Springtime in Moscow

    I don’t fully understand this poem by Boris Pasternak.  But I am drawn to its strong images of spring coming to the city.  Interestingly, this poem and others are published in the new translation of Doctor Zhivago under the authorship of the character Yuri Zhivago!  This poem was translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.–April Moore

     Yuri Zhivago

Spring comes barging loutishly
Into Moscow’s private houses.
Moths flutter behind the wardrobe
And crawl over the summer hats,
And fur coats are put away in trunks.

Pots of wallflowers and stock
Stand on the wooden mezzanines,
There’s a breath of freedom in the rooms,
And the garrets smell of dust.

And the street enjoys hobnobbing
With the nearsighted window frame,
And the white night and the sunset
Can’t help meeting by the river.

And in the corridor you can hear
What’s happening in the wide outdoors,
What April says to the dripping eaves
In a random conversation.

He can tell a thousand stories
About the woes of humankind,
And dawn feels chilly along the fences,
And draws it all out endlessly.

And that same mix of fire and fright
Outside and in our cozy dwellings,
And the air everywhere is not itself,
And the same transparent pussy willows,
And the same swelling of white buds
At the window and at the crossroads,
In the workshop and in the street.

Then why does the distance weep in mist,
And why does the humus smell so bitter?
In that precisely lies my calling,
So that the expanses won’t be bored,
So that beyond the city limits
The earth will not languish all alone.

It is for that my friends and I
Get together in early spring,
And our evenings are farewells,
Our little feasts are testaments,
So that the secret stream of suffering
Can lend warmth to the chill of being.





4 Responses to “Springtime in Moscow”

  1. Elizabeth H. Cottrell Says:

    Can you imagine how much spring must mean to anyone who has such severe winters? Gorgeous imagery.

  2. Judy Muller Says:

    What a very unusual poem, a poem that could be read over and over again, a poem from a very different time and place, with language a bit quaint and archaic. I can only imagine the challenge of translation, and the two translators trying out various possibilities. Thank you for this glimpse into a time and world so different from our own.

  3. Diane Artz Furlong Says:

    Yes, marvelous imagery. I suppose he is speaking in reference to the Russian revolution? Just finished watching the movie again a few days ago. It was a big part of my life for a while when it first came out. I had a friend with enormous, liquid brown eyes and a shock of hair on his forehead, just like Yuri’s. Very romantic.

  4. Susan Labin Says:

    Thank You April for bringing this to light.

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