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Collection of poems by Sergey Esenin

It was morning, and in the rye-bin,
Where the rows of gold mats were spread,
A dog littered seven puppies,
Seven puppies, brownish-red.

She fondled them until evening
And combed them smooth with her tongue,
While the light snow melted beneath her
Where her warm belly hung.

But when night came and the chickens
Were speckling their roosting rack,
Out came her grim-faced owner
And put all seven in a sack.

She went running over the snowdrifts,
Trying to match his pace...
And for a long, long time shudders
Shook the unfrozen water’s smooth face.

When she wearily dragged her feet back,
Licking the wet from her side,
She thought the moon over the cottage
Was one of her pups that had died.

And gazing high, whining loudly,
She stared at the blue sky until
The thin moon slid on and vanished
In the fields behind the hill.

And, softly, as if someone, while jesting.
Had thrown her a stone — even so
Tears now rolled down from her dog-ejes
Like golden stars into the snow.

- translated by Merrill Sparks and Vladimir Markov

Oh, what a night! I cannot sleep.
Unsettled by this blazing moonness.
As if I reverently keep
Within my soul the wasted youth ways.

Oh, lover of the tepid days,
Do not take dalliance for feelings,
But let these lucid moonlight rays
Rain streaming down on my pillow.

Allow them to highlight enough
My writhen features, wry and garish,
For you can’t possibly unlove
The likeness you have never cherished.

True love transpires only once,
And just for this you seem so distant,
As linden trees are calling us
While sinking legs in snowy vistas.

I know this well and so do you,
That in this blue moonlight on lindens
We will not find any blooms
Inside the frosted snowy Eden.

We loved so many years ago,
You loved not me, I loved the other,
And we indifferently swore
To swift romance of easy lovers.

Yet still embrace, caress and kiss
With playful hedonism of passion,
Allow May invade my dreams
And usher in the one I treasure. 

- translated by Dina Belyayeva

Don't fall, my little star, keep shining,
Keep dropping chilly beams of light.
There is no living heart abiding
Up there beyond the grave-yard site.

And from you beam you bring us summer
And fill the fields with rye and hay
And with a thrilling wistful clamour
Of cranes that haven't flown away.

I raise my head and I can hear
Beyond the wood across the hill
A lovely song about the near
And dear homeland, such a thrill!

The autumn, turning gold, appears
To squeeze the juice from trees and plants;
It's shedding pensive leaves of tears
For the beloved and loving ones.

I know, I know, the time is near,
Through no one's fault, with no offence,
I, too, will rest in peace right here
Bneath the mournful little fence.

The tender flame will soon die out,
My heart will turn to dust, for worse,
My fiends will put a stone, no doubt.
With words of merriment, in verse.

But, feeling grief and seeing proper,
I'd put it in the following way:
He loved his homeland like a toper
Adors a bar and a buffet.

- translated by Alec Vagapov

I’m sick, my friend,
I’m very, very sick.
Can’t put my finger on the origin of this pain.
Either the wind whistles
Over an empty, deserted field,
Or alcohol rains on my brain
Like it's a September grove.

My head flaps its ears
Like wings of a bird,
No longer capable of
Holding itself up on my neck.
A dark man,
Dark, dark,
Dark man
Sits down on my bed,
A dark man
Won’t let me sleep at all tonight.

The dark man
Traces his finger over a loathsome book
And, droning above me
Like a monk over a dead body,
Reads to me the life
Of some profligate scoundrel,
As fear and anguish surge.
Dark, a dark
Man, dark...

 

- exert translated by Anton Yakovlev

Little house with light blue shutters,
I will never forget you, no way!
All these years that have gone with the shadows
Seemed so recent and not far away.

Up to now I've been dreaming about
Our fields, woods and clouds on high
Under cover of grey cotton shroud
Of this poor oldnorthern sky.

Though I cannot admire, however,
I don't want to get lost at all.
I suppose, I've got now and for ever
Dismal warmth of the Russian soul.

I am fond of the silver cranes
Flying over I don't know where,
For they haven't seen in these plains
Ample harvest of grain, as it were.

They have seen the blossom of trees,
Brittle willows, all curved and bare,
They have heard the whistles of thieves
That arouse such terrible scare.

So I cannot help caring about
You, my land, and it's quite unconscious.
Under cover of cheap cotton shroud
I adore you with deepest emotions.

Thus appearing like recent shadows
Bygone years, they still hover to-day...
Little house with light blue shutters,
I will never forget you, no way!

- translated by Alec Vagapov

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