translated from the Russian by James Stotts
No crying, calling out, complaining,
This all will pass, like the green of gold,
Like the white smoke of apple blooms,
And I won’t be as young as I used to.
Already, your blood isn’t as quick as it was,
I tell my heart—and it’s getting colder.
White birch roots stitch the ruddy fields
And you’ve lost the urge to wander.
Lips and eyes, emotions:
Where are your fire and anger,
Where your floods?
All were fresh, now are errant, scattered.
My wants are sparer now, leaner,
Or maybe they were just a dream
—Like the moment morning flashes green—
And I charged past on my sorrel steed.
We’re all, all of us in this world soon to spoil.
Copper leaves are tumbling coyly from the maples . . .
World-weary drifter, be forever grateful
To have faded fast, in early petalfall.
Sergei Esenin (1895–1925), the self-proclaimed “last poet of the village,” registered with tragic awareness the industrialization of the Russian countryside and the political strife following a civil and a world war. His many wives included the American dancer Isadora Duncan, with whom he toured the United States. His growing despair at urban life fed his manic depression and substance abuse, and in December of 1925 he committed suicide by hanging himself from the waterpipes in his room at the Hotel Angleterre in Leningrad.
James Stotts is a poet and translator at work on an anthology of the Russian masters (from Pushkin and Fet, through Mariengof, Vaginov, Mandelstam, Gumilev, Esenin, and Tsvetaeva, to Brodsky and Ryzhii) in formal translations and abusive studies. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, with his wife and son, and is a bartender in Cambridge. (4/2010)