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Cinema, English

Life, Life : Arseny Tarkovsky poems

1

I don’t believe in omens or fear
Forebodings. I flee from neither slander
Nor from poison. Death does not exist.
Everyone’s immortal. Everything is too.
No point in fearing death at seventeen,
Or seventy. There’s only here and now, and light;
Neither death, nor darkness, exists.
We’re all already on the seashore;
I’m one of those who’ll be hauling in the nets
When a shoal of immortality swims by.

2

If you live in a house – the house will not fall.
I’ll summon any of the centuries,
Then enter one and build a house in it.
That’s why your children and your wives
Sit with me at one table, –
The same for ancestor and grandson:
The future is being accomplished now,
If I raise my hand a little,
All five beams of light will stay with you.
Each day I used my collar bones
For shoring up the past, as though with timber,
I measured time with geodetic chains
And marched across it, as though it were the Urals.

3

I tailored the age to fit me.
We walked to the south, raising dust above the steppe;
The tall weeds fumed; the grasshopper danced,
Touching its antenna to the horse-shoes – and it prophesied,
Threatening me with destruction, like a monk.
I strapped my fate to the saddle;
And even now, in these coming times,
I stand up in the stirrups like a child.

I’m satisfied with deathlessness,
For my blood to flow from age to age.
Yet for a corner whose warmth I could rely on
I’d willingly have given all my life,
Whenever her flying needle
Tugged me, like a thread, around the globe.

First Meetings

We celebrated every moment
Of our meetings as epiphanies,
Just we two in all the world.
Bolder, lighter than a bird’s wing,
You hurtled like vertigo
Down the stairs, leading
Through moist lilac to your realm
Beyond the mirror.

When night fell, grace was given me,
The sanctuary gates were opened,
Shining in the darkness
Nakedness bowed slowly;
Waking up, I said:
‘God bless you!’, knowing it
To be daring: you slept,
The lilac leaned towards you from the table
To touch your eyelids with its universal blue,
Those eyelids brushed with blue
Were peaceful, and your hand was warm.

And in the crystal I saw pulsing rivers,
Smoke-wreathed hills, and glimmering seas;
Holding in your palm that crystal sphere,
You slumbered on the throne,
And – God be praised! – you belonged to me.
Awaking, you transformed
The humdrum dictionary of humans
Till speech was full and running over
With resounding strength, and the word you
Revealed its new meaning: it meant king.
Everything in the world was different,
Even the simplest things – the jug, the basin –
When stratified and solid water
Stood between us, like a guard.

We were led to who knows where.
Before us opened up, in mirage,
Towns constructed out of wonder,
Mint leaves spread themselves beneath our feet,
Birds came on the journey with us,
Fish leapt in greeting from the river,
And the sky unfurled above…

While behind us all the time went fate,
A madman brandishing a razor.

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