“The day is clear and cold. The sun has risen early” (“Морозен ясный день, а солнце встало рано”), Fyodor Sologub

 

Sologub (seated left) with (from left) Konstantin Erberg, Alexander Blok and Georgy Chulkov, 1908

Sologub wrote this sonnet in 1893.

The day is clear and cold. The sun has risen early.
Resign yourself, now, winter – soon the spring is here.
And through the misty veil of February, thin and surly,
From under shielding hands now at the sun I peer.

Now crimson and triumphantly it has ascended –
Unbidden, dazzled pupils have begun to squint.
And on the solar disc, like hookah’s smoke suspended,
The agile leaden circles float by shiver’s dint,

And in a downwards rush leap golden daggered vectors.
My eyes I now have lowered and, like coloured spectres,
The lilac flowers have begun a leaping jerk.

O crimson sun, your warming draft’s pulsation
Disperses stubbornness of gloom’s malingering station
And its enduring work.

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Морозен ясный день, а солнце встало рано.
Зима, смирись, – близки весенние деньки.
Сквозь тонкую вуаль февральского тумана
На солнце яркое смотрю из-под руки.

Возносится оно победно и багряно, –
Невольно сузились пытливые зрачки.
На диске солнечном, как быстрый дым кальяна,
Дрожат свинцовые проворные кружки,

А книзу мечутся кинжалы золотые.
Я опустил глаза, – как призраки цветные,
Запрыгали везде лиловые цветки.

Вы, солнца красного горячие отброски,
Мрак разгоняете, а всё его отростки
Живучи и цепки.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

“You wanted life” (“Ты жизни захотел”), Fyodor Sologub

A late poem, written in December 1926, a year before Sologub died.

You wanted life: mad aberration!
And when you’d non-existence spurned,
You rushed towards plain’s agitation.
Well! Now the whole of life you’ve earned.

So do not marvel at the changes
From joy to grief: for everything –
The day, the night, the years’ exchanges –
A variegated glut will bring.

You wanted it, and what you wanted
You gratis got – so now possess
It with a fiery zeal undaunted,
With fury seize its flames’ caress.

You’ve burned yourself. The bliss must stutter,
The sweetest juice will have its day –
So, insubstantial moth, now flutter
With dainty wings, and fly away.

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Ты жизни захотел, безумный!
Отвергнув сон небытия,
Ты ринулся к юдоли шумной.
Ну что ж! теперь вся жизнь – твоя.

Так не дивися переходам
От счастья к горю: вся она,
И день и ночь, и год за годом,
Разнообразна и полна.

Ты захотел ее, и даром
Ты получил ее,- владей
Ее стремительным пожаром
И яростью ее огней.

Обжегся ты. Не все здесь мило,
Не вечно пить сладчайший сок,-
Так улетай же, легкокрылый
И легковесный мотылек.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

 

 

“They have murdered my Russia, these men,” (“Умертвили Россию мою”), Fyodor Sologub

Sologub had welcomed the February Revolution; but he was opposed to the Bolsheviks. With the October Revolution, he found himself isolated, and his works were no longer published. In 1921 he received permission from Trotsky to leave Russia, but his wife killed herself, and he chose to remain in Petrograd.

They have murdered my Russia, these men,
She is wrapped in a word-stifling shroud!
I will harbour deep sorrowing, then –
Mute remain ’midst the villainous crowd.

Sleep, my Russia entombed, oh now sleep,
Till luminous spring that we crave!
When the strobe of your lightning will leap,
Gush the springs of rebirth from your grave.

And it’s then that my Russia they’ll wake,
From funereal nights they will call!
And I’ll deeply conceal my heart’s ache,
Over grief I will spread out a pall.

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Умертвили Россию мою,
Схоронили в могиле немой!
Я глубоко печаль затаю,
Замолчу перед злою толпой.

Спи в могиле, Россия моя,
До желанной и светлой весны!
Вашей молнии брызнет струя,
И прольются весенние сны.

И разбудят Россию мою,
Воззовут от могильных ночей!
Я глубоко тоску затаю,
Я не выдам печали моей.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

“And briefly a joy was ignited” (“Короткая радость сгорела”), Fyodor Sologub

A poem from 1896.

And briefly a joy was ignited,
I now was dejected and broke,
And now I was wandering benighted
Abodes in the dark and the smoke.

And ardent for night’s inspiration
Laid low with my malady’s blight,
I met with another narration
Of lovely and radiant delight.

Extinguished, the joy now has ended
My destiny city now meets,
Again now my journey has wended
Along its depressing hard streets.

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Короткая радость сгорела,
И снова я грустен и нищ,
И снова блуждаю без дела
У чуждых и темных жилищ.

Я пыл вдохновенья ночного
Больною душой ощущал,
Виденья из мира иного
Я светлым восторгом встречал.

Но краткая радость сгорела,
И город опять предо мной,
Опять я скитаюсь без дела
По жесткой его мостовой.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

“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!

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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

“And, oh! how blue is heaven’s glimmer” (“И это небо голубое”) Fyodor Sologub

fyodor-sologub_1-t

The poet and humourist Teffi write of Sologub:

His face was pale, long, without eyebrows; by his nose was a large wart; a thin reddish beard seemed to pull away from his thin cheeks; dull, half-closed eyes. His face was always tired, always bored… Sometimes when he was a guest at someone’s table he would close his eyes and remain like that for several minutes, as if he had forgotten to open them. He never laughed… Sologub lived on Vasilievsky Island in the small official apartment of a municipal school where he was a teacher and inspector. 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-colored 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…

So Sologub lived in his little official apartment with little icon lamps, serving his guests mint cakes, ruddy rolls, pastila, and honey cakes, for which his sister went across the river somewhere on a horsecar. She told us privately, “I’d love to ride on the outside of the horsecar sometime, but my brother won’t let me. He says it’s unseemly for a lady.”… Those evenings in the little apartment, when his close literary friends gathered, were very interesting.

Sologub fascinates me. So much about him seems to epitomise bourgeois respectability, yet his poetry has a loftiness that escapes the restraint of a propriety he appears to have visited on others.

And, oh! how blue is heaven’s glimmer,
And, oh! how lofty is the hush!
It seems, O child of night-pitch shimmer,
You plunge to earth in headlong rush,

As joyous eyes you’re now inclining
Upon this valley of despair,
Where now must start your doleful whining,
As painful fall o’ercomes you here.

Yet you must harbour aspirations
and quake at what you find amiss.
The waterfall’s concatenations
Delay your leap across abyss,

The sun can never lose its vision,
It will not waste its burning rays
So those who’re born of heat’s collision
Are more consumed by solar blaze.

So gust, and aspiration, passion
Are forces governed by the sun.
Discharge upon the earth your ration,
The heaven-purloined hoard you’ve won.

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И это небо голубое,
И эта выспренная тишь!
И кажется,- дитя ночное,
К земле стремительно летишь,

И радостные взоры клонишь
На безнадежную юдоль,
Где так мучительно застонешь,
Паденья ощутивши боль.

А все-таки стремиться надо,
И в нетерпении дрожать.
Не могут струи водопада
Свой бег над бездной задержать,

Не может солнце стать незрячим,
Не расточать своих лучей,
Чтобы, рожденное горячим,
Все становиться горячей.

Порыв, стремленье, лихорадка,-
Закон рожденных солнцем сил.
Пролей же в землю без остатка
Все, что от неба получил.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

“My heart, my heart, it is now time” (“О сердце, сердце! позабыть”), Fyodor Sologub

Portrait of Fyodor Sologub by Konstantin Somov, 1910
Portrait of Fyodor Sologub by Konstantin Somov, 1910

This was written in 1898. Sologub’s fin de siècle pessimism is certainly to the fore here…

My heart, my heart! It is now time,
Your haughty dreams you must give up,
The hill of hopeless fate now climb,
Abandon joy and beauty’s cup,

To answer, silent and correct
The clamour and the raucous call,
To learn you nothing can expect
From friends and enemies – them all.

It’s strict, the call, but God desires
Of each of us a life like this,
That’s lived amidst the lazy fires,
Amidst our languid sin’s abyss.

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О сердце, сердце! позабыть
Пора надменные мечты
И в безнадежной доле жить
Без торжества, без красоты,

Молчаньем верным отвечать
На каждый звук, на каждый зов,
И ничего не ожидать
Ни от друзей, ни от врагов.

Суров завет, но хочет бог,
Чтобы такою жизнь была
Среди медлительных тревог,
Среди томительного зла.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

“I love my silent hours” (“Люблю мое молчанье”), Fyodor Sologub

Feodor_Sologub

Fyodor Sologub (born Fyodor Kuzmich Teternikov, 1863-1927) was one of the leading Russian symbolists.

I love my silent hours
In forest’s depths at night
And pensive branches’ bower’s
Vibrating’s soft delight.
I love how in damp meadows
Bedazzles nightly dew
And how the morning shadows
Play on the moist field too.
I love how scarlet morning
Comes with its chilly cheer
And fisher’s fire adorning
Pale evening azure here.
It’s then a calm sensation
Upon me will descend,
And torpor’s too appealing
As day comes to its end!
Before the earth’s expanses
I will stand still in bliss
My star-filled gaze’s dances
Give all my world a kiss.
I’ll wrap myself in mist and
To dreams I then will yield,
With fabulous deception
Lie sprawling in the field.

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Люблю мое молчанье
В лесу во тьме ночей
И тихое качанье
Задумчивых ветвей.
Люблю росу ночную
В сырых моих лугах
И влагу полевую
При утренних лучах.
Люблю зарею алой
Веселый холодок
И бледный, запоздалый
Рыбачий огонек.
Тогда успокоенье
Нисходит на меня,
И что мне всё томленье
Пережитого дня!
Я всем земным простором
Блаженно замолчу
И многозвездным взором
Весь мир мой охвачу.
Закроюсь я туманом
И волю дам мечтам,
И сказочным обманом
Раскинусь по полям.

Translation by Rupert Moreton