Friday, April 28, 2006

Reading. Tsvetaeva.

I had read a lot of Russian poetry during a time when I spoke Russian, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, and later, Yevtushenko (all of this seems to belong to another, distant life), but strangely I had never read anything by Marina Tsvetaeva. I had been looking for something else (as so often happens), and came across a slim volume of selected poems. The cover has a photograph of the poet; intense eyes gazing straight at you, through you, from beneath black, uncompromising bangs cut straight across just above those dark wings of eyebrows. A long, straight nose, rouged lips, pale skin. Her poetry, her words are as starkly beautiful as her face. Love, parting, poetry, all matters of life, bloom on the page like dark flowers, intoxicating and enticing and terrifying all at once.

It feels strange to read poetry in translation; I always feel like something is lost. What I love most about poetry is how words and language and passion and ideas merge, collide, intertwine like the seperate melodies of a Bach sinfonia that come together, distinct yet inseperable. I feel I need to go back and read Tsvetaeva in her original Russian, because part of what I love about Russian poetry is the language itself. The letters, the sound each word makes in my mouth, the weight of it.

Either love is
--A shrine?
or else a scar.

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