Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Pure Essence of Poetry

My Sister - Life (European Poetry Classics)

My Sister - Life 
by Boris Pasternak


It's a tightly filled whistle,
it's the squeaking of jostled ice,
it's night, frosting the leaves,
it's two nightingales duelling.

It's the soundlessness of sweetpeas,
the tears of the universe in a pod.
It's a Figaro from music-stands and flutes
like hail on garden plots.

And all that the night finds hard to find
on the sunken floors of bathhouses
is carried to the fish pond
like a star on damp, trembling palms.

It's mugginess flatter than sunken boards,
alders banked over the horizon.
The laughter of the stars is welcome
in this universe--soundless place.

BREATHTAKING poems of ethereal light and being inhabit this collection from Boris Pasternak. Osip Mandelstam said, "To read the poems of Pasternak is to get one's throat clear , to fortify one's breathing. . . I see Pasternak's My Sister--Life as a collection of magnificent exercises in breathing . . . a cure for tuberculosis." These poems are enchanting; the product of the early life of Pasternak. There is a clarity in the translations of Mark Rudman with Bohdan Boychuk that allow Pasternak's "breathing" which I sense as almost a sort of singing voice to pierce through the boundary between languages. The result is the poet's voice is present in its most passionate form thrilling the reader with images of love and loss; foreshadowing the changes that would soon engulf the world of his family, friends, and fellow citizens as the Great War would end and bring with it the upheavals in the political world of the Russian Empire. This is a beautiful collection of poems that provides a counterweight to the more familiar Pasternak of Doctor Zhivago and his other later work.

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