Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wladyslaw Szpilman - Chopin Nocturne No. 20

Light - like strings of golden beads,
The taste of a night-leaf on the lips.
Free us from our daily stresses,
Friends, know this: I inhabit your dreams.

--Marina Tsvetaeva

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer Garden - Anna Akhmatova

Summer Garden

I only wish to see the roses in that garden
Where the best of the walls in the world rise up,

Where the statues remember me young,
And I remember them, near the waters of the Neva.

In the fragrant silence between the royal lindens,
I imagine the creaking of a ship's masts.

And a swan, as before, floats through the ages,
Admiring the beauty of his double.

The dead steps of hundreds of thousands sleep,
Of enemies and friends; of friends and enemies.

A procession of shadows with no end in sight,
From the vases of granite to the door of the palace.

There they whisper, my white nights
About someone's high and secret love.

And all is lit with mother-of-pearl and jasper,
But the source of light is mysteriously hidden.

--Anna Akhmatova

Летний сад

Я к розам хочу, в тот единственный сад,
Где лучшая в мире стоит из оград,

Где статуи помнят меня молодой,
А я их под невскою помню водой.

В душистой тиши между царственных лип
Мне мачт корабельных мерещится скрип.

И лебедь, как прежде, плывет сквозь века,
Любуясь красой своего двойника.

И замертво спят сотни тысяч шагов
Врагов и друзей, друзей и врагов.

А шествию теней не видно конца
От вазы гранитной до двери дворца.

Там шепчутся белые ночи мои
О чьей-то высокой и тайной любви.

И все перламутром и яшмой горит,
Но света источник таинственно скрыт.

--Анна Ахматова

Friday, May 20, 2016


...under the greenwood tree ... come hither ....

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

As the light of Spring leaks into my dreams,
I gather the shadows of winters past
under the black wool coat on my shoulders,
a shelter for shy mirrors of moonlight.

A mountain, up close, is not how you imagined.
Its profile alters inexplicably with each step.
Just above the rocky cliffs, a gray ribbon,
a lone eagle, flickering in the wind.

Never had I been seized by the charms of Egypt,
aside from a passing fancy for hieroglyphs,
yet now a pyramid shimmers in stippled carpet,
and Anubis lurks in the paisley of my quilt.

Though I plunk along on an untuned piano,
the ghost of Schubert appears, undeterred.
I am alone, I declare. But I overhear the murmurs
of Ivan and Alyosha among the sticky leaves.


Friday, April 29, 2016

O most noble Greenness

The buds of a May-Day Tree (known as a "bird cherry" or черемуха in Slavic countries)

O most noble Greenness, rooted in the sun,
shining forth in streaming splendor upon the wheel of Earth.
No earthly sense or being can comprehend you.
You are encircled by the very arms of Divine mysteries.
You are radiant like the red of dawn!
You glow like the incandescence of the sun!

--Hildegard of Bingen

Saturday, April 09, 2016


A dried flower, unscented,
Forgotten, in a book I see,
And already my soul
is filled with a strange dream.

--A.S. Pushkin

Цветок засохший, безуханный,
Забытый в книге вижу я;
И вот уже мечтою странной
Душа наполнилась моя.

А.С. Пушкин

Last night, I dreamed I rode a bicycle with two small children wedged in between myself and the handlebars. When I parked the bicycle, I found that I had arrived in one of Moscow's central city squares, near a metro station, where many street vendors were plying their wares. I approached a woman selling currant buns, thinking to buy some for the children, but when I opened up my wallet, all I could find were Chinese coins. I laughed awkwardly, and apologized to her. What struck me most about this dream was a rushing sense of exhilaration, the fact that the energy of the very cobblestones greeted me warmly. (On a side-note, it is difficult for me to spend a long period of time in most cities. There must be some aspect peculiar to the ancient ones, which allows my nervous system to relax in the midst of the bustle.) Perhaps just a silly dream, but it caused me to wonder, yet again, who I am, and what am I all about.

I found an unusual recording of the Vaganova ballet school, which performs a very old-fashioned version of the Awakening of Flora here:

The willow-catkins and I eagerly await the arrival of Flora to the North.

Where did it flower? When, in which spring?
Did it flower long? And was it plucked by whom,
A stranger or an acquainted hand?
And why was it placed in here?

--A.S. Pushkin

Где цвел? когда? какой весною?
И долго ль цвел? и сорван кем,
Чужой, знакомой ли рукою?
И положен сюда зачем?

А.С. Пушкин

Monday, April 04, 2016



These four walls compose the grace of still life:
a boy nuzzling a gray tabby cat,
a chair, favorite books, a piano,
the translucent leaf of an angel-wing begonia.

They do not account for the flighty senses
that swoop from skin to branch to sky like larks,
nor do they speak of the wildest delights,
those un-fathomed as the call of the sea.