(untitled Russian translation)

When I lived in this world
And breathed this air,
I’ve done some things,
Not others, no, I haven’t;
I held my tongue and whined,
Squandered as well as saved some,
Tried to be brave, I scoffed, I cried
Yet salvaged nothing;
And now that I am dead,
Into matter transformed,
Not Kierkegaard or Buber, no one
Can explain to me why,
What - they won’t tell me – for,
It’s seems too easy to ask why
I lived, and why I’d sit up in my bed
Suddenly awoken in the gloom of night…

Sergei Gandlevsky - 1995

Translated by - Olia Grebenyuk


  1. I like "awoken in the gloom of night"

    Is "the" used in russian ? Sometimes I get obsessed with switching them around or ommiting the "the"s and other little words.

    japanese doesnt really have little words. What does everyone think about the little words ?

    They sure are little.

  2. No we don't have little words in Russian. I agree that they are only little...I have trouble with them in fact. Does 'in gloom of night' sound strange in English though? Because a good translation should not apparently sound weird.

  3. apt...

    a little word I like...

  4. "in gloom of night" does not sound strange to me. in and of are little words too. "the" can be used once with either gloom or night, or both, or not at all, which is why i find it interestingish .

    robin blaser and robert duncan both translated a "de nerval" sequence (i think) and fell out over it. Their approaches to translation where so different. I will find this out.

    is it getting late ?

  5. Hello again. Is the poem starting with hesitancy ? The no, I didn't, or something - the poem is not on the comment screen infuriatingly so I cannot refer to it - I wonder what the punctuation here is in the original. A dash may give a sense of hesitation and recapitulation, or maybe some space between words on the same line.

    - just a thought . I like it though . Nothing unlikeable about it.

  6. Matt, what's your e-mail, I'll send you the original. Wait does this work?
    Когда я жил на этом свете
    И этим воздухом дышал,
    И совершал поступки эти,
    Другие, нет, не совершал;
    Когда помалкивал и вякал,
    Мотал и запасался впрок,
    Храбрился, зубоскалил, плакал -
    И ничего не уберег;
    И вот теперь, когда я умер
    И превратился в вещество,
    Никто - ни Кьеркегор, ни Бубер -
    Не объяснит мне, для чего,
    С какой - не растолкуют - стати,
    И то сказать, с какой-такой
    Я жил и в собственной кровати
    Садился вдруг во тьме ночной...

    there you are...yeh i kept the punctuation. It ain't hesitancy though...rather it's a confirmation...

    Maybe I didn't understand what you meant...

  7. I see . I was wrong, probably, about hesitancy, or, I was certainly wrong.

    more poems ! - please !

  8. can't believe this was so long ago.

    I like the poem even more now.

    I am still trying to sort some new comment and may well move this to the fore-front, perhaps newly done with the russian and everything.

    I am going to sort everything out, but it sure takes time, little hesitant steps.

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