Monday, July 06, 2015

White Night, White Dream - Polyxenia Solovyeva

Born in 1867, Polyxenia Solovyeva was the twelfth child of  the historian Sergei Solovyev, and the younger sister of the philosopher-poet Vladimir Solovyev. One of the first authors she became acquainted with as a child was Afanasy Fet--both literally and figuratively. She learned to read and write at an early age, and published poems under the pseudonym, "Allegro," but did not consider herself to be a particularly talented writer. Instead, she concentrated most of her efforts on painting, and on acting as the editor of a children's magazine; she also wrote children's books. She preferred the company of women.

She was forced to flee to the Crimea after Russian Revolution. She died in 1924, not long after being brought to Moscow by friends, in hopes of rescuing her from failing health.

An illustration by Polyxenia Solovyeva 

Her poems may not belong on the same podium as those of Blok and Fet, yet I find within them a certain undefinable quality, a delicate, haunting echo of an aftertaste of gilt, as if one had just unfolded a long-lost telegram from the Silver Age. (Apologies for a bit of a perfunctory translation after work...)

White Night

The earth does not sleep, it vainly awaits
The embrace of dusk and gentle silence;
Daylight* burns, embracing half the sky,                       * Zarya
Frightened dreams wander by in a crowd.

And everything thrives with some false life,
The eyes crave tranquility in vain,
As if a pale and anxious angel has
Stretched its white wings above the world.



Земля не спит, напрасно ожидая
Объятий сумрака и нежной тишины,
Горит заря, полнеба обнимая,
Бредут толпой испуганные сны.
И все живет какой-то жизнью ложной,
Успокоения напрасно жаждет взор,
Как будто ангел бледный и тревожный
Над миром крылья белые простер.


A recent photo from one of our White Nights

White Dream

Do you remember how, along the quiet river,
We strolled as children at an early hour,
I--with my fiery anguish,
You--with your white dream.

And everywhere my glance hesitated,
And everything you looked upon,
The world, a sparking flame, was set ablaze,
And there appeared white blossoms.

People came, were born, and died,
Their ways were too far-off for us,
We, bending over the bank, listened
To the quiet tales of the slow river.

If a darkness breathed above the water,
We fought against this evil shadow:
I--with my fiery anguish,
You--with your white dream.

And now, as the years pass us by,
A narrow path leads to the sunset,
Where immortal vaults await us,
Where eternity sings its song to us.

We, as of old, walk hand in hand,
An incomprehensible pair for most folk:
I--with my fiery anguish,
You--with your white dream.

--Polyxenia Solovyeva


Cerastium tomentosum (snow-in-summer)

Помнишь, мы над тихою рекою
В ранний час шли детскою четой,
Я — с моею огненной тоскою,
Ты — с твоею белою мечтой.

И везде, где взор мой замедлялся,
И везде, куда глядела ты,
Мир, огнем сверкая, загорался,
Вырастали белые цветы.

Люди шли, рождались, умирали,
Их пути нам были далеки,
Мы, склонясь над берегом, внимали
Тихим сказкам медленной реки.

Если тьма дышала над рекою,
Мы боролись с злою темнотой:
Я — с моею огненной тоскою,
Ты — с твоею белою мечтой.

И теперь, когда проходят годы,
Узкий путь к закату нас ведет,
Где нас ждут немеркнущие своды,
Где нам вечность песнь свою поет.

Мы, как встарь, идем рука с рукою
Для людей непонятой четой:
Я — с моею огненной тоскою,
Ты — с твоею белою мечтой.

--Поликсена Соловьева


bluestorm said...

I find a certain pastoral feel to her poetry ― calm, quieting my senses [ or "my fiery anguish"].
Thank you for sharing.

Iulia Flame said...

...bluestorm, you make a good point. There is an empathy in the writing, as if the writer were slipping the scenery on like a garment, that creates this "pastoral feel."

Thank you for noticing.

Harlequin said...

I was always taught that reading is the root of our learning, the downstream consequence being we know more than we did before – a nicely interesting piece

Iulia Flame said...

Your teachers must have been excellent ones. Sometimes I learn as much from further discussion as I do from my own reading, but without the reading in the first place, where would I be?

the song of a shell sapphire melting inside jade a color unnamed Ofra Haza's version of this song defies categoriz...

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