“O foolish poet, why do you now pour” (“Поэт, зачем ты старое вино”), Mikhail Zenkevich


Mikhail Alexandrovich Zenkevich (1886-1973) was a prominent figure in the Acmeist movement founded by Nikolai Gumilev and Sergei Gorodetsky, of which Osip Mandelstam was a leading figure. Like Gorodetsky – and unlike Gumilev and Mandelstam – he escaped the purges.

O foolish poet, why do you now pour
Into untested wineskins vintage wine?
For everything was said in days of yore,
With rhyme you won’t embellish weary line.

To ancient epochs all your work belongs,
And plagiarism surely is your fall:
Of love it’s all been said by Song of Songs,
Of death the Preacher too has said it all.


Поэт, зачем ты старое вино
Переливаешь в новые меха?
Все это сказано уже давно
И рифмою не обновишь стиха.

Стары все излияния твои,
И славы плагиат тебе не даст:
«Песнь песней» все сказала о любви,
О смерти все сказал Экклезиаст.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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