Я б отказался наотрез.
Начало было так далеко,
Так робок первый интерес.

Но старость – это Рим, который
Взамен турусов и колес
Не читки требует с актера,
А полной гибели всерьез.

Когда строку диктует чувство,
Оно на сцену шлет раба,
И тут кончается искусство,
И дышат почва и судьба.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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