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No. 7

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Nikolai Zabolotsky 

 
Translated from the Russian by Daniel Weissbort  
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BEETHOVEN
 

That very day when your accords
Surmounted the complex world of labour,
Light subdued light, cloud traversed cloud,
Thunder browbeat thunder, star entered star.

And in a frenzy of inspiration,
Amid orchestral storms, shudder of thunderclaps,
You climbed the nebulous stairway
And grazed the music of the spheres.

With your trumpet-grove, your lake of melody,
You overcame the dissonance of the storm,
And in the very face of nature shouted,
Your lionís head thrust between organ pipes.

And in the presence of terrestrial space,
You invested this shout with such significance
That speech, with a howl tore itself from speech
And became music, haloing your lionís face.

Again the lyre sounded in the bullís horns,
The eagleís bone a shepherd flute,
And you understood the living magic of the world,
And separated its evil from its good.

And through the tranquility of space,
The ninth wave rolled, reaching the very stars...
Thought, be manifest!   Speech, be as music,
Strike to the core, that the world might rejoice!

1946

First appeared in NIkolai Zabolotsky, Selected Poems (Carcanet, Manchester, 1999) 

 

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