“My torpor’s higher than the hills” (“Моя усталость выше гор”), Fyodor Sologub

Vasilievsky Island
Vasilievsky Island

Sologub wrote this in 1902, when he was living in St Petersburg with his sister. He hosted a regular literary gathering called the “Sundays”, attended by several prominent poets and writers, among them the humorist Teffi, who wrote of him:

He lived with his sister, a flat-chested, consumptive old maid. She was quiet and shy; she adored her brother and was a little afraid of him, and spoke of him only in a whisper. He said in a poem: “We were holiday children, My sister and I”; they were very poor, those holiday children, dreaming that someone would give them “even motley-coloured shells from a brook”. Sadly and dully they dragged out the difficult days of their youth. The consumptive sister, not having received her share of motley shells, was already burning out. He himself was exhausted by his boring teaching job; he wrote in snatches by night, always tired from the boyish noise of his students…

My torpor’s higher than the hills,
And in the ditch now lies my love,
Its lustre lost, my gaze now spills
Where tears and blood roll from above.

My torpor’s higher than the hills,
The earth my labours do not suit…
Oh, gaze is dark, dull gaze it chills,
Oh evil, terrifying fruit!


Моя усталость выше гор,
Во рву лежит моя любовь,
И потускневший ищет взор,
Где слезы катятся и кровь.

Моя усталость выше гор,
Не для земли ее труды…
О, темный взор, о, скучный взор,
О, злые, страшные плоды!

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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