Saturday, December 26, 2009


We’re having a real holiday here, as proved by the timing of blog posts! I expect to be back on a normal schedule tomorrow, with the final installment of Dad’s Photos.

This month the Weekly Poem series has featured works in translation; we’ve had some great poets: Vallejo, Bachmann & Saba. I’ve been thinking about this week’s selection for awhile, & have been considering poems by two great Russian poets, Anna Akhmatova & Marina Tsevetayeva; the problem was, I just couldn’t settle on a poem by either. This morning as I was looking thru their works, still trying to make a choice, poems by another poet with whom I was unfamiliar, Bella Akhmadulina. As it turns out, I should be familiar with Akhmadulina, & I’ll take steps to correct this in the very near future.

Bella Akhmadulina was born in 1937, & has been called the greatest living Russian language poet by Joseph Brodsky. Early in her career, her poems were suppressed because, like Akhmatova’s, they were considered too personal & intimate. Since the 1980s, however, she has received recognition, including a term as laureate.

Hope you enjoy this wonderful poem—& do seek Akhmadulina out online, where there are a number of translations, or in your local bookseller.


Winter, to me your gestures are
cold and careful: yes, in
winter there is something
gentle as medicine,

or why else would sickness
put out trusting hands
into that season, from its own
torture and darkness?

Weave your magic then
my love, let the kiss
of one curl of ice
brush over my forehead.

Soon I shall trust any
deception, and look without fear
into the eyes of dogs, as I
press close to the trees:

And forgive, playfully, with a
run, turn and jump; and
after a bout of forgiveness
forgive again,

become like a winter’s day:
empty and oval, though
in comparison to such
presence, always small.

I shall turn to nothing, and
so call over the wall,
not some shadow of myself, but light
I shall not block at all.

Bella Akhmadulina
Translated by Elaine Feinstein


  1. My Music Blog

    Das Leben dergleichen Halbfaßung
    der Welt wahr immer nicht wahr,
    nicht wahr? Die fristlos' Entlaßung
    am Ende wird kaum wunderbar.

    So laßen uns Menschlingen viele
    besonders besonnene zum
    Zeitweilegem Zeiten als Ziele
    des Lebens halbfaßen darum.


    Schwarzes Birne!
    Aufforderung zur Erotik.

    Meine deutsche Gedichte


    I went downtown, saw Katie in the nude
    on Common Avenue, detracted soltitude
    as it were, like a dream-state rosely hued,
    like no one else could see her; DAMN! I phewed;

    was reciprokelly then, thank heaven, viewed,
    bestowed unique hard-on! but NOT eschewed,
    contrair-ee-lee, she took a somewhat rude
    'n readidy attude of Sex Prelude; it BREWED!

    And for a start, i hiccuped "Hi!", imbued
    with Moooood! She toodledooed: "How queued
    your awe-full specie-ally-tee, Sir Lewd,
    to prove (alas!), to have me finely screwed,

    and hopef'lly afterwards beloved, wooed,
    alive, huh? Don't you even DO it, Duu-uuude!"

    My English Poetry Blog

    N'est-que pas que la solitude elle-mème eveille quelque attente fébrile? Voici l'entrée, vide, discrètetement illuminée comme une musée nocturne – la terasse, avec ses torchères ondoyantes par un soir d'Avent étrangement doux – laissant le vestibule et les murmures de voix – la chambre immaculée immaculée et la musique de danse derrière le mur – et le bar à cocktails mondains – le bassin où le nageur s'entrâine, longeur après longeur, il en n'a jamais assez, il doit y mettre de sien – enfin, tournant vers le haut au coin du sombre couloir vient la fille noire et pâle, altière, déterminée et de style épuré, ainsi qu'un moderne avion de chasse suédois.



    Exit time. Las chicas dejan el espejo de bar
    dormindose en sus corazónes de alta traícion.
    El Señor no levanta. Él pastorea a sus pies
    los presuntos compradores. Y nos bendice.

    My spanish poetry blog


    Consider Sex and time, procreation, reincarnation. Trigonometry! I envisage the time axis as the repetitive tangens function. Do you see what I mean? What can be tentatively derived from this notion? Clue: orgasm AND birth pangs at tan 0.

    My Philosophy

    My Babe Wallpapers

    You are very welcome to promote your blog on mine. They are well frequented, so there's mutual benefit.

    - Peter Ingestad, Sweden

  2. Hi Peter: I'm not entirely sure how to respond to this, but I very much appreciate your interest in RFBanjo & thank you for following.

  3. What a beautiful poem, John! When I read something like this, I think I'm just playing around and this is poetry. Thanks.

  4. Hi Karen: Really glad you liked it! However, I'd hasten to add that what you write is most certainly poetry, & good poetry at that.


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