Igor Severyanin. Selected Poems

  • Igor Severyanin. Selected Poems
  • Breathe in the Sunlight
  • Envy Not Your Friend
  • It Took Place At The Sea
  • Spring Day
  • Oblivion in Sin
  • Champagne Polonez
  • In Luminous Darkness
  • Overture
  • Introduction
  • Love is causelessness
  • Painted Ones
  • Poem of the Reason for Cheer
  • Poem to Luminous Brother
  • Poem of Despair
  • Poem of Old Rhythms
  • Poem to Refugees
  • Poem of Feeling of Spring
  • Brilliant Poem
  • Cultivated Lilac Blooming
  • To Felissa Kruut
  • Poem to Death
  • To One Different from Others
  • Praise to the Fields
  • They all speak about the same thing
  • Classical Roses

  •       © Copyright Igor Severyanin
          © Copyright translation by Ilya Shambat (ilya_shambat2005(a)yahoo.com)
          Date: 12 Feb 2005

          Breathe in the Sunlight
          Envy Not Your Friend
          It Took Place At The Sea
          Spring Day
          Oblivion in Sin
          Champagne Polonez
          In Luminous Darkness
          Love is Causelessness
          Painted Ones
          Poem of Reason for Cheer
          Poem to Luminous Brother
          Poem of Despair
          Poem of Old Rhythms
          Poem of Feeling of Spring
          Poem to Refugees
          Brilliant Poem
          Cultivated Lilac Blooming
          To Felissa Kruut
          Poem to Death
          To One Different from Others
          Praise to the Fields
          They all Speak About the Same Thing
          Classical Roses

    Breathe in the Sunlight

          Breathe in the sunlight, live with the sunlight -
          And with the sun you will glisten too!
          The earth will be warm in the living sunlight
          Of hearts that knew of the light and good.

          Breathe in the heaven, live with the heaven -
          And with the heaven will shine your eye.
          With love to earth will descend the heaven
          And world, forgiven, will meet the sky.

    Envy Not Your Friend

          Envy not your friend if hes more handsome,
          More intelligent or wealthier than you.
          Let his merits and let his successes
          Not tear up the laces on your shoe.

          Move along your way without a care,
          Smile still broader out of his success!
          Maybe hell face darkness and despair
          And your porch will be adorned with bliss!

          Laugh with him, and cry with his distresses:
          Feel him with your heart, and for all time!
          Do not block your friend from his successes:
          Its a sin to do so! Truly, its a crime!

    It Took Place At The Sea

          It took place at the sea, in the foam of the ocean,
          Where the carriage of city rarely arrives.
          In the tower of a palace the queen was playing Chopin,
          And to sound of Chopin the page fell in love.

          It was all very simple, it was all very dear:
          The page asked him to cut pomegranate in half,
          And she gave him a half, and the page she did tire,
          And to sound of sonatas the queen fell in love.

          And she later submitted, submitted with thunder,
          Like a slavegirl she slept all the night till the day.
          It took place at the sea, where the turquoise waves wander,
          Where the pages sonatas and azure foam play.

    Spring Day

          This day of spring is hot and golden -
          The citys blinded by the sun!
          Im me again! I am emboldened!
          Im in love, happy and Im young!

          The soul sings and bursts for the fields and
          I come to strangers and say "hey."
          What spaciousness I feel! What freedom!
          What songs and flowers in my way!

          Soon - vanish into the young meadows!
          Soon - into snowdunes, full of bliss!
          To look in pink faces of women,
          Like friend, an enemy to kiss!

          Make noise, the springtime forests mighty!
          Bloom, lilac bushes! Grow tall, grass!
          No sinners: Everyone is righteous
          On a day so divinely blessed!

    Oblivion in Sin

          All joy - in the past, irretrievable and evanescent
          But in the present - prosperity and despair.
          The heart is tired and thirsts in fire at sunset
          Of love and passion - its lured by freedom from care.

          The heart is tired of prosperitys narrow confines,
          Its in despair, in chains, in complete distress...
          Despairs to dream, and to trust, and in darkened numbness
          It pulses with sadness, in cast of laziness...

          And life charms and conjures, and with the trail
          Of family weekdays lures somewhere...
          To hearts chagrin: it fears with its betrayal
          To end its prosperity in sunset hour.

          It is empowered with motherhood and with loyalty,
          It fears to leave his loved ones like piteous orphans...
          But theres no unison, and it beats in loneliness
          And life passes, and it might tear the cold coffin.

          Oh heart, oh heart! Salvation is in your madness!
          While you can burn and beat, burn and keep beating!
          Sin braver! May do-gooder come way of mummies:
          In sin - oblivion! And there - no bullet or rail can reach me!

          Youre loved, sick heart! Youre loved, loved all out!
          Love in response! In greeting! Yes, love in ardor!
          And be at peace: Live - rightly! And vanquish doubt!
          Be joyful, heart: Youre young! Beat loud and harder!

    Champagne Polonez

          Champagne in a lily! Champagne in a lily!
          With health and with wisdom it sparkles and shines!
          A shot of Mignon with one of Escamillio
          Champagne in a lily - a sacred wine.

          Champagne in a lily bursting and sparkling -
          The wine contained in a flowers cup.
          I glory in rapture the Christ and the Antichrist
          With soul deified in delight of a gulp!

          A hawk and a mourning dove! Reichstag and Bastille -
          The sleep and the wakefulness! Demon and Lord!
          Lily in champagne and champagne in a lily -
          The lighthouse of oneness in sea of discord!

    In Luminous Darkness

          Tuxedoed, attired immaculately, the high-society gentlemen
          Stupefying their faces, brought themselves into a room,
          I gave a forced smile, sarcastically ash and darkness remembering:
          A new poetic motif unexpectedly breaking the gloom.

          Every line - a slap on the cheek. My voice - torture, atrocity.
          Rhymes come together happily. Tongue shows the assonance.
          I despise you fiercely, O all you dim luminosities,
          And, while despising, I count on global resonance!

          With light youre fogged over evilly, O the luminous audience!
          Hidden from you, undeserving ones, is futures horizon youve sought.
          In Severyanins time, O all you dim luminosities,
          It should be known that since Pushkin came both Blok and Balmont!


          Pineapples in champagne! Pineapples in champagne!
          Deliriously tasty, sparkling and bright!
          Im in something from Norway! Im in something from Spain!
          Im inspired in bursts and I sit down to write.

          Planes are screeching above me! Automobiles are running!
          Express trains whistling by and the yachts taking flight!
          Someones kissed over here! Someone elsewhere is beaten!
          Pineapples in champagne - the pulse of the night!

          Among nervous girls and in company of women
          Tragedy I am turning to dream and to farce.
          Pineapples in champagne! Pineapples in champagne!
          Moscow to Nagasaki! New York to Mars!


          Im nightingale: no traits I carry
          And without special depth I sing.
          But everyone, from crone to baby,
          Will know me, singer of the spring.

          Im nightingale, I am a graybird,
          But like a rainbow is my song.
          I only have a single habit:
          To other lands to lure the throng.

          Im nightingale! What for, then, so
          Is godless critic with his scorn?
          Seek, swine, the treasure in a trough,
          And not in garlands made of thorns!

          Im nightingale, and, beside singing,
          No other use can come of me.
          I am so wondrous beyond reason
          That Reason bows before my feet!

    Love is causelessness

          Love is a causelessness. Thoughtlessness even.
          To love for a reason? I love for I feel.
          Love is like a troika, demented and rabid,
          Rushing toward a ship that is leaving to sail.

          Where to? Does not matter. I like aimless journeys.
          Magnolias blooming... Wandering ice...
          Fly onward, my troika, in path of a snowstorm,
          Where my ship gets ready for watery flight.

          Stomp out, my dear troika, discretion and reason,
          Smoke with a fire, flaming, foaming and white!
          What for? For no reason - my heart's drunk with freedom
          >From reason. The ship leaves. On it Ill take flight.

    Painted Ones

          Theyre "red" today, and theyre "white" tomorrow -
          Ah, no tapestry! No flowers, this!
          Tiresome to me to the point of nausea,
          Small people hideous and turned to beasts.

          Lowly today and tomorrow lowly,
          Today the thieves and tomorrow too.
          Vile scoundrels now and vile scoundrels formerly,
          Will provoke any revolt for you.

          Ideas foolish, dreams, all in vanity,
          That in their theory is way to god.
          They all are colorless in their entity -
          Today theyre "white" and tomorrow "red"!

    Poem of the Reason for Cheer

          We live in astounded wonder
          At change of contrasting events.
          Viennas horrors and hunger
          Threw us into chills and cold sweat.

          And that, which we left on the east side -
          Unfathomable to the mind.
          In some times and dates you are trusting,
          Not knowing yet how and why.

          You arent weak in the soul, I am sure,
          As you lean over life, like an urn:
          In a republic miniature
          The big order has been born.

          Perhaps we are broken in hope
          And thrown into an abyss:
          Were sated, were sated, and so
          Were ready for faith and for bliss.

          We trust - we cant not trust, I found!
          We wait - we cant not wait in our turn!
          That world will in that measure be crowned
          Which divine grace will return.

    Poem to Luminous Brother

          To birds and to poets the Lord all their sustenance gives:
          I dont reap or sow, but for a second year I exist.
          And for kind song-poems the people whore also kind
          Will forgive your errors and sins, too, if any they find.
          Who needs the art now? Who needs it - I do not know,
          But to me its air, and I keep singing so.
          And radiant someone - not Russian, Estonian - stranger -
          An angel of God? Follows me and protects me from danger.
          In art he believes, and to me he is brimming with love:
          "Be yourself, poet: Sing all your songs, stay alive!"
          And like a poor bird, poet is glad of alms in his plight...
          O luminous brother, I sing you with song of delight!

    Poem of Despair

          I know nothing, I trust in nothing,
          I no longer in life see its brighter side.
          I approach my friend as if he were a lion
          I need nothing else. I am bored and tired.

          Someone knifes someone, smothers another..
          Everywhere, cheating, lying and greed.
          Would eyes not see and would ears not hear!
          Lermontov! Werent you right - "what in world is good?"

          Even thought is corrupt, even love is deceiving.
          Theres no fulfilled dream. All is smoke and mirrors.
          I see no joy in living, see in life no meaning.
          Im feeling horror. I master fear.

    Poem of Old Rhythms

          O you the ancient rhymes and rhythms,
          Seized on by many poets,
          The banal, cheap, and puny ones,
          Cliches overcooked and boiled!
          You sound with the guitar strings,
          With rhythms and rhyme impoverished,
          Than all new things more beautiful
          To my simplistic soul!

          You were under Derzhavin,
          You were under Nekrasov
          You were under Nikitin,
          And under Tolstoy too!
          Oh you - just like an avalanche!
          And though you were discarded,
          And though new ones are written -
          You burst into my book!

          I greet you, my dear loyal ones,
          The fully tried and tested ones,
          The musical and flowerful
          And most beloved by me!
          Exemplary companions
          You dear ones, you tender ones,
          The happy and the sorrowful
          The nightingale-like rhythms!

    Poem to Refugees

          In these miniature Russian colonies
          Those who are hiding from lawlessness
          Their sinful bodies and souls,
          Interests are so pitiful
          Feelings vicious and hypocritical:
          They seek only food and warmth.

          They all eat - it is only appropriate,
          And the warmth in our time is important too,
          Nobody will argue with that.
          But apart from the warmth and the victuals
          There are needs mental and spiritual,
          Besides breakfast and wood and coat.

          There is theater, symphony and poems,
          There are paintings, and if in Estonia
          There is no such delight,
          My compatriots, Russian terribly,
          Its your fault that you see things narrowly,
          And you lose your hearing and sight.

          If youll find nothing like this within this land
          And this village except the wheat bread,
          Maybe at nights we will perform
          Shows of music and poems, and vocalists
          We will give majestic performances
          And perhaps we will dance until dawn.

          Maybe well declaim aloud Gogols thought
          (Fess up: you did not read a lot
          Of his work in your life, dear friends).
          Maybe take something from Nekrasov
          And to know travels of Hatteras, if
          Nietzsche, for one, the powers forbid.

          But what are such pursuits to you
          Calling nothing but curses out of you
          Better revelry, maps and food!
          Better gossip, intrigue and constant complaints
          That for long the army should have advanced
          For your sake to retake Petrograd.

    Poem of Feeling of Spring

          You are ready from gloom to suicide,
          Hang yourself, or shoot in the mouth.
          Wait a while - and the spring will come to your side
          After just three more snowy months.

          Nightingales of the cherry will whistle,
          Full of nightingales cherry will stand.
          May go past you the shot from the pistol
          And the rope fall apart in your hands.

          With the fishing rods made of redwood
          People will catch the fish on the hook,
          And the swan with white breast and white feathers
          Will swim lightly upon the lake.

          Mounds will breathe with dampness and drown,
          Will send redolence and be green,
          And your neck, as it gives a way down,
          Will become pouring with rain.

          And the bushes under flooding river
          Into lilac and cherry will bloom.
          Noisy, singing, the spring will deliver
          All your girlfriends and also - you.

          And will love, and will bloom, and will spring again
          All that dimmed in the winter from gloom.
          All the dry will be cut by axe-wielding hand
          And the juicy will bravely bloom.

          Do not kill yourself, do hang your head,
          Rather let your fantasy play.
          We will live through these months however we can,
          And soon afterwards - there is May!

    Brilliant Poem

          I do not want to live my life, like all,
          Living like squirrels in a hamster wheel,
          Walking around in circles, being slaves,
          Afraid of storm and of the ocean waves.

          I want to live uplifted like an eagle;
          I want to live conceited like a Creole;
          Smashing, threatening barriers, sliding by
          Between the two "forbidden"s intertwined.

          I want to live, a wise and brilliant man
          Of all his peers a century ahead
          And yet in other measures, to exist
          A fifty years behind my time at least.

          I want to live, as it behooves to live
          To him who knows to conjure and conceive
          New notes from ancient ones and from the past -
          I want to live the way life lives, at last!

    Cultivated Lilac Blooming

          In violet and purple bloomed the lilac,
          The lilac bloomed in pink and white and pale.
          We headed toward it on a tortuous trail
          Across an ancient fur and furrowed park.

          Sea to the left; river ahead, and hills -
          Behind; the blooming lilacs on the mounts
          Weave from the gentle smell delightful clouds
          And breathe the timeless redolence that heals.

          The lilac bloomed, and to my love I told:
          "If only I could take pen in my hand!"
          And she responded sharply in her stead:
          "The lilac blooms - large, and like ruby and like gold."

          The night is fickle, nervous, luminous.
          The kisses, nibbles until lips turned blue.
          Theres so much taste and elegance in you
          The lilac bloomed - the bodies bloomed in us.

    To Felissa Kruut

          My dear Felissochka! My most exquisite!
          I give you "Minstrel" and all my dreams.
          You are beloved by all thats delicate,
          My sweet Felissa - My violin!

          May to the crude one you be an egotist -
          I care not: You are most loved by me!
          My most talented! My sweet Felissochka!
          My one sought after! My destiny!

          The hate of sin here is love of marriage:
          You like it when I say "bride" to you.
          Symbol of Hestia! Little Hestochka!
          In you again I will find my youth!

    Poem to Death

          In name of the Lord I forbid you to come
          Into the house where Lord willed for life to bloom
          In name of God I forbid you, death!

          Is there not enough space in the whole wide world -
          In cannons maw and in the steel of the sword?
          In name of God I forbid you, death!

          Go, go far away, whore! Do not stand at the door!
          Do not warm poets home with your icy breath!
          In name of God I forbid you, death!

    To One Different from Others

          Youre in no way like other women at all:
          You have laughter controlled and expressive,
          You wear dresses measured and fashionably long
          And you slip out from my embraces.

          You do not cut your hair to look upscale,
          Deepen brows or wear make up,
          You have Smirnoff, but also a nightingale
          Who in nature becomes his replacement,

          You are able to see in the sugar the salt,
          And in just uttered word, a full sentence.
          In Akhmatova you value pain without halt
          And in Gumilev - charm and cadence.

          For you, connoisseur of all kinds of verse,
          Sharpness of Sologubov means something,
          And that you and Blok never did kiss
          You are grieving sixth summer and counting.

          And in your eyes, as they are now getting well -
          Ocean breeze and a rye field in season.
          Youre in no way like other women at all,
          And youve become my wife for that reason.

    Praise to the Fields

          My fields, my wave-like, foaming fields!
          With autumn spinach, brown as if of bricks,
          And lettuce, clover, heather and daisy.
          How much the eyes can hear and ears can see!

          I walk along the side of the river.
          The wildflowers shine like sapphire
          Leaning beneath the wheats golden frame,
          I hear, as in the river splashes elm,

          This splash like music gives its gentle sound.
          And the blue storm of sea? A burst of sun?
          And clouds within the sky, all white like sheep?
          The life with its simplicity is deep.

          While I am able still to touch your breath,
          May it become and stay forever blessed!
          And may the ground become the earth in bliss -
          The fields, the fields, the life-begetting fields!

    They all speak about the same thing

          Nightingales of monastery garden,
          Like all nightingales flying above,
          Say that there is but one joy in living,
          And that this joy comes in form of love.

          And the monastery meadows flowers
          With the tenderness just flowers possess,
          Say theres but one merit: Lovers
          Touch their lips together and caress.

          And, filled to the brim with blueness endless,
          Lakes among the monastery wood,
          Say: Theres no more azure glance
          Than in those who love and who are loved.

    Classical Roses

          Once, when the dreams would bloom - the times were those -
          In peoples hearts, transparent and aflame,
          How fresh, how beautiful have been the roses
          Of my love, of my spring, and of my fame!

          The years have passed, many a tear flows -
          The country and its people all are lost.
          How fresh, how beautiful are now the roses
          Of memories of my delightful past!

          But days go by, and thunders in repose.
          Russia is seeking pathways to go home.
          How fresh, how beautiful will be the roses
          That my country will throw upon my tomb!