Friday, November 29, 2013

Three Poems (Fedor Svarovsky) Translated from Russian by Peter Golub

The Funeral of Mekhos

Four tall white robots
Lay you into your grave
Elan Mekhos
My love
Forgive me
Says Kazanal Issyck
(According to ancient Mamla tradition
These last words cannot be too serious)
You loved marmalade and tea
With caramel soothed your tongue
You were just like
Only better
Eternal peace be with you
As they say, Kaas da Utas
Sleep, your honor
Until the resurrection of the body
Until the end of universal darkness
Let ashes ashes rest here now
And grasses rise tomorrow
In the new world, there will be no evil
With the Eighth Cycle, darkness recedes
Alright, enough:
Koolook in Mamla
Shoosle Doo Rion in Camde
Salolma Koot in Keriodi
And Koo-oo Dde Kravva in ancient Keno
Though we know
It all means
The same thing
Your broken lung be my open hand
Your tired liver my own mind
Your still heart, I, your wife

Visitors in Exile

She drifts into sleep
Beneath the weight of the familiar paws
And heavy head
Of the hound
The radio emits
Hazy music
And undecipherable voices
On the couch
In front of the ultraviolet lamp
In red sunglasses
With sunburned skin
He sits
As if in a bivouac
On a foreign planet
He looks
Like an insect
Afraid of burning his cornea
Of the radiation
He falls asleep
With his face to the sky
So as to catch any passing ship
All the same
He wears the glasses
So as not to go blind
Upon waking in the morning
Like a plant that needs more water
Than its environment can provide, thirst
And hunger, are constant companions
And fear as well
Of missing the tiniest variance
In what seems an absolutely empty ether
Even in sleep
Tightly clutching the transmitter

They live in a rented room

In a grey nine-storey building
At the edge
Of the metropolis
She says
She is the exiled heiress of a small kingdom
In the Pleiades
He claims to be an AWOL military robot
Who found himself on this planet
As the result of by a strange series of events
Beginning with love, then
A rare manifestation of will
And finally, truancy
They would most likely forget these memories
If they could
And leave the incompatibility
Of their origins
In the past
But she cannot
Shrug the habit of constant comparison
Between what was
And what is
He, of course, has a perfect memory

Even the hound
Thinks he is an exile
From another distant galaxy
He licks his wounds
And using only his mind
Moves the bones of cows and sheep
They have lain before him
There was nothing extraordinary
When they picked him up
On the street
In December
And now he preoccupies himself
With the stick, the rubber hedgehog, the old sock
The home planet is clear
In his mind
As is its destruction
His memory of tall buildings
Crumbling into dust
Still brings nauseating fearOf death
Of shame
When it passed over them
Leaving no time
To say good-bye
The hound too
Dreams of erasure
To forget
To lose his celestial gifts
And knowledge
But there is no way
And this unseen suffering
Caused by that parting with the past
At the shorthaired alien

She is always dreaming of something:
For instance, April comes
The unending blizzard ends
With the arrival of the birds
The Earth's sky is clear
Light clouds hover
The reconnaissance ships will drift by
Some will come down
They will need water and uranium
Grass, salt, garlic, nicotinic acid, flour
She says:
We will go with them
Leave our clothes and furniture

To find a place near a window
(God how I want to see that dark expanse
Pierced with the light of the stars)
We'll go to Messier 81
3Σ Gaulete has the most beautiful oceans and mountains
You know that site−Gardens of the Universe

I recently read an article about all sorts
Of decent jobs
Gardening, farming, even gathering wild plants
There are lakes everywhere
Full of warm
Pristine water
There, I swam as a little girl
When my father would fly us
To a large wooden house
Up in the north
You wake up
And the silence surrounds you
When he left me alone in the house
I would dive from the window
And turn on my back so as to slowly drift
Down, bright-green plants swayed in the current
And with my eyes to the surface
I would sink until my back touched the sand
Then I would gradually ascend
Toward the house, quivering
In the overgrowth and twisted branches
The rays of light would pierce through
The undulating shadows
Through, the mirror
Membrane of the water's surface
Down to the bottom of the lake
To my shimmering

He watches TV
Until 4 a.m.
Drinking cognac
Filling his glass higher and higher
As if
Its effects only diminished with the night
For some time he debates going to sleep
At 4The robot, drunk and tired, wakes the heiress
Who is still loudly talking in her sleep
She hides her face, presses
Into the back of the couch
--Shhh, don't yell
Come on, please
Off to bed
You can't sleep on the couch
In your clothes
You know how you'll feel in the morning
She mechanically gets up and goes to bed
Where she falls into more dream
More spring on Earth
But the temperature drops
And a tremendous wind
Picks up
Turning into a blizzard
In the dark sky above the metropolis
An imperial spaceship heads for the blue planet
Pushing through the darkness
At tremendous speed
Leaving a long trail of incandescent particles
It is unaffected by weather
Highly resistent to gravity and electromagnetic fields
The pilot navigating the ship
Is familiar somehow
As if he were an old childhood friend
Who had grownup
Into a man
But then she recognizes
His nose and brown eyes
The robot appears by her side
(For some reason he's wearing velvet pants
And a velvet topcoat
The sleeves of his blue shirt are too long)
He takes her gently
By the hand
He checks the monitor
It's Tamaduaran, he says
We're savedShe stares at him
That ship, he says,
Belongs to Captain Lorador
A relative of the dog
The ship
Was controlled
By a hound

Two Robots

Across that wide river
Amidst heavy fire
Petka and Chapayev
Guns roared
Shrapnel simmered
Into the water
One of them was hit
And drowned
Before nightfall the other managed
To reach the center of operations
And delivered
The confidential report
As a result
Four divisions
Successfully withdrew
From ambush
"Piotr, Piotr"
Said the marshal,
"You really have no idea
What you've done for us
You're a commander now
Everything has been arranged
In Petrograd
You're a hero
Keep your wits about you
We're at war Piotr
As for Chapaev
Honor his memory by fighting."
Sat on the shore (smoking and crying)
And inorganic
With shoddy RAM
And scrambled Boolean sets
They truly don't make models like you anymore
At the factory
I remember
How they called you scraps
It is my loss now
You were like a brother to me
As a robot
You know
How much
This means

Peter Golub is a writer and a translator of contemporary Russian literature. He edited the online project New Russian Poetry for Jacket Magazine in 2008, and has published several books of original and translated work. A translation of Andrei Sen-Senkov’s book, Anatomical Theater is due out in 2014 (Zephyr Press). He is the recipient of a PEN Translation Prize and a BILTC Translation Fellowship. He lives in San Francisco and is an editor with St. Petersburg Review.
Fedor Svarovsky was born in 1971 and emigrated to Denmark at the age of 19, where he received refugee status and lived for six years. In 1997, he returned to Moscow where he continues to work as a journalist. Author of three books, his poems have appeared in such leading journals as Novyii Mir and Vozdukh/Air. English translations of Svarovsky’s poems by Peter Golub are in Jacket Magazine, Diagram, Two Lines (Feb. 2012,) Absinthe (blog, March 6, 2013), and by Stephanie Sandler in World Literature Today. In 2011, Svarovsky participated in PEN’s New Voices reading series at the National Arts Club in NYC, through CEC ArtsLink. Russian Originals are in Novyi Mir, Ural, and Text Only. 
Other translations of Svarovsky by Peter Golub, are in Jacket, The Diagram, Two Lines (Feb. 2012,) and an essay in Absinthe (blog; March 6, with an essay.) Another, translated by Stephanie Sandler, is in World Literature Today. Alex Cigale's translations of Svarovsky are in Eye of the Telescope, and forthcoming in Star Line 34.2.
[N.B. We (Alex Cigale and Peter Golub) have just had word that our Selected Svarovsky in English is forthcoming in 2015 from Coeur Publishing. AC]
-- Fedor Svarovsky

No comments:

Post a Comment