“I walk, and think of sundry matters” (Иду – и думаю о разном), Georgy Ivanov

Ivanov in 1921

Ivanov spent most of his adulthood in exile in Germany and France. This poem was (I think) first published in Russia in 1995, nearly forty years after his death, in an anthology compiled by Yevtushenko.

I walk, and think of sundry matters,
And for my coffin plait a ring,
For in an ugly world that batters
To be alone’s a noble thing.

But then I hear: the war, the notion,
The final battle of our age.
And I recall, with cold emotion,
That I’ve already left the stage.

But idiotic creature’s spasm
Is quite in vain by nature made –
“Hurrah!” resounds from patriot’s chasm,
And “Down with them!” has rebel brayed.


Иду – и думаю о разном,
Плету на гроб себе венок,
И в этом мире безобразном
Благообразно одинок.

Но слышу вдруг: война, идея,
Последний бой, двадцатый век.
И вспоминаю, холодея,
Что я уже не человек,

А судорога идиота,
Природой созданная зря –
“Урра!” из пасти патриота,
“Долой!” из глотки бунтаря.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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