Marina Tsvetaeva

M
Marina Tsvetaeva
from “An Attempt at Jealousy”
How is your life with that other one?
Simpler, is it? A stroke of the oars
and a long coastline—
and the memory of me

is soon a drifting island
(not in the ocean—in the sky!)
Souls—you will be sisters—
sisters, not lovers.
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Bound for Hell
Hell, my ardent sisters, be assured,
Is where we’re bound; we’ll drink the pitch of hell—
We, who have sung the praises of the lord
With every fiber in us, every cell.

We, who did not manage to devote
Our nights to spinning, did not bend and sway
Above a cradle—in a flimsy boat,
Wrapped in a mantle, we’re now borne away.
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from “The Desk”

Fair enough: you people have eaten me,
I—wrote you down.
They’ll lay you out on a dinner table,
me—on this desk.

I’ve been happy with little.
There are dishes I’ve never tried.
But you, you people eat slowly, and often;
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“I am happy living simply”
I am happy living simply:
like a clock, or a calendar.
Worldly pilgrim, thin,
wise—as any creature. To know

the spirit is my beloved. To come to things—swift
as a ray of light, or a look.
To live as I write: spare—the way
God asks me—and friends do not.

1919

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“A kiss on the forehead”
A kiss on the forehead—erases misery.
I kiss your forehead.

A kiss on the eyes—lifts sleeplessness.
I kiss your eyes.

A kiss on the lips—is a drink of water.
I kiss your lips.

A kiss on the forehead—erases memory.


1917
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from “Poems for Blok”
Your name is a—bird in my hand,
a piece of ice on my tongue.
The lips’ quick opening.
Your name—four letters.
A ball caught in flight,
a silver bell in my mouth.

A stone thrown into a silent lake
is—the sound of your name.
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from “Poems for Moscow”
From my hands—take this city not made by hands,
my strange, my beautiful brother.

Take it, church by church—all forty times forty churches,
and flying up the roofs, the small pigeons;

And Spassky Gates—and gates, and gates—
where the Orthodox take off their hats;

And the Chapel of Stars—refuge chapel—
where the floor is—polished by tears;
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from “Poems to Czechoslovakia”
Black mountain

black mountain
blocks the earth’s light.
Time—time—time
to give back to God his ticket.

I refuse to—be. In
the madhouse of the inhumans
I refuse to—live. To swim
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“Where does such tenderness come from?”
Where does such tenderness come from?
These aren’t the first curls
I’ve wound around my finger—
I’ve kissed lips darker than yours.

The sky is washed and dark
(Where does such tenderness come from?)
Other eyes have known
and shifted away from my eyes.

But I’ve never heard words like this
in the night
(Where does such tenderness come from?)
with my head on your chest, rest.

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"Our sweet companions-sharing your bunk and your bed"
Our sweet companions—sharing your bunk and your bed
The versts and the versts and the versts and a hunk of your bread
The wheels' endless round
The rivers, streaming to ground
The road. . .

Oh the heavenly the Gypsy the early dawn light
Remember the breeze in the morning, the steppe silver-bright
Wisps of blue smoke from the rise
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