Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva Translated by Nina Kossman

November 1, 2015 | By | Reply More

These are ashes of treasures,
Of pain and loss.
Faced with such ashes,
Granite turns to dust.

A dove, naked and taintless,
Alive, yet matchless.
These are Solomon’s ashes
Above the great vanity.

The menacing chalk mark
Of the dawnless age.
God’s at my doorstep
If my house is burned.

Unsmothered by rubbish,
Lord of dreams and of days,
My spirit—like fire–
Out of my great hair flies!

My years, you did not betray
Me into backing down.
This gray hair is the victory
Of immortal powers.

Это пеплы сокровищ:
Утрат, обид.
Это пеплы, пред коими
В прах — гранит.

Голубь голый и светлый,
Не живущий четой.
Соломоновы пеплы
Над великой тщетой.

Беззакатного времени
Грозный мел.
Значит Бог в мои двери —
Раз дом сгорел!

Не удушенный в хламе,
Снам и дням господин,
Как отвесное пламя
Дух — из ранних седин!

И не вы меня предали,
Годы, в тыл!
Эта седость — победа
Бессмертных сил.


A soldier—into a trench,
A head of hair—into grayness,
Sky! I blend with you, sea-like.
On every syllable
As at a secret look,
I turn,
I preen.

A Scythian—into a skirmish,
A whip—into a wild dance.
Sea! I brave into you, sky-like.
In every poem
As at a secret catcall
I stop,
I listen.

Every line cries: “Stop!”
A fortune in every period.
Eye! I melt into you, light-like;
Go loose. Like a guitar
I reshift myself,
I reshape myself.

Marriage is not in swan’s down
But in swan’s feather!
There are different marriages, disjointed ones!
At the sight of a dash
Like at a secret sign,
Eyebrows twitch
Mistrusting what?

Away from the thin soup of glory
My spirit grew strong!
And my treasury is full!
Like the bread of the Lord,
Under your touch,
I grind myself anew,
I break myself in half.

В седину – висок,
В колею – солдат,
– Небо! – морем в тебя окрашиваюсь.
Как на каждый слог –
Что на тайный взгляд

В перестрелку – скиф,
В христопляску – хлыст,
– Море! – небом в тебя отваживаюсь.
Как на каждый стих –
Что на тайный свист

В каждой строчке: стой!
В каждой точке – клад.
– Око! – светом в тебя расслаиваюсь,
Расхожусь. Тоской
На гитарный лад

Не в пуху – в пере
Лебедином – брак!
Браки розные есть, разные есть!
Как на знак тире –
Что на тайный знак
Брови вздрагивают –

Не в чаю спитом
Славы – дух мой креп.
И казна моя – немалая есть!
Под твоим перстом
Что Господень хлеб

Editor’s Note

When Women Waken invited Nina Kossman to share a couple of her own poems and a couple of her translations of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poems with our readers as our featured artist and poet. Nina graciously accepted.

These two poems were published in Nina Kossman’s book of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poetry translations “In the Inmost Hour of the Soul” published in 1989 by Humana Press.

Marina Tsvetaeva is one of the most renowned 20th century Russian poets. (1892-1941) She lived during very turbulent years, and experienced poverty and recurring tragedy before taking her life in 1941.


Moscow born, Nina Kossman is an artist,  writer, poet, and playwright. Her paintings and sculptures have been exhibited in Moscow and New York. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a UNESCO/PEN Short Story Award, grants from Foundation for Hellenic Culture and Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, she is the author of two books of poems in Russian and English as well as the translator of two volumes of Marina Tsvetaevas’s poetry, Poem of the End: Selected Narrative and Lyrical Poems and In the Inmost Hour of the Soul (Vox Humana). Her other publications include Behind the Border (HarperCollins,1994) and Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths (Oxford University Press, 2001).  She Lives in New York.

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Category: Fear, Poetry, Russia, United States of America

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