U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Friday, June 4, 2010

I Am Sad


In my land and yours they do hit the hay
and sleep the whole night in a similar way.

There's the golden Moon with a double shine.
It lightens your land and it lightens mine.

At the same low price, that is for free,
there's the sunrise for you and the sunset for me.

The wind is cool at the break of day,
it's neither your fault nor mine, anyway.

Behind your lies and behind my lies
there is pain and love for our Motherlands.

I wish in your land and mine some day
we'd put all idiots out of the way.

(Alec Vagapov's translation)


Andrei Voznesensky ( May 12, 1933 - June 1, 2010) was a Russian poet and writer. He has been referred to by Robert Lowell (1917 - 1977, United States) as "one of the greatest living poets in any language."


Andrei Voznesensky with Ronald Reagan

Andrei Voznesensky and Allen Ginsberg


MODERN NATURE by Andrei Voznesensky

Red cows on the asphalt road have settled.
Lazing on the asphalt pan they lie.
We drive them round for cows are sacred!
They are loyal to the highway, we wonder why.
"Old herdsman, we want our question answered:
Why have the cows gone mad?"
"God forbid! The point is that flies do not like asphalt."
Those modern cows! The are wise indeed!
They got it, the sly ones! Cattle of genius!
Unlike the poor, unfortunate flies.
"The flies know that asphalt is carcinogenic."
Those modern flies! They are really wise!
(Alec Vagapov's translation)

Andrei Voznesensky was one of the "Children of the '60s", a new wave of iconic Russian thinkers who tasted intellectual freedom during the post-Stalin thaw.
Voznesensky was considered "one of the most daring writers of the Soviet era" but his style often led to regular criticism from his contemporaries and he was once threatened with expulsion by Nikita Khrushchev:

1963. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev threatens to exile A.Voznesensky and yells at him during a meeting with Soviet art and literary figures.
He performed poetry readings in front of sold-out stadiums around the world and was much admired for his skilled delivery. Voznesenky's long-serving mentor and muse was Boris Pasternak, the Nobel Laureate and the author of Doctor Zhivago.
Andrei Voznesensky met Allen Ginsberg, Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan and became a friend of Jean-Paul Sartre, Pablo Picasso, Arthur Miller and Robert Kennedy.

1967. New York. Andrei Voznesensky and Robert F. Kennedy
A. Voznesensky was on a reading tour of colleges. Photo: Meyer Liebowitz/The New York Times
Before his death, he was both critically and popularly proclaimed "a living classic", and "an icon of Soviet intellectuals".
His books of poems include "The Triangular Pear", "Antiworlds", "Stained-glass Master","Violoncello Oakleaf" and "Videoms and Fortune Telling by the Book".

HUNTING A HARE by Andrei Voznesensky

Hunting a hare. Our dogs are raising a racket;
Racing, barking, eager to kill, they go,
And each of us in a yellow jacket
Like oranges against the snow.
One for the road. Then, off to hound a hare,
My cab-driver friend who hates a cop, I,
Buggin’s brother and his boy, away we tear.
Our jalopy,
That technological marvel, goes bounding,
Scuttling along on its snow-chains. Tally-ho!
After a hare we go.
Or is it ourselves we’re hounding?
I’m all dressed up for the chase
In boots and jacket: the snow is ablaze.
But why, Yuri, why,
Do my gun-sights dance? Something is wrong, I know,
When a glassful of living blood has to fly
In terror across the snow.
The urge to kill, like the urge to beget,
Is blind and sinister. Its craving is set
To-day on the flesh of a hare: to-morrow it can
Howl the same way for the flesh of a man.
Out in the open the hare
Lay quivering there
Like the gray heart of an immense
Forest or the heart of silence:
Lay there, still breathing,
Its blue flanks heaving,
Its tormented eye a woe,
Blinking there on the cheek of the snow.
Then, suddenly, it got up,
Stood upright: suddenly,
Over the forest, over the dark river,
The air was shivered
By a human cry,
Pure, ultrasonic, wild
Like the cry of a child.
I knew that hares moan, but not like this:
This was the note of life, the wail
Of a woman in travail,
The cry of leafless copses
And bushes hitherto dumb,
The unearthly cry of a life
Which death was about to succumb,
Nature is all wonder, all silence:
Forest and lake and field and hill
Are permitted to listen and feel,
But denied utterance.
Alpha and Omega, the first and the last
Word of Life as it ebbs away fast,
As, escaping the snare, it flies
Up to the skies.
For a second only, but while
It lasted we were turned to stone
Like actors in a movie-still.
The boot of the running cab-driver hung in mid-air,
And four black pellets halted, it seemed,
Just short of their target:
Above the horizontal muscles,
The blood-clotted fur of the neck,
A face flashed out.
With slanting eyes set wide apart, a face
As in frescoes of Dionysus,
Staring at us in astonishment and anger,
It hovered there, made one with its cry,
Suspended in space,
The contorted transfigured face
Of an angel or a singer.
Like a long-legged archangel a golden mist
Swam through the forest.
“Shit!” spat the cabdriver,
“The little faking freak!”
A tear rolled down on the boy’s cheek.
Late at night we returned,
The wind scouring our faces: they burned
Like traffic lights as, without remark,
We hurtled through the dark.
(translated by W.H. Auden)


  1. Thanks for this post, Tatyana! I enjoyed both poems, but especially the second. The world is blessed to have the writings of this great poet.

  2. Thank you for introducing me to Voznesensky and his poetry. His poetry is full of lovely imagery, but I especially liked the sentiment of the first one. Perhaps poets should rule the world! Russia has lost a great artist.

  3. AnonymousJune 04, 2010

    Yes, I am not familiar with this poet's work, but what you've shared with us is beautiful. It is always so sad when an icon like that passes.

  4. AnonymousJune 04, 2010

    I've never heard of this poet, but his words are beautiful, as are your wonderful tribute and the lovely rose.

  5. Thank you, I too have come to meet this poet through you. Beautiful and powerful stuff.

  6. Beautiful T..a wonderful tribute!!

  7. What a wonderful tribute to a great poet. It is good that his work will always be remembered by his poems. It is good to see that those who may have been hidden because of old policies and politics are being seen. I watched a National Geographic show that was hosting Russia's different areas and all of the diverse nature that lived throughout. I was in awe at all the beauty that was in Russia. I lived in the time of Cold Wars and silence so we never heard much about the country's agriculture, regions and nature. I was fascinated.

  8. What beautiful poetry. Thank you for introducing me to his work. What a legacy he has left through his words.

    PS. Thank you for your kind comments.

  9. poet as hero.... a nice reminder of a job description no longer posted in a digital age.....

  10. I've always gotten the feeling that poetry matters in Russia in a way it hasn't here in the US for a very long time.


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