Pasternak by Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell


 Pasternak has given me special problems. From reading his prose and many translations of his poetry, I have come to feel that he is a very great poet. But I know no Russian. I have rashly tried to improve on other translations, and have been helped by exact prose versions given me by Russian readers. This is an old practice; Pasternak himself, I think, worked this way with his Georgian poets. I hope I caught something worthy of his all-important tone.


Pasternak, đặc biệt, làm phiền tôi. Đọc thơ xuôi và rất nhiều bản dịch, thơ của ông, tôi nghĩ trong bụng, nhà thơ lớn, rất lớn. Nhưng tôi lại đếch biết tiếng Nga. Tôi bèn làm liều, dịch đại, theo nghĩa, làm cho nó khấm khá hơn, improve, những bản dịch khác, và được trợ giúp bởi những ấn bản thơ xuôi đích thực, do độc giả Nga cung cấp. Đây là 1 cách thực hành cổ, xưa: Pasternak, chính ông ta, cũng chơi, cùng 1 trò như vậy, theo tôi, với những nhà thơ Georgian. Tôi hy vọng, chôm được 1 cái gì đó thật có giá trị, của cái giọng rất kẻ cả, trưởng thượng, của ông – his all-important tone -

Wild Vines 

Beneath a willow entwined with ivy
we look for shelter from the bad weather;
one raincoat covers both our shoulders-                     '
my fingers rustle like the wild vine around your breasts.
I am wrong. The rain's stopped.
Not ivy, but the hair of Dionysus
hangs from the willows. What am I to do?
Throw the raincoat under us!

In the Woods 

A lilac heat sickened the meadow;
high in the wood, a cathedral's sharp, nicked groins.
No skeleton obstructed the bodies-
all was ours, obsequious wax in our fingers….

Such, the dream: you do not sleep,
you only dream you thirst for sleep,
that some one elsewhere thirsts for sleep-
two black suns singe his eyelashes.

Sunbeams shower and ebb to the flow of iridescent beetles.
The dragonfly's mica whirs on your cheek.
The wood fills with meticulous scintillations-
a dial under the clockmaker's tweezers.

It seemed we slept to the tick of figures;
in the acid, amber ether,
they set up nicely tested clocks,
shifted, regulated them to a soprano hair for the heat.
It seems a green and brown happiness flits beyond us;
sleep smothers the woods;
no elegiacs on the clock's ticking-
sleep, it seems, is all this couple is up to.

Hamlet in Russia, A Soliloquy 

"My heart throbbed like a boat on the water.
My oars rested. The willows swayed through the summer,
licking my shoulders, elbows and rowlocks-
wait! this might happen,

when the music brought me the beat,
and the ash-gray water-lilies dragged, and a couple of daisies blew,
and a hint of blue dotted a point off-shore-
lips to lips, stars to stars!

My sister, life!
the world has too many people for us,
the sycophant, the spineless-
politely, like snakes in the grass, they sting.

My sister!
embrace the sky and Hercules
who holds the world up forever
at ease, perhaps, and sleeps at night
thrilled by the nightingales crying….

The boat stops throbbing on the water….
The clapping stops. I walk into the lights
as Hamlet, lounge like a student against the door-frame,
and try to catch the far-off dissonance of life-
all that has happened, and must!

From the dark the audience leans its one hammering brow against me-
ten thousand opera glasses, each set on the tripod!
Abba, Father, all things are possible with thee-
take away this cup!

I love the mulishness of Providence,
I am content to play the one part I was born for…
quite another play is running now…
take me off the hooks tonight!

The sequence of scenes was well thought out;
the last bow is in the cards, or the stars-
but I am alone, and there is none . . .
All's drowned in the sperm and spittle of the Pharisee-

To live a life is not to cross a field." 



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