Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 05-21-2022, 02:05 PM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Posts: 219
Default Yevtushenko, “Our Mothers Leave Us”

Here’s a 1960 poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko—not my favorite poet, but some of his pieces, like this one, are irresistible. I didn’t bother with the stairstep lineation in the original and crib, but it’s the author’s own. Late for Mother’s Day, I’m afraid.


Our Mothers Leave Us
                                   For R. Pospelov

Our mothers leave us gradually behind.
They slip away on tiptoes
                                     imperceptibly,
while we, our bellies full,
                                    sleep unsuspectingly,
not sensing that the awful hour has chimed.
Our mothers don’t just leave all of a sudden.
                                                                 No,
it only seems to us a sudden passing.
Instead, they—strangely, gradually advancing—
descend the years like stairsteps as they go.
And then some year we nervously come to
and throw a noisy birthday celebration,
but this belated rite is no salvation
for their souls
                    or for ours; it just won’t do.
They trail away in columns,
                                        trailing endlessly.
We reach for them,
                            awaking with a start,
but find it’s only air we’re grasping helplessly.
A wall of glass is holding us apart!
We’re just too late.
                           The awful hour has chimed.
We watch them, and the tears well up inside of us,
as softly, gravely, trailing off in spite of us,
our mothers leave us gradually behind …


Уходят матери
                                   Р. Поспелову

Уходят наши матери от нас,
уходят потихонечку, на цыпочках,
а мы спокойно спим, едой насытившись,
не замечая этот страшный час.
Уходят матери от нас не сразу, нет —
нам это только кажется, что сразу.
Они уходят медленно и странно
шагами маленькими по ступеням лет.
Вдруг спохватившись нервно в кой-то год,
им отмечаем шумно дни рожденья,
но это запоздалое раденье
ни их, ни наши души не спасет.
Все удаляются они, все удаляются.
К ним тянемся, очнувшись ото сна,
но руки вдруг о воздух ударяются —
в нем выросла стеклянная стена!
Мы опоздали. Пробил страшный час.
Глядим мы со слезами потаенными,
как тихими суровыми колоннами
уходят наши матери от нас…


Literal translation:

Our Mothers Leave
                                   For R. Pospelov

Our mothers leave us;
they leave quietly/secretly, on tiptoe,
while we sleep peacefully, having eaten our fill,
not noticing the frightful hour.
Mothers don’t leave all of a sudden, no;
it only seems to us that it’s sudden.
They leave slowly and strangely,
taking small steps along the stairs of the years.
Suddenly, nervously coming to [realizing] some year,
we noisily mark their birthdays,
but this belated rejoicing
won’t save either their souls or ours.
They keep receding, keep receding.
We reach for them, having woken from sleep,
but our hands suddenly strike against air:
a glass wall has arisen in it [the air]!
We’re too late. The frightful hour has struck.
We watch with secret tears
as, in quiet, severe columns,
our mothers leave us …


The NYT printed a superb obituary of Yevtushenko five years ago: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/w...viet-poet.html

Edits
L6: party’s > rite is
L14: not noticing until the hour has chimed. > not sensing that the awful hour has chimed.

Last edited by Carl Copeland; 06-14-2022 at 09:08 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 05-21-2022, 03:40 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 6,512
Default

Hi Carl,

What a wonderful first line! The whole poem is already there, really, and then, it just needs to be unpacked. Your poem does that very effectively IMO, and there's not much I would suggest changing without a detailed study of the Russian, for which I am both too lazy and too incompetent. I will make one suggestion, however: it's that your off-rhyme advancing suggests the opposite of what you want (I glanced at the crib), in that it suggests she's moving toward, not away from, the child. What do you think of lapsing there? I think it can be got away with.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 05-21-2022, 06:13 PM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Posts: 219
Default

Thanks, John. So you understood “advancing” as “approaching.” I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, but if it’s what you thought, it could be a problem. I like “advancing” because it has a military connotation, and I have this pet theory that the columns of mothers trailing off are like the fathers who went off to war, leaving their families behind—something Yevtushenko was old enough to remember. I could be totally off base, though. “Lapse” would do fine for the rhyme, and I’ll consider it.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 05-21-2022, 06:31 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 6,512
Default

Hi Carl,

That's a good argument for advancing. And in fact, the poem's tight focus on mothers makes us wonder where the fathers are. As you say, maybe perished at the Front. I also see - I guess the poem makes this explicit - the mothers retreating at bedtime, a painful moment for many a child, to parallel the fact that they will, indeed, gradually retreat from our lives and eventually yield up their own mostly before us.
But yes, advancing to me suggests approaching. That could be too much French in my background, though, where it means just that, I can't say. Someone else should weigh in.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 05-22-2022, 03:16 AM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Posts: 219
Default

I’ve just realized that the word I hastily translated as “party” (“rejoicing” in the crib) is used for an ecstatic ritual practiced by certain Christian sects in Russia. That’s important, given the bit about saving souls. I can’t find an exact equivalent in English, but I’ve changed “party’s” to “rite is.” I think I like that.

Last edited by Carl Copeland; 05-24-2022 at 06:05 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 05-25-2022, 03:59 AM
Kevin Rainbow's Avatar
Kevin Rainbow Kevin Rainbow is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Regina, SK; Canada
Posts: 391
Default

I think you've captured this quite effectively too. I've come back a few times and it is difficult to find fault with much herein.

Quote:
не замечая этот страшный час.
not noticing until the hour has chimed.
I think "страшный" is too important to omit, and "until" seems to contradict the meaning of the line a bit. Maybe simply "not noticing what frightful hour has chimed"


Ideally "columns" would retain its position in the closing lines, but it's hard to see a good scheme for that, and your adjustment is very reasonable.

.

Last edited by Kevin Rainbow; 05-25-2022 at 04:24 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 05-25-2022, 07:23 AM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Posts: 219
Default

Good points, Kevin. “Until” shifts the “chiming” into the future, and perhaps I felt the bell shouldn’t chime yet so early in the poem, before the birthday party and all. But it isn’t a simple time sequence, is it? And the bell chimes while we’re asleep with our bellies full. You’re right about “страшный” too. I suppose I thought the repetition near the end (“awful”) was good enough, but it’s not really. Perhaps I’ll do it this way:

not sensing that the awful hour has chimed.

Thanks again for your sharp eye.

Carl
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 05-25-2022, 11:05 AM
John Riley John Riley is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 5,350
Default

I only want to say thanks for translating and posting these Russian poems. It's a treat.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 05-25-2022, 11:15 AM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Posts: 219
Default

My pleasure, John. I want to post a favorite of mine by Mayakovsky when I can get my act together, but I guess it’ll be in Musing on Mastery, since it’s not my translation (alas). Look for it.

Carl
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 05-28-2022, 06:30 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Iowa City, IA, USA
Posts: 9,525
Default

Carl, this is delightful. May I suggest "progressing" instead of "advancing"? It makes a closer slant rhyme.

Susan
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,261
Total Threads: 21,300
Total Posts: 269,092
There are 178 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online