No. 2


Marina Tsvetaeva 

Translated from the Russian by Alexandra Smith 

To Byron 

I think about the morning of your glory, 
The morning of your hours, 
When like a demon you’ve awoken gloomy 
And came a god to us. 

I think about your eyebrows, how they cover 
Two torches’ flames, 
About the ancient blood that runs like lava, 
Right through your veins. 

I think about the fingers, very long and 
Half sinking in the hair, 
About those eyes, which always look so longing 
For you – in halls and alleys, 

About the hearts (you were too young to own them!) 
You have not read, 
At times when moons kept rising in your honour 
And in your honour – set. 

I think about the velvet, lace — in gather, 
About the dusky hall, 
And all the poems — only to each other 
We would have told, 

And what is left from lips, from eyes and hair — 
A heap of dust, 
I think of eyes that were interred here, 
Yes, all of them — and us. 

24 September 1913 

Soul and name 

How can I say to dancing ‘nay’? 
My soul would like to spin. 
Yet God has given me a name 
Which is marine, marine! 

I dance a waltz, the ballroom beams, 
I keep my grief within, 
Yet God has given me different dreams 
Which are marine, marine! 

Oh, how appealing is this ball! 
It sings, it draws me in. 
Yet God has given me a soul 
Which is marine, marine! 



The snake in my heart, my forehead’s stamped, 
I’m nailed to the stake of shame 
Of the old Slav conscience; yet I state: 
I’m not accepting the blame. 

More, I aver: I am at peace 
As when the Eucharist approaches, 
And if I supplicate for grace 
It’s not my fault, do not reproach me. 

Just look again at all I’ve got 
And tell me — am I blind or senseless?— 
Where is my silver? Where is my gold? 
A handful of ashes — nothing else, no! 

And nothing more, by charm or prayer, 
Was begged from those whose life is easy. 
And that is all I’m taking there, 
Into the land of silent kissing. 



When I look at leaves — flying, rushing 
Down to the cobble paving, 
Being brushed aside – as if by an artist 
Who is finally finishing his painting, 

I keep thinking (everyone is surprised by 
How I look; as thoughtful as autumn), 
That one strikingly yellow, decisively rusty — 
One such leaf on the very top is — forgotten. 


                         I laid a table for six… 

I keep repeating all the time 
Your poem’s line ‘I laid the table 
For six,,,” — correcting in my mind 
Your number: you forgot the seventh! 

Unhappy there – the six of you. 
Rain streams are running down your faces… 
How could you – at a time like this 
Forget about the seventh place here… 

Your guests aren’t happy, can’t you see? 
And your decanter is standing idle. 
It’s sad for them, you are sad yourself, 
I am the saddest, uninvited.  

Ah, you don’t want to drink, to eat. 
It is so cheerless around here. 
How did you count? How could you do it?— 
How could you just forget the number? 

Could you not, dare not accept 
That six (two brothers and your parents 
With you yourself, your wife…) —except 
Just me! — still comes, of course,  to seven! 

You laid your table just for six. 
The world in sixes can’t be measured! 
I’d like to be a ghost and mix 
With your (my!) kin.. It’s not a pleasure 

To be seen 
        Now as a bogey… like a thief, 
Oh! – not a single soul disturbing... — 
I sit right where the seventh would be  
Without a setting – self-asserting. 

Now! – I knocked over the glass! 
And everything that carved to spill more, — 
Blood out of wounds, salt-tears out of eyes — 
Off the  tablecloth —onto the floor. 

And – coffin’s gone! Farewells – none! 
The spell’s broken, house woke up now. 
Like death come to a wedding feast, 
I’m life itself — arrived for supper. 

No one is brother, husband, son, 
Nor friend — but even so, I blame you: 
— You laid  a table for six souls – 
But not for me – at the end of the table. 





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