Thursday, April 10, 2014

Vladislav Khodasevich - Through the Window (Read by Sergei Vinogradov, and Orpheus/Ballada--tr. Nabokov)

Sharing a bit of his particular version of madness, around 20 of Vladislav Khodasevich's poems are read by Sergei Vinogradov in this dramatic sampling, which begins,

"Entering into my house, bring your dreams,
or a devilish beauty, or God, if you are godly,
but your petty decencies--leave them, like a hat
in the entrance hall."

An article on Khodasevich can be found here (scroll down to Khodasevich: The Poet Dissolving in Acid.) I found an excellent article on the semantics of Khodasevich as well.

A great translation of a poem of Khodasevich's into English, "Look for Me," was published recently by The Guardian.

One of my favorite renderings into English is a poem of Khodasevich's translated (and for all practical purposes re-written) by Vladimir Nabokov, who was particularly fond of the poet, an early mentor of his:

Orpheus (Ballada was the original title)

Brightly lit from above I am sitting
in my circular room; this is I--
looking up at a sky made of stucco,
at a sixty-watt sun in that sky.
All around me, and also lit brightly,
all around me my furniture stands,
chair and table and bed--and I wonder
sitting there what to do with my hands.
Frost-engendered white feathery palmtrees
on the window-panes silently bloom;
loud and quick clicks the watch in my pocket
as I sit in my circular room.
Oh, the leaden, the beggarly bareness
of a life where no issue I see!
Whom on earth could I tell how I pity,
my own self and the things around me?
And then clasping my knees I start slowly,
to sway backwards and forwards, and soon
I am speaking in verse, I am crooning
to myself as I sway in a swoon.
What a vague, what a passionate murmur
lacking any intelligent plan;
but a sound may be truer than reason
and a word may be stronger than man.
And then melody, melody, melody
blends my accents and joins in their quest
and a delicate, delicate, delicate
pointed blade seems to enter my breast.
High above my own spirit I tower,
high above mortal matter I grow:
subterranean flames lick my ankles,
past my brow the cool galaxies flow.
With big eyes-as my singing grows wilder--
with the eyes of a serpent maybe,
I keep watching the helpless expression
of the poor things that listen to me.
And the room and the furniture slowly,
slowly start in a circle to sail,
and a great heavy lyre is from nowhere
handed me by a ghost through the gale.
And the sixty-watt sun has now vanished,
and away the false heavens are blown:
on the smoothness of glossy black boulders
this is Orpheus standing alone.

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