My day on Earth draws to an end:
Five Poems by Sophia Parnok

Translated from Russian by Rainie Oet


My day on Earth draws to an end.

My day on Earth draws to an end.
I meet the evening without confusion.
And the past no longer casts
its shadow in front of me –

That long shadow, which in our
helpless tongue-tie
distinct from all other shadows
we call our future.
1927

 

Nowhere to run where death

Nowhere to run where death
won’t find you. All the same –
some people run. “No time, no time,
no time!” their foosteps pound.

New soldiers call out this refrain
marching down the road—
they’ve no time, no time, no time,
dear friend. It’s true for us too.

We run to the tram in the square
catching air in our mouths,
like overdriven horses
beaten with a knout.

Not asking or bemoaning anything,
we run possessed,
past people – and even past,
past our own selves.

But hunger always wants to talk.
She wails to us, who stay quiet,
from a heap of dirty coats.

She whines the body grows weak with age,
there’s no money to buy bread
and there’s never a shortage of grief.

September 21, 1927

 

The overcast day uncloses dark,

The overcast day uncloses dark,
at last the end is here…
My cold transparent poems,
my crystal ice!

Nobody will receive
my useless wealth.
I shine light on crystals and silver
only for me, –

and my Eternal Flame burns,
roseateing from inside …
and you, you who don’t need it:
do not gape at my feast …

This is the polar circle. Not for nothing
do I warm myself at dusk
near this glassed-in fire’s
innermost heat.

October 22-23, 1931

 

We squeezed into a chair at twilight —

We squeezed into a chair at twilight —
my anguish and I, the two of us.
We all would have died long ago,
but we’ve no time to die.
And there is no one to complain to
And no one to blame that there’s no time
to live
and no time
to rebel
and that there’s no time to die,
that a human was falling into despair
at rolling a rock up a hill,
and a pendulum was getting tired
of swinging day and night.

1927

 

Yes, I am alone. In the hour of parting

Yes, I am alone. In the hour of parting
you foretold orphanhood for my soul.
Alone, just as man was in the universe
on the first day of creation!

But what you predicted, in futile anger,
isn’t fated to me alone—
the best and purest among us
reveal that they too feel like orphans.

And there’s nothing lofty or good about the one
who didn’t tremble, not even once,
grieving, at Tiutchev’s line:
“How can another understand you?”



Duckweed

Translated from the Ukrainian by Hanna Leliv