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Poetry From the April 2011 issue: Writing from Quebec
An uncoincidence, a noncoincidence.
Oh, how broad are the earth’s estates,
oh, how unthinkable is grace here.
How unobtrusive is God's care,
how many reasons to sob inconsolably.
You thirst for communication—the time is mute.
You thirst for flight—unflyable weather.
You thirst for an answer—a blind wall,
stagnant water, swampy duckweed
and someone’s cold back.
What’s left then? To resign and to pine,
to comprehend too late, to repent with a delay . . .
the eternal gap between then and now . . .
Someone rushes to a house that’s been moved away,
searches desperately for the old door.
Copyright Larissa Miller. Translation copyright 2011 by Richard McKane. All rights reserved.
О, как обширны земные владения,
О, как немыслима здесь благодать.
Как ненавязчиво Божье радение,
Сколько причин безутешно рыдать.
Жаждешь общения – время немотное.
Жаждешь полёта – погода нелётная.
Жаждешь ответа – глухая стена,
Воды стоячие, ряска болотная,
Да равнодушная чья-то спина.
Что ж остаётся? Смириться да маяться,
Поздно прозреть, с опозданьем раскаяться…
Вечный зазор меж тогда и теперь…
Кто-то к снесённому дому кидается,
Ищет в отчаянье старую дверь.
Larissa MillerLarissa Miller
Born in 1940, Larissa Miller was educated at the Foreign Languages Institute in Moscow and later taught at Moscow University. A major lyrical poet, she is the author of ten books, including Nameless Day; My Land and Home; Let's Talk about the Paradoxes of Love; Holidays, Holidays; and Between the Cloud and the Pit. Dim and Distant Days (English translation published by Glas) is her book of memoirs, looking back over nearly five decades of Soviet history to her hungry but happy childhood in postwar Moscow; her coming of age as a Jewish girl in an anti-Semitic regime; and her encounters with the KGB as an English interpreter in the 1960s and again in the 1980s as the wife of the famous human rights activist Boris Altshuler. Her poems have been translated into English, French, Polish, Dutch, Norwegian, and Swedish. Guests of Eternity, Richard McKane's translation of Between the Cloud and the Pit, was published in 2008 and received a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. The winner of several literary prizes, Miller was short-listed for the State Prize in 2000.
Read more about Larissa Miller at her personal Russian-English bilingual Web-site: www.larissamiller.ru.
Translated from RussianRussian by Richard McKaneRichard McKane
Richard McKane was born in 1947 and has a degree in Russian from Oxford University. Based in London, he is a poet and translator of Russian and Turkish poetry.
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