In Tsarskoe Selo (ep.1)

Down the alley, the horses are led,

Their long wavy manes - all combed out,

A place full of riddles, how I lament,

Having fallen in love with this town.

It’s strange to recall: the soul pined for joy,

Only gasping for breath to pull through,

And now I’ve become a plaything, a toy,

Like my rose-colored friend cockatoo.

No hint of pain can now make me cower,

Look in my eyes, and you’ll see,

I dislike only the pre-sunset hour,

The word “leave” and wind from the sea.
Anna Akhmatova
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First, as a serpent, it’ll cast its spell

Next to your heart, curled up.

Then, it’ll come as a dove, as well,

Cooing for days, nonstop.

In the frost, it’ll show itself curtly,

Or in the drowsing field of carnations…

To escort you covertly and firmly

Away from all rest and elation.

In the prayer of a violin yearning,

So sweetly, it’ll sob for a while,

And how frightening it is to discern it

In a yet unfamiliar smile.
Anna Akhmatova
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To the Londoners

The twenty-fourth drama of Shakespeare
Time's writing with its indifferent hand.
We, selves, the guests of the awful Feast here,
Better would read Hamlet, Caesar, and Lear
Over the river, in heavy lead clad;
Better - to bear, with singing and torches,
Juliet, the dove, to her family's graves,
Peep into windows of Macbeth's castle godless,
Tremble with scum - hired killers and knaves -
But not this one, Lord… oh, not this...oh, not this, -
To read this one we already haven't strengths!
Anna Akhmatova
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The Mrk Of Cain

The poor pilgrims dragged themselves wearily
along to Mecca through gray Syria,
huddled and doubled up
the pilgrims stumbled along-
away from delusion and ferment
to repent, repent, repent...
And I was standing like an impenitent sinner
on the summit of the mountain
where once upon a time (don't stir!)
Abel was killed by Cain.
And-of all communiqués of blood
the most unforgettable-
the elemental voice was heard:
'Cain, where is your brother, Abel? '
But once again the Pharisees,
with their vile-sweet voices:
'Why do you worry about visions that are fake?
Yes, with Abel maybe we should have held back.
Admittedly, there was a little mistake,
but generally speaking we were on the right track...'
And I was standing on the summit
between those ahead and the hosts behind,
above a world where people could commit
every corruption of their own kind.
There was no lightning and no thunder,
but the stones were crying with mouths opened wide:
'The corruption of the soul may be bloodless
but it is also fratricide! '
And I imagined a gloomy, dead
brick orphanage,
where as with henbane
the children of Abel are spoonfed
with lies by the children of Cain.
And in the faces of Abel's children,
doing what they know that they must do,
which is always to stay silent,
the red mark of Cain shows through...

And I, no one's murderer,
was standing on the sticky summit,
but my conscience murmured
like the Bible: 'You won't be able to quit!
You're corrupting your spirit with lies,
and your spirit is crumbling, cracking inside.
And to kill yourself- you cannot disguise
that that is also fratricide!
And how many women, you twister,
lie like crucifixions along your way-
but women, they are your sisters,
worth more than brothers can repay.
And the Hussars' toasts 'To the ladies, '
what are they worth?
Bravado, empty form.
To kill love- you cannot evade it,
that is also fratricide.
And someone's gray brown eyes
staring at you with disdain,
on your forehead cicatrize
you with the eternal mark of Cain...'
I shuddered:
'Quiet, O conscience...
You know this is not comparable,
it is like comparing a children's circus
with a bloody Roman shambles.'

But the shadow of bony Cain
jutted out from the rocks near at hand,
and the blood of the brother he had slain
was endlessly dripping from my hand.

'Look- my bloody hands shake.
As a child it was fun to improvise,
out of curiosity to break
the velvet wings of butterflies
and then- fratricide.'

My conscience- the protectress
of the mark of Cain,
the prophetess-seer said again
with prophetically bitter sadness:
'What will you say to the eternal skies
and the court of stars when you cannot run back-
To say I am sinless would be telling lies,
but generally speaking I'm on the right track!
You know, all those whom you hate
set this up as the true state,
while the cigarettes take on
the smell of burning flesh, the Winstons, and the Kents,
and the bullet that passed through John
kills Robert Kennedy.
And the bombs charge the earth, turn
brown villages bloodred, fire black.
Admittedly they fall on children,
but generally speaking they're on the right track...
Everything begins with the butterflies,
later it comes round to bombs...
No amount of washing purifies-
the blood on your hands will be your doom.
The only murder that is fit-
is to kill the Cain inside! '

And losing my footing on the sticky summit,
face to face with the infinite,
I tore the flesh open in my side
and the strangled embryo Cain died.
I strangled everything mean and evil,
all that you would later despise,
but it was far too late to heal
the broken wings of the butterflies.
And the wind, blood-soaked, invisible,
lashed at me from the fury of space
as if the pages of the Bible
were lashing me on the face...
Yevgeny Yevtushenko
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The old man

I am no more that passioned lover,
Once the world's most marvelous face:
My spring and wondrous golden summer
Forever gone without a trace.
Oh Cupid, god of days of yore!
I was your faithful servant then;
If only to be born once more,
Oh how I'd serve you yet again!
Alexander Pushkin
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As freedom's sower in the wasteland

As freedom's sower in the wasteland
Before the morning star I went;
From hand immaculate and chastened
Into the grooves of prisonment
Flinging the vital seed I wandered--
But it was time and toiling squandered,
Benevolent designs misspent...
Graze on, graze on, submissive nation!
You will not wake to honor's call.
Why offer herds their liberation?
For them are shears or slaughter-stall,
Their heritage each generation
The yoke with jingles, and the gall.
Alexander Pushkin
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A little bird

In alien lands devoutly clinging
To age-old rites of Russian earth,
I let a captive bird go winging
To greet the radiant spring's rebirth.
My heart grew lighter then: why mutter
Against God's providence, and rage,
When I was free to set aflutter
But one poor captive from his cage!
Alexander Pushkin
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The Prophet (Ver. 2)

Parched with the spirit's thirst, I crossed
An endless desert sunk in gloom,
And a six-winged seraph came
Where the tracks met and I stood lost.
Fingers light as dream he laid
Upon my lids; I opened wide
My eagle eyes, and gazed around.
He laid his fingers on my ears
And they were filled with roaring sound:
I heard the music of the spheres,
The flight of angels through the skies,
The beasts that crept beneath the sea,
The heady uprush of the vine;
And, like a lover kissing me,
He rooted out this tongue of mine
Fluent in lies and vanity;
He tore my fainting lips apart
And, with his right hand steeped in blood,
He armed me with a serpent's dart;
With his bright sword he split my breast;
My heart leapt to him with a bound;
A glowing livid coal he pressed
Into the hollow of the wound.
There in the desert I lay dead,
And God called out to me and said:
'Rise, prophet, rise, and hear, and see,
And let my works be seen and heard
By all who turn aside from me,
And burn them with my fiery word.
Alexander Pushkin
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The Prophet

My lonely heart athirst, I trod
A barren waste when, so 'twas fated,
A winged seraph 'fore me stood:
Where crossed the desert roads he waited.
Upon my orbs of sightless clay
His fingers lightly he did lay.
And like a startled eagle round me
I gazed and saw the earth surrounded,
Hemmed in by sky... He touched my ear,
Then t'other, and, most marked and clear,
There came to me the gentle flutter
Of angels' wings, I heard the vine
Push through the earth and skyward climb,
The deep-sea monsters in the water
Like tiny fishes glide... And o'er
Me calm he bent and out he tore
My sinful tongue... Not once withdrawing
His gaze from mine, he pushed, unseen,
A serpent's deadly sting between
My ice-cold lips... Then, swiftly drawing
His shining sword, he clove my breast,
Plucked out my quivering heart, and, sombre
And grim of aspect, coolly thrust
Into the gaping hole an ember
That ran with flame... I lay there, dead,
And God, God spake, and this He said:
"Arise, O sage! My summons hearing,
Do as I bid, by naught deterred;
Stride o'er the earth, a prophet, searing
The hearts of men with righteous word."
Alexander Pushkin
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Dreams, dreams,
Where is your sweetness?
Where, O where
The joy of night?
It disappeared
My happy dream,
And now alone
In deep darkness
I am awakened.
A silent night
Surrounds my bed.
Suddenly cold,
Instantly gone,
Lost in a crowd,
My dreams of love.
The soul, yet full
Of dreams' desires,
Yearns to seize
The memories.
Love, love,
O' hear my cry:
Send once more to me
Your visions.
And in the morning,
Entranced anew,
Let me die
Alexander Pushkin
Read in English and Russian