For his father’s death
I see a radiant cloud, I see a rooftop glisten
like a mirror, far away . . . I listen
to breathing shade, light’s stillicide . . .
You’re absent – why? You’re dead, and on a day
the humid world is bluish. God’s sacred spring is on her way,
swelling, calling . . . And you’ve died.
And yet, if every stream anew the wonder sings,
and yet, if every falling golden thaw-drop rings –
if these are not bedazzling lies,
but quivering, dulcet convocations: ‘Rise again’ –
a mighty ‘Blossom!’, then you are in this refrain,
you’re in this splendor, you’re alive! . . .
From Vladimir Nabokov: collected poems, newly translated by Dmitri Nabokov, edited with a new Introduction by Thomas Karshan. Published by Penguin Classics, London & New York.