Two Poems

Georgy Ivanov

A Quarter Century Has Passed . . .

"We shall meet again in Petersburg,
as though we had buried the sun there." - O Mandelshtam

A quarter century has passed abroad
and hope has become a joke.
The radiant starscape above Nice
is permanently my native sky.

The stillness of the blissful South,
the murmur of waves, the golden wine . . .

But a Petersburg blizzard is singing
in the snow-plastered window,
that the prophecy of a dead friend

will surely come to pass.

How fussy . . .

"They have given you an incomprehensible name.
You are unconscious;
or — more preciously — your name is
potassium cyanide."   - G Adamovich

How fussy you once were,
My friends!
You didn't drink vodka, didn't like it.
You preferred Côte de Nuits.

Our bread now — potassium cyanide.
Mercuric chloride — our water.
Well, we've gotten used to this,
and haven't totally lost it.

Quite the contrary — in a senseless
                                     and evil
World — we resist evil,
Tenderly circling in a dead man's waltz at the émigré ball.

translated from the Russian by Harry Leeds