I Love (Люблю), Andrey Dementyev

By Михаил Максимов (user:Mikmak) (http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Файл:Dementev.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Михаил Максимов (user:Mikmak) (http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Файл:Dementev.jpg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Andrey Dmitriyevich Dementyev was born in Tver in 1928. He was a prominent poet in the Soviet era, and his work continues to be highly respected. In 1993 he was one of the signatories of the “Letter of Forty-Two”, a response of 42 prominent literary figures to the attempted coup against Boris Yeltsin. Here is part of its preamble:
We have neither the desire nor the need to comment in detail on what happened in Moscow on 3 October. What happened was something that could only take place due to our and your stupidity and lack of concern — fascists took up arms, trying to seize power. Thank God, the army and the law enforcement organs were on the people’s side, did not split, did not allow the bloody adventure to develop into fatal civil war, but what if?… We would have had no one to blame but ourselves. We “compassionately” begged after the August putsch not to “take revenge”, not to “punish”, not to “ban”, not to “close down”, not to “engage in a witch hunt”. We very much wished to be good, magnanimous, tolerant. Good… Towards whom? Murderers? Tolerant… Towards what? Fascism?

A basic difficulty with this translation is that the “one word” in Russian (“люблю“) is two in English (“I love“).

To river came a woman fair.
A beauty with her auburn tresses.
My flame for her one word expresses –
I wrote it on the parched sand there.

She read it out aloud to me.
“I love you too…” she answered dearly.
Her words came clearly:
“Darling, darling…”
my mind lost then its liberty.

I sat with her upon the sand.
The sun upon our backs was blazing.
Beneath, the rustling pines were gazing.
The rooks’ cry came from distant land.

And for her I some lines composed.
Across our Rapids I was swimming
to fetch a bunch of daisies, brimming,
which I then at her feet disposed.

She laughed and then she read my palm.
She tore the petals from the flowers.
So were my vows possessed of powers,
Or was this superstition’s balm?

And many years have passed since then.
Again, I see – though
eyes are shuttered –
that written word, not even muttered,
is made indelible by pen.


Спускалась женщина к реке.
Красива и рыжеголова.
Я для нее одно лишь слово
писал на выжженном песке.

Она его читала вслух.
“И я люблю…”- мне говорила.
И повторяла:
“Милый, милый…”-
так, что захватывало дух.

Мы с ней сидели на песке.
И солнце грело наши спины.
Шумели сосны-исполины.
Грачи кричали вдалеке.

Я в честь ее стихи слагал.
Переплывал Быстрину нашу,
чтобы собрать букет ромашек
и положить к ее ногам.

Она смеялась и гадала.
И лепестки с цветов рвала.
То ль клятв моих ей не хватало,
То ль суеверною была.

С тех пор прошло немало лет.
Глаза закрою –
вижу снова,
как я пишу одно лишь слово,
которому забвенья нет.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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