The following is a poem, an ‘Unfinished Poem’ in fact, by the Russian poetess, translator and civil rights activist Natalya Gorbanevskaya – a truly remarkable woman worth reading (and reading about).
This poem I find particularly beautiful for the sorrow and weight of history it carries or conveys. The collective trauma of history is evoked in the passing of a bleak yet familiar night that effaces both the year and the age.
The day breaks, the date appears and you find yourself weeping…on the bridge on the river.
So sad. So beautiful.
‘Already past midnight, and every
other street lamp burns.
Wander about the town until
the sun appears at dawn.
Night has erased the year, the age
from the buildings’ façades.
The town is bleak as a kitchen garden,
but the town is like the ark –
floating, floating, now it sails
into dawn’s bitterness,
and between the windows, at the gates,
the age, the date appears,
and on the bridge over the river,
you return to yourself, weeping…’
This particular translation is from, Weissbort, Daniel (ed) 1974, ‘Post-War Russian Poetry’, Penguin Books, England , p. 206. You can find the wikipedia entry on Natalya here. You can find further English translations of her works here.