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Thursday, June 3, 2010

You’re Here

(The Great Gate of Kiev by Wassily Kandinsky, 1866-
1944, Russian painter)

Sometimes a poet will choose an unusual metaphor for his beloved, as does Boris Pasternak in this poem. He took a risk. Who wants to be compared to a city? Even if it’s a beautiful ancient one like Kiev on the river Dnieper. Even if it’s “wrapped in sultry sunbeams.”

And there lies the romance. The city is alive. It’s not a perfect place but he’s prepared to spend his days there with his beloved.


You’re here. We breathe the self same air.
Your presence here is like the city,
like quiet Kiev wrapped in sultry
sunbeams there outside the window.

It hasn’t slept its sleep yet,
but struggles in its dream, unconquered.
It tears the bricks from off its neck
like a sweaty Shantung collar.

In it, perspiring in their leaves
from obstacles they’ve just got over,
the poplars gather in a crowd
wearily on the conquered pavement.

You make me think of the Dnieper there,
in its green skin of creeks and ditches,
the center-of-the-earth’s complaint book
for us to write our daily notes in.

Your presence here is like a call
to sit down hastily at midday,
to read through it from A to Z
and then to write your nearness in it.

~ Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Russian poet, translator and writer of the novel Dr. Zhivago

1 comment:

Barbara Sulllivan Mangogna said...

Wow! What a romantic! Has the flavor of the book. What fun to read one of his poems. Thank you. Barbara