Monday, May 12, 2008

Marina Tsvetaeva's "Selected Poems"

I'm reading Elaine Feinstein's translation of the poems. Tsvetaeva's voice is intensely lyrical, passionate and bitter. It can be satirical, against the rich and the newspapers readers on the Parisian Metro, but its dominant tones are abasement--towards poets she revered--and recrimination--against unfaithful lovers. So far I prefer the shorter lyrics to the sequences. "As people listen intently" makes me smell my hearing, and and crave my remembering.

As people listening intently
xxx(a river's mouth to its source)
that's how they smell a flower
to the depths, till they lose all sense.

That's how they feel their deepest
xxxcraving in dark air,
as children lying in blue sheets
peer into memory.

And that's how a young boy feels
when his blood begins to change.
xxxWhen people fall in love with love
they fling themselves in the abyss.


Greg said...

Thanks for posting this. I'd never heard of Tsvetaeva before. I like very much the connection between listening and desire - to me it's so much more interesting, worthwhile, & substantive than connections people can make between grasping and desire, target-hitting and desire, or abject submission and desire.

Jee Leong Koh said...

abject submission and desire? Now that would be another poem.