Thursday, May 19, 2011

Personal geometry

We have recently passed the first anniversary of the death (6 May 2010) of Elena Shvarts, one of Russia's finest contemporary poets. Here is her "Poetica -- More Geometrico" (translated into English by Thomas Epstein).

     Poetica -- More Geometrico     by Elena Shvarts

     Parallel lines converged.
     In the corner where they crossed the shelter blushed.
     The soul set off like train lights, leading
     In every direction -- but they converged,
     And all my souls suddenly collided
     Smashed against a sturdy dark
     The mind could no longer comprehend.

     Lost in the woods, drowned in oceans
     O my soul, you called up from a pit
     But the poems, like dogs, flew headlong in mad sleights,
     Parallel tropes converged.

They met from where they set out --
     In this obtuse angle,
     Lancing subcutaneous life.
     Now I live at their convergence --
     A lump of coal sputters in each letter.

     But the mind was given dark clothes
     Against the stitched, living dark  --
     The wind blows too hard
     In this blessèd corner of words.

I have found this poem in the fine collection Crossing the Centuries;  The New Generation in Russian Poetry (Talisman House, 2000).

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