First Dates (Первые свидания), Arseny Tarkovsky

arseny

Tarkovsky wrote this in 1962. It features in his son Andrei’s film “The Mirror” (“Зеркало“), read by the poet himself.

An extraordinary poem by one of the outstanding Russian poets of the twentieth century. It is all but impossible to capture its relentless metre in English.

We through the moments of our early dating
Our own epiphany were celebrating
Of our uniqueness in the scheme of things.
More brave, more light you were than sparrow’s wings,
You stood beside the stairs in dizzy waiting,
And by degrees you led me where path brings
Us through wet lilac-bed of your curating
Through mirrored glass, to place of other things.

And in the night on me then thoughts so tender
Descended and the sanctuary’s gated gilt
Then opened to me, and your form so slender
Was lit by glimmer’s fall on naked tilt,
And I, awake now, joyful, “Bless you” uttered,
And felt myself so brave by blessing muttered,
And watched as gently from you sleep’s breath spilt,
And, turquoise universe towards you stretching
From table to your eyelids lilac built
A bridge, and on them blueish light was etching
Its calm – your hand was warm upon the quilt.

And rivers quivered crystal’s scintillation,
The mountains smouldered, glimmered briny’s shine,
And on your palm moved crystal’s oscillation,
Asleep, you occupied your regal station,
And – god almighty! – you, I knew, were mine.

You then awoke, and what a transformation!
The daily language used for everything,
Our human speech, was swept by inundation.
And “you” acquired a quite new connotation,
For when you spoke it signified a king.

And everything was changed, the elementary,
The humblest, things – yes, even bowl and jug –
Took station with us, guarding like a sentry,
The hardened water now new trenches dug.

And we were led I really don’t know where,
A moment’s mirage, then evaporation,
Whole cityscapes – miraculous affair –
And underfoot was minty sward’s foundation,
And birds along the way flew in formation,
Against the flow the fish were swimming free,
Before our eyes the heavens were unfolding…

Behind us still our fate was grimly holding,
A razor-handed madman, seeking fee.

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

Свиданий наших каждое мгновенье
Мы праздновали, как богоявленье,
Одни на целом свете. Ты была
Смелей и легче птичьего крыла,
По лестнице, как головокруженье,
Через ступень сбегала и вела
Сквозь влажную сирень в свои владенья
С той стороны зеркального стекла.

Когда настала ночь, была мне милость
Дарована, алтарные врата
Отворены, и в темноте светилась
И медленно клонилась нагота,
И, просыпаясь: “Будь благословенна!” –
Я говорил и знал, что дерзновенно
Мое благословенье: ты спала,
И тронуть веки синевой вселенной
К тебе сирень тянулась со стола,
И синевою тронутые веки
Спокойны были, и рука тепла.

А в хрустале пульсировали реки,
Дымились горы, брезжили моря,
И ты держала сферу на ладони
Хрустальную, и ты спала на троне,
И – боже правый! – ты была моя.

Ты пробудилась и преобразила
Вседневный человеческий словарь,
И речь по горло полнозвучной силой
Наполнилась, и слово ты раскрыло
Свой новый смысл и означало царь.

На свете все преобразилось, даже
Простые вещи – таз, кувшин,- когда
Стояла между нами, как на страже,
Слоистая и твердая вода.

Нас повело неведомо куда.
Пред нами расступались, как миражи,
Построенные чудом города,
Сама ложилась мята нам под ноги,
И птицам с нами было по дороге,
И рыбы подымались по реке,
И небо развернулось пред глазами…

Когда судьба по следу шла за нами,
Как сумасшедший с бритвою в руке.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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