after Marina Tsvetaeva

for H.

Where did our tenderness come from?
As if yours were the first curls
I’d felt close, ran fingers through.
You’ve kissed lips darker than mine.

The night came cold and starless,
snowstorms swept in from the east.
Though others’ eyes have met mine
with that same, uncertain peace.

But I've never known songs like these,

songs that still go on … the dark
pulled close, my head on your chest,
and the world clear-cut for once.

Where did our tenderness come from?
What to make of it? Love,
I imagine you passing me by –
your azure eyes, sharper than anyone’s.

poem by Ben Wilkinson


Edward Ferrari said...

Grand how quiet but lingeringly intense this is. Could you recommend a few Tsvetaevas to start with?

Ben Wilkinson said...

Glad to hear you enjoyed it, Ed. All credit to Tsvetaeva though; her pitch-perfect tone is about the only thing my version halfway salvages from the original! Afraid I don't know many other poems by her - her oeuvre is very uneven, and not much has been adequately translated into English - but there are a few bare-bones translations here to give a flavour.


Edward Ferrari said...

Thanks, more than enough to be getting on with!