Yesenin Sergey: .

Sergey Yesenin. Collection of Poems in English . Translated from the Russian by Alec Vagapov

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    Alexander Blok. 1880-1921. Russian Poetry Classic. Collected Poems in English. Translated from the Russian by Alec Vagapov

Click  to see  Sergey Yesenins  autobiography

SERGEY YESENIN

Collection of Poems

Translated by Alec  Vagapov


Contents


                       ***

 

Scarlet light of sunset shows up on the lake.

Grouses are crying in the wood, awake.

 

Hidden in a hollow, cries an oriole.

I dont feel like crying, brightness in my soul.

 

Youll come out to meet me later in the day,

Well sit down there under stack of hay.

 

I will kiss and squeeze you, like a loving boy!

One cant blame a man for being drunk with joy.

 

You will chuck your kerchief as I hold you tight,

I will keep you, tipsy, in the bush all night.

 

Let the birds keep crying as we neck and bask

Theres a happy yearning in the purple dusk.

 

1910

 

The Night

 

The tired day droops, slowly waning ,

The noisy waves are now tranquil.

The sun has set, the moon is sailing

Above the world, absorbed and still.

 

The valley listens to the babbles

Of peaceful river in the dale.

The forest, dark and bending, slumbers

To warbling of the nightingale.

 

The river, listening in and fondling,

Talks with the banks in quiet hush.

And up above resounds, a-rolling,

The merry rustle of the rush.

 

1910 -1912

 

WHAT IS GONE CANNOT BE RETRIEVED

 

Lovely night  I will never retrieve it,

And I wont see my sweet precious love.

And the nightingales song, I wont hear it,

Happy song that it sang in the grove!

 

That sweet night is now gone irrevocably

You cant tell it: please come back and wait.

Autumn weather has now set in locally,

With perpetual rains, damp and wet.

 

Fast asleep in the grave is my sweetheart

Keeping love, as before, in her heart.

And however it tries, autumn blizzard

Cannot wake her from sleep, flesh and blood.

 

So the nightingales singing has ended,

As the song-bird has taken to flight,

And I cant hear the song now, so splendid,

Which it sang on that sweet chilly night.

 

Gone and lost are the joyous emotions

That I felt in those days and conceived.

All I have now is chill in my conscience.

What is gone cant be ever retrieved.

 

1911-1912

 

 

The Stars

 

Stars little stars, youre so high and so clear!

What have you got in you, so fascinating?

Stars, deep in thought, so discreet you appear,

What is the power that makes you so tempting?

 

Stars, little stars, youre so dense and so solid!

What is it that makes you so great and alluring?

How can you, heavenly bodies, afford it:

Stirring a thirst and desire for learning?

 

Why, as you shine, are you nice and inviting

Into your wide open arms, on the instant?

Pleasing the heart, so benign and enticing,

Heavenly stars, so remote and so distant!

 

1911-1912

My Life

 

It appears,  my life is fated to torment;

My way is dammed up by grief and distress.

My life has been severed from fun and enjoyment,

Vexation and wounds are afflicting my chest.

 

It seems Im fated to suffer from pain.

All I have in this life are bad luck and misfortune.

I have suffered  enough in this life,  and again

Both my body and soul have been put to the torture.

 

The expanse, vast and hazy,  promises joy,

Sighs and tears, however, are the real solutions.

A storm will break out, the thunder - oh boy! -

Will ruin the magical luscious illusions.

 

Now I  know  lifes deception,  and nevertheless

I dont want to complain of bad luck and misfortune.

So my soul doesnt suffer from grief and distress,

No one ever can help to relieve me from torture.

 

1911-1912

***

You were crying on a quiet night,

Those tears in your eyes you werent hiding,

I was so sad, it was a real plight,

And yet we couldnt overcome misunderstanding.

 

Now you are gone, Im here, on my own,

My dreams have faded, losing tint and colour,

You left me, and again I am all alone,

Without tender word and greeting, in my parlour.

 

When evening comes I often, crowned with rue,

Come to the place of our dating here,

And in my dreams I see the sight of you

And hear you crying bitterly, my dear.

 

1912-1913

 

              * * *

 

Canes have started rustling on the river bank,

Princess-girl is crying with her face pale, blank.

 

Pretty girl has chanted loves me - loves me not,

The unwoven flowers down the river float.

 

She is not to marry later in the spring,

Goblin has foretold a very frightening thing.

 

Mice have stripped the birch-tree of the bark, so hard,

They have frightened girlie out of the yard.

 

Horses fight, so threateningly jerking their heads,

Ah, dark hair is what goblin really hates.

 

Incense smell is coming from the nearby groves,

Loud winds are singing their dirge-like songs.

 

On the river bank she sadly walks around,

As the foamy wave is spinning her a shroud.

 

1914

 

* * *

 

Trinity devotions. Morning cannon rite,

Birch-trees in the grove are filled with ringing light.

 

Villagers are coming after festive sleep,

In the chimes of wind the heady spring will steep.

 

There are bands and branches on the window panes.

I will cry with flowers over grieves and pains.

 

Sing, you birds, lamenting, I will sing along,

Well consign to dust my boyhood to this song.

 

Trinity aurora. Morning cannon rite,

Birch-trees in the grove are filled with ringing light.

 

1914

***

 

Im a shepherd, and my parlours

Are the ruffled pasture sides,

Slopes of verdant hills and furrows,

Balks, with booming cry of snipes.

 

Yellow foamy clouds are trimming

Pine-tree wood with lace designs,

While I listen, lightly dreaming,

To the whisper of the pines.

 

Dewy poplars, softly waving,

Shine with verdure on the scene.

I am a shepherd, and my dwelling

Is the gentle field of green.

 

Cows salute and hail me chatting

Using their tongue of nods.

Fragrant flowers are inviting

Kindly to the river spots.

 

I forget all grief and care,

On a heap of twigs I dream.

To the sun I say my prayer,

Make communion by the stream.

 

1914

 

* * *

 

 

White is the sweatshirt, and red is the sash,

Im picking the poppies beginning to flush.

Deep is the sound of the choral song ,

I know she is there now, singing along.

She cried, I remember, on entring the hut:

Youre handsome, but you are not after my heart.

The wind is enflaming the rings of your curls,

Ive given my brush to somebody else.

I know she dislikes me and makes me feel small:

I danced less than others and drank least of all.

I stood by the wall and was humble and sad,

While they were drunk and singing, like mad.

Hes lucky, hes one of those brazen men, -

His beard would stick to her neck now and then.

And joining the circle of dancers, with grace,

She burst out laughing straight in my face.

White is the sweatshirt, and red is the sash,

Im picking the poppies beginning to flush.

Her heart, like a poppy, is blooming along.

It isnt for me that shes singing the song.

1915

* * *

Im tired of living in my land

With boring fields and buckwheat fragrant,

Ill leave my home for ever, and

Begin the life of thief and vagrant.

Ill walk through silver curls of life

In search of miserable dwelling.

My dearest friend will whet his knife

On me. The reason? Theres no telling.

The winding yellow road will go

Across the sunlit field of flowers,

The girl whose name I cherish so

Will turn me out of her house.

I will return back home to live

and see the others feeling happy,

Ill hang myself upon my sleeve,

On a green evening it will happen.

The silky willows by the fence

Will bend their tops low down, gently,

To dogs barking, by my friends,

Unwashed, I will be buried plainly.

The moon will float up in the sky

Dropping the oars into the water

As ever, Russia will get by

And dance and weep in every quarter.

1915

The Witch

 

White and dishevelled, she looks outrageous,

Running about, brisk and courageous.

 

Dark is the night, it is scared to death, and

Clouds, like kerchiefs, have covered the crescent.

 

Wind, letting out hysterical hoots,

Whirls like a shot to the back of the woods.

 

Fir-trees are threatening to hit with a spear

Owls lie hidden, a-wailing from fear.

 

Waving her harridans clutches she shouts.

Up in the sky stars are winking from clouds.

 

Vipers, like rings, hanging down her hair,

Spinning with blizzard, she whirls in the air.

 

Ringing, the pines make the witch dance and cry.

Clouds grow dark as they, trembling, float by.

 

1915

 

 

 

 

***

Im back at home. My dear land

Is pensive, spreading all around !

The twilight waves its snow-white hand

To greet me from beyond the mound.

 

The grizzle  of the gloomy day

Is floating by over my home, and

The evening  fills me with dismay

Like insurmountable torment.

 

Above the church, over the dome,

The sunset shade  has fallen down.

My dear friends, Im back at home,

And wont be seeing you around.

 

The years have  flown like a whirl,

And where are you, my friends, I wonder?

All I can hear is the purl

Of water by the mill-house yonder.

 

And often, sitting by the hearth,

to sound of sedge crack, or whatever,

I pray to steaming mother earth

Fore those whore are gone lost for ever.

 

1916

 

 

                  ***

Over there beyond fields of yellow

There are villages stretching ahead.

Theres a wood and the sunset of mellow

And a fence with a nettle thread.

 

There over the domes of the temple

Is the turquoise dust of the sky,

And the wind rings the grass, wet and gentle,

As it comes from the lakes nearby.

 

It is not for the song of the valley

That I love this greenery spill,

Like a crane Im in love with the alley

And the convent on top of the hill.

 

When the azure gets misty and blooming,

And the sunset hangs over the bridge.

I can see you, my wandering woman,

Go to bow to the cross and beseech.

 

Chaste is life in the convent village,

Public prayer absorbs you all,

Pray before our Saviours image,

Preach to God for my fallen soul.

 

1916

 

 

***

Like smoke in the room you are out of view.

With a humble heart I will pray for you.

 

Your oatmeal image feeds my soul,

You are  my helper, my friend and all.

 

The world is sown with the solar flame

The holy truth has got no name.

 

The sand of the dream is keeping time,

Youve  added new grains to the sublime.

 

Words are  growing on the arable plot,

The green feather-grass is mixed with thought.

 

On solid muscles of raised up hands

The sound erects white churches in lands.

 

The souls are delighted in trampling your glow

And seeing your steps on the recent snow.

 

But self-abasement and faded zeal

Of those dropped off are lovelier still.

 

1916

***

Well depart this world for ever, surely,

To repose in peace and quite. Oh, my Lord!

Maybe, I shall also have to duly

Pack my things preparing for the road.

 

Oh, my birch-tree woods! Amazing pictures!

Oh, my dear land! My sandy plains!

In the face of crowds of mortal creatures

Im unable to conceal my pains.

 

Ive been filled with love and admiration

For the things embodying the soul.

Peace to aspens, lost in contemplation,

Spreading branches, staring at the shoal!.

 

I have thought in silence days and hours,

I have written songs. And I dont grieve.

I am happy in this gloomy world of ours

To have had a chance to breathe and live.

 

I am happy, I have kissed a woman,

I have slept in grass and flower-bed,

And I never, like a decent human,

Hit a dog or kitten in the head.

 

The unknown land! No blooming pictures!

No amazing fields of wheat, so fine!

Hence, before the crowds of mortal creatures

I have always shivers down the spine.

 

In that land, I know, there wont be any

Fields of wheat that shine like gold at night

Thats the reason why I love those many

Living with me in this country-side.

 

1924

***

I will not be wandering about

Trampling goose-foot in the bushes any more;

And I know youll never come around

In my dreams,  oat-haired, as before.

 

You were tender beautiful and fair,

Berry juice upon your skin, so light.

You  resembled rosy sunset glare,

And, like snow, you were lustrous, fair and bright.

 

Having shed their grain your eyes are fading,

And your name has melted like the sound of chimes;

But the folders of your crumpled shawl and veiling

Have retained the smell of honey from your arms.

 

When its quiet and the sunset smartens,

Like a kitten, washing up its face.

I can hear the honeycomb-like patterns

Chat about you, along with wind and haze.

 

Well, the evening tells me you are  oderous,

Like a dream, a flower and sweet song,

After all, who has designed your waist, your shoulders

Apprehending  holy secret all along?

 

I will not be wandering about

Trampling goose-foot in the bushes any more;

And I know youll never come around

In my dreams, oat-haired, as before.

1916

 

*** 

I do believe in happiness!

The sun has not yet faded. Rays

Of sunrise like a book of prayers

Predict the happy news. Oh yes!

I do believe in happiness!

 

Ring , golden Russia, carry on,

Oh blow you wind, so unabated!

Blessed is the one who celebrated

Your shepherds sadness, hope forlorn.

Ring, golden Russia, carry on!

 

I love the wild impetuous streams,

The shine of stars upon the water.

The blessed dejection, crying quarter,

The blessing people and extremes

Of roaring wild impetuous streams.

 

1917

 

 * * *

 

Silver bluebell, are you singing,

Or, perchance, my heart is dreaming?

Light from rosy icon flashes

Falling on my golden lashes.

 

Though Im not that gentle infant

in the flapping splash of pigeons,

Yet my golden dreams are distant,

Somewhere in the woodland regions.

 

I dont need the narrow house,

Word and mystery wont reckon.

Teach me, please to dream and drowse,

Fall asleep and never waken.

 

1917

 

* * *

I have left my endeared home,

Getting out of the land of blue.

Little grove by the pond will warm

My old mothers sorrow anew.

 

Like a golden croaker the moon

Lies prostrate on the water, tranquil.

Grizzly hair, like apple-tree bloom,

In my fathers beard will spill.

 

I will not come back readily, and

Singing blizzard will ring on and on.

Maple-tree guards the blue Russian land,

Standing there, one-legged, all alone.

 

And I know that its joyous for those

Whove been kissing the rain of the leaves.

For the maple and I, we both

Are alike, in the head that is.

 

1918

 

            ***

Theres the silly elation,

The garden the windows look on!

Soundless sunset reflection

Swims in the pool, like a swan.

 

Greetings, golden serenity,

Shadows of trees, black as tar!

Crows on the roof, in sincerity,

Hold vespers in praise of the star.

Timidly, over the garden

Where the guelder-rose springs,

A girl in a snow-white garment

A beautiful melody sings.

 

Like a blue gown, the evening

Cold from the meadow sweeps

Happiness, sweet silly feeling!

Virginal blush of the cheeks!

 

1918

 

 

***

Silver road, I wonder where

You are calling me anew?

Like a Thursday candle there

Shines a starlet over you.

 

Are you fraught with joy or sorrow?

Isnt madness your intent?

Help me, heart and soul, tomorrow

Love your hard snow to the end.

 

Give me sunset for the sleigh and

Willow branch that beautifies.

Maybe I will in the end

Reach the gate of paradise.

 

1918

* * *

To Kluyev  

 

My love has changed. I know you feel

Upset about the situation:

The crescents sweeper couldnt spill

The pools of lyrical creation.

 

Upset, but taking in good part

The star that fell upon your brows,

You spilt you heart about the house,

But theres no house in your heart.

 

The one you waited for to greet

Has passed your shelter like a cynic.

My friend, whomever did you gild

The key for with your singing lyric?

 

Youll never versify the sun

And never see the Heavens bound.

Just like a mill that flaps its fan

But cannot tear off the ground.

 

1918 

 

 

* * *

 

I do not regret, and I do not shed tears,

All, like haze off apple-trees, must pass.

Turning gold, Im fading, it appears,

I will not be young again, alas.

 

Having got to know the touch of coolness

I will not feel, as before, so good.

And the land of birch trees, - oh my goodness!-

Cannot make me wander barefoot.

 

Vagrants spirit! You do not so often

Stir the fire of my lips these days.

Oh my freshness, that begins to soften!

Oh my lost emotions, vehement gaze!

 

Presently I do not feel a yearning,

Oh, my life! Have I been sleeping fast?

Well, it feels like early in the morning

On a rosy horse Ive galloped past.

 

We are all to perish, hoping for some favour,

Golden leaves flow down turning grey.

May you be redeemed and blessed for ever,

You who came to bloom and pass away

 

1921

 

 

 

***

Sing, old man, to the bloody guitar, and

Let your fingers show natural bent.

I would choke in this drunken enchantment

Youre my last and my only friend.

 

Dont you look at her wrist and the blooming

Silky shawl hanging down her head.

I was looking for joy in this woman

But I found perdition instead.

 

I did not know that love was infection,

I did not know that love was a plague.

She just came and feigning affection

Drove the rowdy mad, no mistake.

 

Sing and let me remember, brother,

Our fidgety youthful whirl.

Let her kiss, pet and fondle another,

Ah, this beautiful wicked girl!

 

No, no, wait. I dont blame her or bully.

No, no, wait. I dont damn or disgrace.

Let me sing now about yours truly

To the sound of this string of base.

 

Rosy vault of my days is streaming.

Ive got plenty of golden dreams.

I have petted so many young women,

Touched and squeezed them, governed by whims.

 

Yes! There is bitter truth of the world

When a child I caught sight of that truth:

Troops of hounds, excited and wild,

Taking turns lick a bitch all in juice.

 

Why be jealous of her? I dont get.

Being sick would mere pretext.

Our life is just bed-sheet and bed.

Our life is a kiss and a vortex.

 

Sing , old man! In the fateful sphere

Of these hands is a fated end.

Tell them all to f out of here.

I will never be dead, my friend.

 

1922

 

             * * *

I will not deceive myself, admitting

I have worries in my heart, so dreary.

Why am I reputed as a cheating

Crook and trouble-maker, really?

 

I am not a villain nor a thief in hiding,

And I never shot imprisoned convicts.

I am just a thoughtless idler, smiling

Friendly and avoiding conflicts.

 

I am a naughty reckless Moscow loner.

All along the main street, and around,

Every little dog in every corner

Knows me by the way I tread the ground.

 

Every jade I meet, rundown and hopeless,

Gives me nods of hail and salutation.

I am a friend of animals, my verses

Are as good for them as medication.

 

I dont wear my hat to charm the ladies

For I cant stand featherbrained emotions.

Its convenient to use my hats as ladles

Filling them with oats to feed the horses.

 

I do not have friends among the people,

Its a different kingdom I am bound to.

I will gladly give my tie to simple

Shaggy dog I happen to encounter.

 

From now on I will be safe and sound.

In my heart a sunny day is breaking.

Thats the reason why they tend to count

Me to be a crook and trouble-maker.

 

1922

 

 

 

* * *

 

Yes! Its settled! Now and for ever

I have left my dear old plain.

And the winged leaves of poplars will never

Ring and rustle above me again.

 

Our house will sag in my absence,

And my dog died a long time ago.

Me, Ill die without compassions

In the crooked streets of Moscow, I know.

 

I admire this city of elm-trees

With decrepit buildings and homes.

Golden somnolent Asian entities

Are reposing on temple domes.

 

When the moonlight at night, dissipated,

Shines like hell in the dark sky of blue!

I walk down the alley, dejected,

To the pub for a drink, maybe, two.

 

Its a sinister den, harsh and roaring,

But in spite of it, all through the night

I read poems for girls that go whoring

And carouse with thieves with delight.

 

Though I talk, all I say is quite pointless,

With my heart pulsating so fast:

Just like you, I am totally worthless,

And I cannot re-enter the past.

 

Our house will sag in my absence,

And my dog died a long time ago.

I am fated to die with compassions

In the crooked streets of Moscow, I know.

 

1922

 

 

* * *

Azure space is aflame up above,

Ive forgotten my home destination .

For the first time Im singing of love,

For the first time I give up contention.

 

I was all like a desolate grove

Loving women and heavily drinking.

I dont drink any more and dont love

Like I did, living fast and unthinking.

 

All I want is to look at the vast

Of your gold-brown eyes, and, - oh, bother! -

How I wish that, disliking your past,

You would not like to go to another!

 

Tender step, graceful waist that you have!

Oh if only you were able to tumble

How a bully can really love,

And how he can be timid and humble!

 

All those pubs I would never attend,

And my poems would be forgotten,

If you just let me touch your hand

And your hair, the colour of autumn.

 

I would follow you ever, my dove,

Be it distant or close destination

For the first time Im singing of love,

For the first time I give up contention.

 

1923

 

 

* * *

 

Both this street and this little house

Have been long so familiar to me.

Up the window the blue straw of wires

Is weighed down as it once used to be.

 

Thereve been years of austere contingency

Years of vehement endeavours, too.

I remember my village, my infancy

And the countryside heaven of blue.

 

I did not search for fame and complacence

For I know all the price of reward.

As I sleep now I fancy the presence

Of my near and dear abode .

 

Theres the garden in livid speckles,

August sleeps on the railing lines.

Chirping birds fly around in circles

and repose in the clutches of limes.

 

I was fond of this wooden house,

Logs had menacing heated might,

Our stove would let out strange howls

As we tended the fire at night.

 

Its was wailing loud like funnel

As if mourning and suffering pain.

What on earth did he see, masons camel,

In the pouring and howling rain?

 

Well, it probably saw distant bounds

And the dream of a blooming phase,

Like Afghanistans sandy grounds

And Bukharas translucent haze.

 

Well, I know very well those locations

Ive been there as a travelling man.

Now I want to select destinations

But as close to my home as I can.

 

Golden slumbers have now faded out,

All has vanished in haze like foam.

Peace to you, grasses scattered about,

Peace to you, wooden parents home!

 

1923

 

* * *

Its sad to look at you, my love,

And its so painful to remember!

It seems, the only thing we have

Is tint of willow in September.

 

Somebodys lips have outworn

Your warmth and body trepidation,

As if the rain was drizzling down

The soul, that stiffened in congestion.

 

Well, let it be! I do not dread.

I have some other joyous gala.

Theres nothing left for me except

For brown dust and grizzly colour.

 

Ive been unable, to my rue,

To save myself, for smiles or any.

The roads that I have walked are few

Mistakes that I have made are many.

Thus funny life and funny split.

So it has been and will be ever

The grove with birch-tree bones in it

Is like a graveyard , well I never!

 

Likewise, well go to our doom

And fade, like callers of the garden.

In winter flowers never bloom,

An so we shouldnt grieve about them.

 

1923

 

 

 

 

***

 

Lets sit down here, my dearest,

Look and see how much I care.

I will listen to the tempest

Under your submissive stare.

 

All this golden vegetation

And this fair lock of hair,-

They have come just like salvation

Of the loafer free of care.

 

Long ago I left my village

With the blooming fields and thicket,

Tempted by the city image

And the life of fame, so wicked.

 

So I buried in oblivion

Orchard, summer I enjoyed

Where I, to the frogs singing,

Raised myself to be a poet.

 

Autumn with the golden branches

Maple, lime-trees, taking pleasure,

Stick their twigs inside, like clutches,

Searching for someone they treasure.

 

They are gone, our dear losses,

In the homely yard the crescent

Marks with beams of light on crosses

That well join them in the basement.

 

Going trough the troubles wholly

We shall go like this to welkin

All the winding roads are only

For the living beings welcome.

 

Lets sit down here, my dearest,

Come and look into my face.

Let me listen to the tempest

Under your submissive gaze.

 

1923

 

***

You have been used by someone else

But there is something good at bottom:

Your glassy hair casting spells,

Your weary eyes tired out in autumn.

The autumn age! Well, for my part,

I like it more than youth, I know it,

You're now much better to the heart

And fascination of a poet.

I never tell a lie at heart,

And to the call of ostentation

I'll say without hesitation:

Farewell to squabble, booze and that.

It's time to stop this rugged trick,

I've been so stubborn. That's the limit!

My heart has had a kind of drink

That sobers up the blood and spirit.

September knocks upon my pane

With willow branches showing crimson,

I have to be prepare'd again

For the arrival of the season.

I now put up with many things,

Without loss, or stress or bounds.

My Russian land has changed, it seems,

So are the houses 'nd burial grounds.

I look around, seeing through,

And here and there and everywhere

The only one for whom I care,

Is you, my friend, and sister, too.

You are the only one whom I,

Perfecting drawbacks of a sinner,

Will sing about roads, - oh my!-

The parting life of misdemeanour.

1923

 

***

 

Dont torment me with coldness and stiffness

And dont ask me my age and so on.

I have serious falling sickness

With my soul like a yellow bone.

 

Years ago I wasnt the same as

I am now. I was dreamy and all,

I imagined that I would be famous

Very wealthy and favoured by all.

 

Im excessively rich. I declare!

Theres my hat which I never use.

All I have is a shirt and a pair

Of worn out once elegant shoes.

 

I am famous as well. They know me

From Moscow to Paris scum.

And my name will arouse a stormy

Response, like a curse and damn.

 

As for love, dont you think its amusing?

As I kiss you, your lips are like dead.

Ive got love which I seem to be losing

Whereas yours hasnt bloomed as yet.

 

Im gloomy at times I dont care,

For it isnt yet time to be sad.

The young grass on the hills, like your hair,

Rustling, looks like a golden pad.

 

I would like to be there in that vastness

So I might, to the rustle of grass,

Fall asleep and drown in darkness

And daydream like I did in the past.

 

But the things I now dream about

Are quite new to the earth and the grass

For they cant be expressed and spelled out,

And they cannot be named, alas!

 

1923

 

 

***

 

Little house with light blue shutters,

I will never forget you, no way!

All these years that have gone with the shadows

Seemed so recent and not far away.

 

Up to now Ive been dreaming about

Our fields, woods and clouds on high

Under cover of grey cotton shroud

Of this poor old northern sky.

 

Though I cannot admire, however,

I dont want to get lost at all.

I suppose, Ive got now and for ever

Dismal warmth of the Russian soul.

 

I am fond of the silver cranes

Flying over I dont know where,

For they havent seen in these plains

Ample harvest of grain, as it were.

 

They have seen the blossom of trees,

Brittle willows, all curved and bare,

They have heard the whistles of thieves

That arouse such terrible scare.

 

So I cannot help caring about

You, my land, and its quite unconscious.

Under cover of cheap cotton shroud

I adore you with deepest emotions.

 

Thus appearing like recent shadows

Bygone years, they still hover to-day

Little house with light blue shutters,

I will never forget you, no way!

 

1924

 

 

A Letter to Mother

 

Are you still alive, my dear granny?

I am alive as well. Hello! Hello!

May there always be above you, honey,

The amazing stream of evening glow.

 

Ive been told that hiding your disquiet,

Worrying about me a lot,

You go out to the roadside every night,

Wearing your shabby overcoat.

 

In the evening darkness, very often,

You conceive the same old scene of blood:

Kind of in a tavern fight some ruffian

Plunged a Finnish knife into my heart.

 

Now calm down, mom! And dont be dreary!

Its a painful fiction through and through.

Im not so bad a drunkard, really,

As to die without seeing you.

 

Im your tender son as ever, dear,

And the only thing I dream of now

Is to leave this dismal boredom here

And return to our little house. And how!

 

Ill return in spring without warning

When the garden blossoms, white as snow.

Please dont wake me early in the morning,

As you did before, eight years ago.

 

Dont disturb my dreams that now have flown,

Dont perturb my vain and futile strife

For its much too early that Ive known

Heavy loss and weariness in life.

 

Please dont teach me how to say my prayers!

There is no way back to what is gone.

Youre my only joy, support and praise

And my only flare shining on.

 

Please forget about your pain and fear,

Please dont worry over me a lot

Dont go out to the roadside, dear,

Wearing your shabby overcoat.

 

1924

 

***

 

Now my grief wont be spilt by the ringing,

Happy laugh of the bygone last.

Lime-tree blossom is fading and dimming

And the nightingale dawns have passed.

All was new to me then, and emotions

Filled my heart to the brim, so good.

Whereas now every word, kind and cautious,

Tastes as bad as a bitter fruit.

 

The familiar expanses of valleys

Arent so nice as they were before.

Ditches, slopes, stumps and all sorts of gullies

Have disheartened my land evermore.

 

All is wretched, decrepit and drear,

Pond of grey is so hard on the eye

Yet to me all is near and dear,

Sorry vision that makes me cry.

 

Theres a little ramshackle house,

I can hear the bleat of a sheep,

And a horse put out to browse

Waves its tail by the pond, so deep..

 

This is Motherland, homeland of ours,

And it makes us sad in a way,

Here we cry, along with the showers,

In the hope for a cheerful day.

 

Thus my grief cant be spilt by the ringing

Happy laugh of the bygone last.

Lime-tree blossom is fading and dimming,

And the nightingale dawns have passed.

 

1924

 

 

 

A Letter to the Woman

 

Yes, you remember,

You certainly remember

The way I listened

Standing at the wall

As you walked to and fro about the chamber

Reproving me

With bitter words and all.

 

You said

That it was time wed parted,

And that my reckless life,

For you, was an ordeal,

And it was time a new life you had started

While I was fated

To go rolling downhill.

 

My love!

You didnt care for me, no doubt.

You werent aware of the fact that I

Was like a ruined horse, amidst the crowd,

Spurred by a dashing rider, flashing by.

 

You didnt know

That I was all a-smoke,

And in my life, turned wholly upside-down ,

I was in misery, downhearted, broke,

Because I didnt see which way we were bound.

 

When face to face

We cannot see the face.

We should step back for better observation.

For when the ocean boils and wails

The ship is in a sorry situation.

 

The world is but a ship!

But all at once,

Someone, in search of better life and glory,

Has turned it, gracefully, taking his chance,

Into the hub of storm and flurry.

 

Well, which of us

On board a mighty boat

Has never brawled nor barfed nor fallen down?

There are not many of them that will not

Despair when theyre about to drown.

 

Me, too,

To loud hue and cry,

But knowing well what I was doing

Went down to the hold where I

Might keep away from scenes of spewing.

 

Hold was a Russian pub

Where I

Drank, listening to the loud bicker,

I tried to stop my worries by

Just drowning myself in liquor.

 

 

 

My love!

I worried you, oh my!

Your tired eyes revealed dejection,

I didnt hide from you that I

Had spent my life in altercation.

 

You didnt know

That I was all a-smoke,

And in my life, turned wholly upside-down,

I was in misery, downhearted, broke,

Because I didnt see

Which way we were bound.

 

Now many years have passed,

Im not so young today.

I do not feel the same, and I have new ideas,

And here at festive table I will say:

Long live the one whos at the steers!

 

Today I,

Seized by tender feelings so,

Recall your wistfulness,  and now Im happy

To tell you straight for you to know

About what I was

And what has happened!

My love,

Im glad to tell you that

I have escaped a bad descent, an

Today Im in the Soviet land

A staunch supporter and defender.

Im not the man

I used to be.

I wouldnt hurt you now

The way I did. So silly!

And I would follow Labour, feeling free,

As far as English Channel, really.

Forgive me please,

I know that you have changed.

You live with an intelligent,

Good husband;

You dont need all this fuss and all this pledge,

And you dont need me either, such a hazard.

Live as you do

Lead by your lucky star

Under the tent of fern, if theres any.

My best regards,

Youre always on my mind, you are,

Yours, faithfully,

S e r g e y Y e s e n i n.

1924

* * *

The golden birch-tree grove has fallen silent

Its merry chatter having stopped afore,

The cranes up there flying over, sullen,

Have nobody to pity any more.

 

Whom should they pity? Each is just a trotter.

One comes and goes and leaves for good again.

The moon and hempen bush above the water

Remember all those perished, filled with pain.

 

Im standing on the plain all on my own,

The cranes, the wind is taking them away,

I think about my boyhood which has flown,

And I do not regret my bygones anyway.

 

I dont regret the days that I discarded,

I dont feel sorry for the lilac of my soul.

The purple rowan burning in the garden

Cant warm and comfort anyone at all.

 

The rowan will maintain its coloration.

The grass exposed to heat will not decease,

I drop my words of sorrow and vexation

The way a tree drops quietly its leaves.

 

And if some day the wind of time intended

To rake them all up in a useless roll

You ought to say: the golden grove has ended

Its lovely chatter in the prime of fall.

 

1924

 

 

***

 

Now  my grief wont be spilt by the ringing,

Happy laugh of the bygone last.

Lime-tree blossom is fading and dimming

And the  nightingale dawns have passed.

All was new to me then, and emotions

Filled my heart to the brim, so good.

Whereas now every word, kind and cautious,

Tastes as bad as a bitter fruit.

 

The familiar expanses of valleys

Arent so nice as they were before.

Ditches, slopes, stumps and all sorts of gullies

Have disheartened my land evermore.

 

All is wretched, decrepit and drear,

Pond of grey is so hard on the eye

Yet to me all is near and dear,

Sorry vision that makes me cry.

 

Theres a little ramshackle house,

I can hear the bleat of a sheep,

And a horse put out to browse

Waves its tail by the pond, so deep..

 

This is Motherland, homeland of ours,

And it makes us sad in a way,

Here we cry, along with the showers,

In the hope for a cheerful day.

 

Thus my grief cant be spilt by the ringing

Happy laugh of the bygone last.

Lime-tree blossom is fading and dimming,

And the nightingale dawns have passed.

 

1924

 

***

Blue is the night and the  moon is glancing

There was a time,  was young and handsome.

 

So irretrievable and so persistent

All has gone byall is past and distant

 

Cold is my heart and so dim is my sight...

Blue is my happiness! Moonlit the night!

 

October 1925

 

 

 

***

 

The snowstorm is crying like a Romany violin.

Sweet is the girl. She is wicked when smiling.

 

Her eyes, oh so blue, dont they give me a scare?

I need quite a lot, and I dont really care.

 

Were so much alike and so much contrasted

Youre young. I am old. And my life has all rusted.

 

The young ones are happy while I am all wizened

Recalling the past, in this terrible blizzard.

 

Imnot mollycoddled. The storm is my violin.

My heart is snow-clad when I see you smiling.

 

1925

 

 

                        * * *

 

Oh my dear maple, frozen stiff and bare,

Why do you stand bending in the blizzard there?

 

Have you seen a vision? Have you heard a babble?

Just like you are out for an idle ramble.

 

Like a tipsy warden, walking on the roadside,

You have stuck in snowdrift, hit by burning frost-bite.

 

I myself quite often lose my whereabouts,

Cannot find my house after drinking bouts.

Now I see a willow, now some other trees, and

Sing them songs about summer in a blizzard.

 

I would think myself to be a sort of maple,

Not a bare maple, - verdant as in April.

 

And forgetting virtue, drunk as drowned mouse,

I would hug a birch-tree like somebodys spouse.

 

1925

 

***

 

Blue is the fog, the expanse is snow-bound,

Fine is the beam of the moon that shines.

Isn't it nice to be sitting around,

Thinking about the bygone times?!

 

Down by the porch is the snow thawing out.

Just like to-night, by the moonlight, alone,

Putting my cap on, the wrong way about,

I ran away, on the sly, from my home.

 

Now I am back in my land, oh so dear,

Some have forgotten me? Others have not?

Just like a man in disgrace I am here

Outside my house with a garden plot.

Squeezing my fur cap, a dismal newcomer,

Somehow I don't like this sable at all.

Now I remember my granddad and grandma,

Friable snow in the graveyard and all.

 

All had calmed down , for 'we all would be there',

And no use to try to put back the clock.

That is the reason so much I care

So much I love them, my country folk.

 

I nearly burst out crying. I pondered.

And , forcing a smile, I stood in a fog,

Was it the very last time, I wondered

That I saw this house, this porch, and this dog?

 

1925

 

 

 

***

Snow-clad is the plain, and the moon is white

Covered with a shroud is my country side.

Birches dressed in white are crying, as I see.

Who is dead, I wonder? Is it really me?

 

1925

 

 

 

***

 

Snowdrift, piled up, is now brittle and callous,

Cold is the moon that shines from the height.

Now I am back at my dear old house,

And through the blizzard I see the light.

 

Well, we are homeless but we do not suffer.

I laud what Ive got, without complain.

Here I am back at my home having supper,

Happy to see my old mother again.

 

She looks, and I see that her eyes are in tears,

Silently crying, as if all was right.

Then, as she touches the cup, it appears

Stubborn, about to slip and slide.

 

Dear old mommy, my best and my tenderest,

Get grievous reflection out of your head.

Listen to me, to the song of the tempest

Ill tell you about my life instead.

 

Much have I seen and much have I travelled,

Much have I loved, and suffered, too.

I have caroused, stirred up trouble and revelled,

And havent seen anyone as worthy as you.

 

Now having slipped off my shoes and my jacket,

Warming myself by the bedside again,

I have revived and, like in my childhood,

I wish for good life, and I hope, not vain.

 

Meanwhile the blizzard is gasping and sobbing

Whirling in clouds of snow, through the night.

And I imagine, the leaves are a-falling

Those of the lime-trees that grow outside.

 

1925

I havent forgotten you, dearie,

The shine of your hair and all.

It wasnt so easy and cheery

To leave you, as I recall.

 

I havent forgotten the autumn,

The rustle of birches, the night;

And though the days were shorter

The moonlight was long and bright.

 

You whispered these words in my ear:

The years and the dreams will be gone,

Youll go with another, my dear,

And leave me all on my own.

 

That lime standing there, in flower,

Reminds my emotion anew

The way I would tenderly shower

Those beautiful flowers on you.

 

My heart will be warm, sad and sorry,

In love, remembering well

You, friend, as a fanciful story

Of love with another girl.

 

1925

 

                  * * *

 

Life is tricky with enchanting pathos

That is why it is so powerful, and

It composes its pernicious letters

With its outrageous, rugged hand.

 

When I close my eyes I tacitly declare:

Touch your heart and you will plainly see,

Life is fraudulent, but here and there

It embellishes deceit with trickery.

 

Now look up and face the silver heaven,

Read your fortune by the moon and plead,

Just calm down, mortal man, dont raven

The eternal truth you do not need.

 

Well, its nice to think in spring so crowned,

That this life has been the righteous way.

Let your easy girlfriends get around,

Let the boys delude you and betray.

 

Let the girls caress me, Ill abide it,

Let the vicious tongues be sharp and thin, -

I have long been living all provided,

Ive got mercilessly used to everything.

 

Highness chills my heart. Im feeling daunted.

And the stars are cold , unlike they used to be.

Those I used to love are disappointed,

Those I worshiped have forgotten me.

 

 

Though Im ostracised and censured here,

Yet I keep on smiling, not depressed at all..

Living in this world, so near and dear,

I am grateful to my life for all.

 

August 1925

 

***

 

Don't Fall, my little star, keep shining,

Keep dropping chilly beams of light.

There is no living heart abiding

Up there beyond the grave-yard site.

 

And from you beam you bring us summer

And fill the fields with rye and hay

And with a thrilling wistful clamour

Of cranes that havent flown away.

 

I raise my head and I can hear

Beyond the wood across the hill

A lovely song about the near

And dear homeland, such a thrill!

 

The autumn, turning gold, appears

To squeeze the juice from trees and plants;

Its shedding pensive leaves of tears

For the beloved and loving ones.

 

I know, I know, the time is near,

Through no ones fault, with no offence,

I, too, will rest in peace right here

Beneath the mournful little fence.

 

The tender flame will soon die out,

My heart will turn to dust, for worse,

My fiends will put a stone, no doubt.

With words of merriment, in verse.

 

But, feeling grief and seeing proper,

I d put it in the following way:

He loved his homeland like a toper

Adores a bar  and a buffet.

 

August 1925

 

 

***

Leaves are falling here and yonder.

And the wind is

drawling and low.

Who will gladden my heart I wonder?

Who will soothe it, my friend, do you know?

 

Im staring at the moon, and Im trying

Not to sleep keeping drowse away.

There again the rosters are crying

At the break of the autumn day.

 

Early hours of dawn, blue as ever

Blissful joy of the flying stars

I could now make wishes. However,

I dont know what to wish, alas!

 

What is there to wish for, I wonder,

Cursing home and my fate and all?

What I want is to see over yonder,

By my window, a beautiful girl.

 

I should like her,

as an exception,

To convey that she needs me sole,

And I want her, with words of affection,

To console my heart and my soul.

 

So that I, accepting my lessons,

On this wonderful moonlit night

Might not melt and faint from delight

And with jubilant adolescence

Might be pleased with my youth all right.

August 1925

 

* * *

 

The flowers say good-bye to me

They bend their heads and bow low down

Which means that I will never see

Her lovely face and my home town.

 

Well, thats the way it is, my love!

I saw them all in habitation,

I take this deathly trepidation

For tender feeling, still alive.

 

Ive learnt my life day after day,

I have been living with a smile, and

Thus I invariably say:

In our world all is recurrent.

 

Well, some one else will come along,

No grief will sooth the past. The new one,

Perchance, will sing a better song

For the beloved forsaken woman.

 

And listening to the song , maybe,

Caressing her endeared lover,

Shell probably remember me

As a unique and cherished flower.

 

October, 1925

 

 

* * *

 

 

Dont you force a smile, girl, tensely, like you do,

The one Im in love with isnt really you.

I suppose you know it, and you know it well,-

Im not here to see you but another girl.

 

I was passing by, and, well, I didnt care,

I saw you and wanted just to stop and stare.

 

October 1925

 

 

* * *

The snow is whirling lively and strong

A three horse sleigh is dashing along.

 

Some young ones are in the sleigh. Oh Boy!

Where is my happiness? Where is my joy?

 

All has slipped by through the storm in this way, -

Dashing like mad in a three horse sleigh.

 

October 1925

 

***

 

Oh,  what a night! I cannot sleep.

The sky is moonlit. Well, I never!

It seems that I in my heart I keep

The youth that has been gone for ever.

 

My friend of frosted bygone years,

Dont call a game love and affection,

Id rather have the moonlight rays

Flow down upon my habitation.

 

And looking down from above

Let it depict my features here, -

You cannot fall out of love

Just like you couldnt love me, dear.

 

We only love just once, you know,

So you are alien to me, strangely,

Just like a lime tree, foot in snow,

Is trying to attract us, vainly.

 

I know it, and you know it, too,-

What we can see at this late hour

Is frost and snow appearing blue

And not the splendour of a flower.

 

Weve had our love, our time and day

Each having someone to admire,

And now were fated anyway

To play affection, love, desire.

 

Come now, caress me, hold me tight,

Kiss me with hot, pretended fervour,

And may I dream about the light

Of spring and love that lasts forever.

 

November 30th, 1925

 

                    ***

 

Dont you look at me so reproachfully

For I dont bear malice to you,

But I like your appearance awfully

And your seeming modesty, too

 

Yes, you seem to be openhearted,

And Id rather be glad to see

How a fox pretending departed

Catches crows like you want to catch me.

 

Try to catch me, I wont be daunted

Mind, you dont have your ardour restrained!

Many girls of your kind have haunted

stumbling over my heart that waned.

 

Its not you that I love, my dearie,

Youre only an echo, a shade,

I imagine a different girlie,

Oh so beautiful blue-eyed maid!

 

Though she isnt so humble-looking

And appears to be rather cool,

Her majestic manner of walking

Has rekindled the depth of my soul.

 

Shes a girl that cannot be cheated,

Notwithstanding your will shell entice,

Whereas you cant be possibly fitted

In my heart with embellished lies.

 

Though I scorn you, yet like a layman

I will shyly and openly say:

If there werent any hell and heaven

They would think something up anyway.

 

December 1st, 1925

 

 

 

                 * * *

 

You dont love me and dont feel compassion.

Dont you think that now I look my best?

Though you look aside youre thrilled with passion

As you put your arms upon my chest.

 

You are young, so sensitive and zealous,

I am neither bad nor very good to you.

Tell me, did you pet a lot of gentle fellows?

You remember many arms and lips. You do.

 

They are gone and havent touched you any,

Gone like shadows, leaving you aflame.

You have sat upon the laps of many,

You are sitting now on mine, without shame.

 

Though your eyes are closed, and you are rather

Thinking of some one you really trust,

After all, I do not love you either,

I am lost in thought about my dear past.

 

Dont you call this zeal predestination?

Hasty tie is thoughtless and no good, -

Like I set up this unplanned connection,

I will smile when leaving you for good.

 

You will go the pathway of your own

Just to have your days unwisely spent,

Dont approach the ones not fully grown,

Dont entice the ones that never burnt.

 

When you walk with someone down the alley

Chatting merrily about love and all

Maybe, Ill be out, walking round shyly,

And again, by chance, Ill meet you, poor soul.

 

Squaring shoulders, ravishing and winning,

Bending forward, with an air kiss,

You will utter quietly: Good evening!

And I will reply: Good evening, miss.

 

Nothing will disturb my heart and spirit,

Nothing will perturb me giving pain,-

He whos been in love will not retrieve it,

He whos burnt will not be lit again.

 

December 4th, 1925

 

 

 

 

                   ***

 

Maybe, its too late or, maybe, early,

It has not occurred to me for years,

I resemble now Don Juan, really,

Like a proper flippant man of verse.

 

Whats the matter? What has happened, really?

Every day I have some other chick.

And I lose self-pity, willy-nilly,

And defy unfaithfulness and trick.

 

I have always kept my heart from simple,

Tender feelings, and I wonder what

I am looking for in oh, so cripple

Women, so light-headed, and so void.

 

Hold me back, restrain me, scornful feeling,

I have always been marked up by you.

In my heart I have a chilly steaming

And the rustle of a lilac, red and blue.

 

In my heart I have a lemon sunset,

Through the fog I hear someone say:

For your freedom you will have to answer,

Well, Don Juan, take the challenge, eh?

 

As I take the challenge within reason,

I can see the same old thing I have:

I must take a storm for blooming season

And mistake a thrill for real love.

 

Thats the reason Thats the way it happened.

Every day I  have some other chick,

So that I might always smile, be happy

And defy unfaithfulness and trick.

 

December 13, 1925

 

 


Sergey  Yesenin

Autobiography

(translated from the Russian by Alec  Vagapov)

  I was born in the village of Konstantinovo, Kuzmin district, Ryazan Region, on October 21st, 1895.

At the age of two I was sent to be raised in a well off family of my grandfather on my mothers side, who had three grown up unmarried sons, with whom I spent almost all my green years. My uncles were mischievous and daring. When I was three years old they put me on a horse without a saddle and set him running at a gallop. I remember I was scared like crazy and held the withers firm. Then they taught me to swim. One of my uncles (uncle Sasha) took me on a boat, rowed off the shore, undressed me and threw me, like a puppy, into the water. I worked with my hands awkwardly, and while I floundered waving my hands he kept shouting : You damned wretch! Good for nothing, you!. Damned wretch was a tender pet name he used. When I was eight years old my other uncle would use me as a hunting dog making me swim after the ducks he had shot. I was good at climbing trees. Among the boys in the neighbourhood I was known as a horse breeder and a big fighter, for I would always have scratches on my face. My grandmother was the only one who reproached me for being so naughty, while my granddad would sometimes set me on to fisticuffs and often said to grandmother: Dont touch him, you, silly woman, he will grow firm and strong that way!. Grandmother loved me devoutly, and her tenderness was boundless. On Saturdays I would be washed, have my nails cut, and my hair crimped with some oil because my curly hair couldnt be combed in any other way. But the oil would not help much. I would shout like crazy, and up to now I feel some distaste and repugnance for Saturdays.

That was the way my childhood went on. When I grew up a little they wanted to make a village teacher out of me, so I was sent to the parish teachers training school with an eye towards entering Moscow Teachers Training Institute. Luckily this was not to happen.

I started writing poems at an early age, maybe at the age of nine or so, but I think deliberate creative work started at 16 or 17. Some of my poems from that period are to be found in Radunitsa magazine.

When I was eighteen I sent my poems to various magazines and I was surprised at the fact that hey refused to publish them, so I went to Saint Petersburg. I was given a warm welcome there. The first man I saw was Blok the second one was Gorodetsky. When looking at Blok I was sweating all over for it was the first time that I saw a living poet. Gorodetsky acquainted me with Kluyev, the man I had never heard of before. Kluyev and I, despite the seeming discord and lack of agreement between us, made great friends.

At around this time I entered Shanyavsky University where I spent a year and a half, and then I went back to my village.

At the University I got acquainted with poets Semyonovsky, Nasedkin, Kolkolov, and Filipchenko.

Among the poets I liked Blok, Bely and Kluyev best. Bely gave me a lot in the way of form while Blok and Kluyev taught me lyricism.

In 1919 some of my friends and I published the manifesto of imagism. It was a formal school that we wanted to set up. But it had no foundation and died by itself leaving the truth behind the restricted image.

I would gladly disown many of my religious poems but they are significant as the way of a poet towards the revolution.

When I was eight years old my grandmother started taking me to all kinds of monasteries and thanks to her we had all kinds of ramblers and pilgrims. They would sing all sorts of religious songs. Grandfather was the direct opposite. He was a boozer. He would always arrange sorts of unwed marriages.

After I left my village I had to gain an understanding of my way of life.

During the revolution I was on the side of the October, but I accepted it in my own peasantry way.

In the sense of formal development I long for Pushkin more and more.

As for the rest of my personal data they are in my poems.

 

Sergey Yesenin

October 1925



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