“I am. You will be.” (“Я — есмь. Ты — будешь.”), Marina Tsvetaeva


Tsvetaeva was in Moscow when she wrote this in June 1918. The city was suffering a famine. The following year, unable to feed her daughters, she placed them in a state orphanage – but one of them, Irina, died there in 1920. I’m not sure if any of this helps explain this cryptic poem.

I am. You will be. ’Twixt us there’s a chasm.
I drink. You thirst. Agreeing is but futile.
A decade, no, a hundred thousand years
Divide us. God above does not build bridges.

So be! Now that is my commandment. Now let
Me by. I wouldn’t want your growing stunted
Because I breathed. I am. You will be. After
Ten springs you’ll say: I am! You were – my answer…


Я — есмь. Ты — будешь. Между нами — бездна.
Я пью. Ты жаждешь. Сговориться — тщетно.
Нас десять лет, нас сто тысячелетий
Разъединяют.— Бог мостов не строит.

Будь!— это заповедь моя. Дай — мимо
Пройти, дыханьем не нарушив роста.
Я — есмь. Ты будешь. Через десять весен
Ты скажешь: — есмь!— а я скажу: — когда-то…

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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