“Moon above the river drifted” (“Над водой луна уснула”), Irina Odoyevtseva

Irina Odoyevtseva (Iraida Heinike, 1895-1990) was born in Riga. Her father was a Baltic German. She was married to the poet Georgy Ivanov. Wikipedia gives a fascinating account of her long and extraordinary life.

She wrote this poem in 1950, halfway through her long exile.

Moon above the river drifted,
Fireflies glimmered on the bank,
Here a wreath to head I lifted,
Drowning, ’neath the waters sank.

Kiev whitens, Dnieper skirts,
By the Dnieper mermaid’s singing.
From her scales a glitter flirts…
Sorrow from me maybe wringing –

Eyes has she that are as shiny
As these azure eyes of mine.


Над водой луна уснула,
Светляки горят в траве,
Здесь когда-то утонула
Я, с венком на голове.

…За Днепром белеет Киев,
У Днепра поет русалка.
Блеск идет от чешуи…
Может быть, меня ей жалко –

У нея глаза такие
Голубые, как мои.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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