First Snow (Первый снег), Boris Pasternak


A poem from 1956. At the height of Khrushchev’s thaw, Pasternak is less than convinced.

Outside, the blizzard sets in deep
And all its polish coats.
The paper seller is asleep,
Her kiosk, drifting, floats.

Not once we’ve happened to observe
In our lives’ lengthy course,
The snowfall comes with shy reserve
To trick our eyes perforce.

Concealing unrepentantly –
Beneath his ice-white mane
How often from the outskirts he
Has brought us home again!

The snowflakes cover everything,
Congealed with snow’s his gaze –
This shadow, with a drunkard’s swing,
To yard gropes in a daze.

With hasty movement, he has come:
For probably, once more,
What sinful seems perhaps to some
He’s swept behind the door.


Снаружи вьюга мечется
И все заносит в лоск.
Засыпана газетчица
И заметен киоск.

На нашей долгой бытности
Казалось нам не раз,
Что снег идет из скрытности
И для отвода глаз.

Утайщик нераскаянный, –
Под белой бахромой
Как часто нас с окраины
Он разводил домой!

Все в белых хлопьях скроется,
Залепит снегом взор, –
На ощупь, как пропоица,
Проходит тень во двор.

Движения поспешные:
Наверное, опять
Кому-то что-то грешное
Приходится скрывать.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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