Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Poet of Conscience

Selected Poems 

Selected Poems

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold I know no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Maria Tsvetaeva

Weariness and beauty permeate the poetry of Maria Tsvetaeva. She struggled with life and love over the course of her short existence, but endured, supported in part by fellow artists, most notably Mandelstam, Rilke and Pasternak. The poetry in this selection is arrayed in chronological order and ranges from the "starry nights, in the apple orchards of Paradise"(p 5) to the "muffled blow" of Epitaph (p 106). 

Inspiration from fellow poets Mayakovsky, Blok and Akhmatova impress upon the reader her poetic muse and mystery. I like the poetry infused with literary references, Shakespeare and others, as this is a type that I share with her - in my own humble way. She has a way of making the simplest image seem to embody meaning beyond the possibilities of a finite world. She suggests this and more in lines like:

"a manifestly yellow, decidedly
rusty leaf--has been left behind on the tree." (p 120)

Her poetry exhibits an aesthetic beauty that transcends my ability to describe the feelings it embodies.  Along with Pasternak, Mandelstam, and Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva stands as one of the four great Russian poets of the Twentieth Century and is one of the most important Women writers in the Western Canon.

Here is an example:

Little World 

Children - are staring of eyes so frightful, 
Mischievous legs on a wooden floor, 
Children - is sun in the gloomy motives, 
Hypotheses' of happy sciences world. 

Eternal disorder in the ring's gold, 
Tender word's whispers in semi-sleep, 
On the wall in a cozy child's room, the dreaming 
Peaceful pictures of birds and sheep. 

Children - is evening, evening on the couch, 
In the fog, through the window, glimmer street lamps, 
A measured voice of the tale of King Saltan, 
Mermaid-sisters of seas from tales. 

Children - is rest, brief moment of respite, 
A trembling vow before God's eyes, 
Children - are the world's tender riddles, 

Where in the riddle the answer hides!


Brian Joseph said...

Thanks for post this verse. I have never read Maria Tsvetaeva. Based upon on what you posted I should have given her work a try a while ago. I also like poetry that contains literary refrerences. However, that presents the challenge of actually recognizing them.

James said...

This is great poetry that is evocative of Marina's personal life. It also reflects the culture and times in which she persevered.