Wednesday, October 30, 2013

30 October 2013

Aleksandr Blok [united architects]

Alexander Alexandrovich Blok from Olga Carlisle's Poets on Street Corners: portraits of fifteen Russian poets, translated/adapted by Adrienne Rich:

The Artist

Torpid summers, snow-choked winters,
at all your weddings, birthdays, funerals,
always I listen for a dim, unheard chime
to drive away my deadly boredom.

There . . . ! Now, with cold concentration, I wait
to understand, to pin it down, to kill it.
And as I wait intently, a thread begins
to spin itself, half perceptibly, before me.

Is that a whirlwind blown from the sea? Or legendary birds
in chorus among the leaves? Does Time exist?
Was that an explosion of white petals, or light
springing in plumes from a divine shoulder?

Hours pass, bearing the weight of the whole world.
Sound, motion, light, are bursting. The past
gazes deep into the eyes of the future. There is no present.
There’s nothing left requiring pity.

And at last, as something new is thrusting toward birth,
some new soul, a mysterious energy,
creative reason strikes like a lightning bolt
and masters it, and kills it.

And I lock into a cold cage
the airy, wild, merciful feathers,
the bird that was flying to capture death,
the bird of salvation.

You see my cage, its thick steel bands
glittering coldly in the evening fires.
And here’s my bird, my tamed gypsy,
pleased with its hoop, swinging and singing.

The wings are clipped, the song’s by rote.
You like to listen, standing under the window.
But I, worn out with pain, am only waiting;
boredom sits on me like an aching scar.

Adrienne Rich [bio]

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