May 312017
 

All I want to do is
escape the madness here.
To rise into the light
where I can disappear.

Where you can be like light –
and happiness is mine! –
and learn from every star
what it means to shine.

All I want to say is,
the whispering you hear –
that’s the sound of light
I whisper in your ear.

The thing that makes us light
the thing that makes us shine
is that I whisper words
and that this voice is mine.

 

The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems

(New York Review Books Classics)

Translated by Paul Schmidt.

 

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May 282017
 

Human reason is beautiful and invincible.
No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books,
No sentence of banishment can prevail against it.
It establishes the universal ideas in language,
And guides our hand so we write Truth and Justice
With capital letters, lie and oppression with small.
It puts what should be above things as they are,
Is an enemy of despair and a friend of hope.
It does not know Jew from Greek or slave from master,
Giving us the estate of the world to manage.
It saves austere and transparent phrases
From the filthy discord of tortured words.
It says that everything is new under the sun,
Opens the congealed fist of the past.
Beautiful and very young are Philo-Sophia
And poetry, her ally in the service of the good.
As late as yesterday Nature celebrated their birth,
The news was brought to the mountains by a unicorn and an echo.
Their friendship will be glorious, their time has no limit.
Their enemies have delivered themselves to destruction.

Berkeley 1968

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