Four Poems

Marina Tsvetaeva

Praise to the Rich

And after this, having established first,
that between you and me—are miles!
That I count myself among the ragged,
that my place in the world is honest:

under the wheels of excess:
at the table of freaks, cripples, humpbacks:
after this, from a bell tower,
I declare: I love the rich!

For their root, rotten and shaky
from a cradle-raising wound,
for the confused habit that they have
of reaching in and out of their pockets;

for how the quietest request of their lips
is obeyed as though it were shouted,
for the fact that they won’t be let into Paradise
and that their eyes don’t look.

For their secrets—always with the courier!
For their passions—with the deliveryman!
For the nights imposed on them,
(and they kiss and drink violently!)

And for how, in their accounts, in their boredom,
in their gilding, their yawning, their cotton,
I, here, insolent—they will not buy,
I confirm: I love the rich!

And yet, in spite of being shaven,
and well-fed, and fed again (I blink, and it’s gone!)
for some reason—their sudden bruising,
for some reason—that doggy look,

doubting . . .
                        —might they not at the core
be zeros? Might not the weights play pranks?
And for the fact, that among all rejections,
there’s no such—orphan-hood in the world!

There is also such a bad fable:
about camels climbing through needles.
. . . For their gaze, amazed at death,
apologetic for disease,

as they are for bankruptcy . . . “I would have lent, I would be glad—
yes” . . .
            For how, silent, from clamped lips:

“I counted carats, I—I was one of you” . . .
I swear: I love the rich!

September 30, 1922


And God be with you!
Go in flocks, flocks
without dreams, without thoughts of your own
after Hitler or Stalin

Display on your sprawled bodies
star or Swastika hooks.

June 23, 1934


There is an hour for those words.
Through muffled sound
the highest rights
tap life.

Maybe—in a shoulder,
braced by a forehead.
Maybe—in a ray of light
invisible by day.

In a futile trail
of ashes—a wave on a sheet.
Tribute to one’s fear,
and to one’s ashes.

Hour—of hot self-righteousness,
and of the quietest requests.
Hour of landless brotherhoods.
Hour of world orphans.

June 11, 1922

To Moscow


Inheritance—to the orphanage!
I will not.
Great, your corpulence:
I renounce.

As I look at my neighbors in the distance—
I renounce.
As I trample down your cobblestones—
I renounce.


As in the seventeenth year,
righteous in white,
I stood smirking
under fire.

As in the eighteenth year,
—With what?— a trace of rust,
I looked for all the sons
on the outposts.

Here—some of the bayonets—
I will not!—
For your short memory,
I renounce.

Dorogomilovo, Rogozhskaya,
the rest . . .
widely you have made
your liturgy known.

And the rank and file, side by side
on the main square
in rag-shreds,
consoled, with laurels . . .
Sweep together, blizzard, sawdust,
the snow is pure.
Bow, heads, to the graves
of the rebellious.

(Also, the righteous were,
were—not some foreign value!)
These falsehoods, red wounds
to the righteous . . .


The old, the former, to the dump!
Now, hello!
And in the blood, on the recent dead—
dance and caviar.

It is for those, for all those brothers
—I will not!—
Forgive me, Iberian Mother!
I renounce.

January 12, 1922


More than a woman
at the hour of a meeting!
red rags,
slashed blood—

Here they are, close steel cohort,
pinned to the Kremlin wall,
in a row.

Laurel—instead of stone
and the Kremlin—rail.
You don’t need
God’s banner.

They weren’t honored, “With the Saints.”
They didn’t rest with the Saints.

As over the Sacred Heart
the body—keeps guard.
I gnaw my own hands—for even

Anger.—“Come inside! This, over their own?!”
For this first criminal connection
the hour

From the tower—which one?—I stand, and think.
That on such an earth,
I step,
I have grown.

I won’t come away! (“Cut off the hands!”)
More than a woman
at the hour of parting

the hour

Under another rebel’s laurel
my secret passion.

My anger is obvious—

January 13, 1922

translated from the Russian by Margaree Little