Contemporary Russian Poetry


"The book is a credit to the press, a boon to everyone interested in Russian culture, and an important resource for teachers and students of Russian literature." —Library Journal

"... a solid and conscientious piece of work, informed by discerning taste and learning." —Times Literary Supplement

"Smith’s collection of contemporary Russian poetry should be useful to anyone with a serious interest in work produced during recent years both by poets living in the U.S.S.R. and by prominent Third Wave emigrés.... The introductory and biographical

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"The book is a credit to the press, a boon to everyone interested in Russian culture, and an important resource for teachers and students of Russian literature." —Library Journal

"... a solid and conscientious piece of work, informed by discerning taste and learning." —Times Literary Supplement

"Smith’s collection of contemporary Russian poetry should be useful to anyone with a serious interest in work produced during recent years both by poets living in the U.S.S.R. and by prominent Third Wave emigrés.... The introductory and biographical materials are excellent."—Publishers Weekly

The work of twenty-three poets, living in Russia and abroad and writing during the period since 1975, is highlighted in this dual-language anthology. The book features an extraordinary cohort of talented poets, including Joseph Brodsky, Evgenii Rein, and Bella Akhmadulina. Notes, biographical sketches, a detailed bibliography, and an informative introduction make this an indispensable resource for teachers, students, and readers of modern Russian literature.

Indiana University Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253207692
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1993
  • Pages: 392
  • Sales rank: 1,490,891
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

GERALD S. SMITH is Professor of Russian at the University of Oxford and Fellow of New College, Oxford. He is author of Songs to Seven Strings: Russian Guitar Poetry and Soviet "Mass Song," co-editor (with A. G. Cross) of Russian Literature in the Eighteenth Century, and translator of Alexander Galich, Songs and Poems.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Recent Russian Poetry
Note on the Texts, Translations, and Annotations

Boris Slutsky
1. "Any Beginning is the beginning of the end"
2. "Bad times are good because"
3. The cocked-arm gesture of the philosophical lyric..."
4. Forgiveness
5. "Real people have children..."
6. Family Quarrel
7. "Husbands with their doings and nerves"
8. "People don’t laugh at funerals’

Boris Chichibabin
9. Confession
10. "I don’t believe that the Russians"
11. "Take this tiredness from me, mother Death"
12. "To thee, my Russia, not to God..."
13. "May God grant you from roots to crown"
14. The Battle
15. "Flowers lay on the snow"

Bulat Okudzhava
16. "The music of the soul is ever fainter"
17. "No matter how they insulted our courtyard..."
18. "The roman empire in its period of decline"
19. "The poet has no rivals"
20. "Let’s dream up a despot"
21. The Omen
22. Letter to My Mom
23. "When a speech begins..."
24. "My son seems to be finding seclusion hard to take"

Vladimir Kornilov
25. Music for Oneself
26. Forty Years On
27. A Russian Paradise
28. Godlessness
29. Freedom
30. Young Poetry
31. Rhyme
32. Two Genres
33. An Argument
34. "Because nobody cares"

German Plisetsky
35. The Handicraftsmen
36. "I dreamed of a city open to the springtime"
37. The Philharmonic
38. Quiet Hour
39. "Don’t be jealous of my words"
40. "We fell asleep, embracing each other"
41. "I was awoken by thundering noise on the roof"
42. Still Life
43. "To stand in line from early morning for Ogonek"
44. Sonnet

Evgenii Rein
45. The monastery
46. My Neighbor Grigoriev
47. The Tomcat by the Quay in Leningrad Harbor
48. In the Margins of a Book by V. Khodasevich
49. Dedicated to the Metro Stations Kirovskaya (Radial Line) and Park of Culture and Rest (circle Line)
50. "The Night Watch"
51. Beneath the Coats of Arms
52. Just before Easter

Dmitrii Bobyshev
53. "Mommy, this is your son writing to you"
54. The Fullness of Everything
55. "There surely must be such places"
56. A Wake for the Living, 1
57. Urbana Life, 3
58. The Beasts of St. Antony. A Bestiary

Natalya Gorbanevskaya
59. "Here it is, la vie quotidienne"
60. "O my poor, senile, fallen into childhood"
61. "not to sing out—to lisp out..."
62. "...where rivers flow purer than silver"
63. It was the year of evil predictions"
64. "I pronounce the learned-by-heart refrain"
65. "This is sung at dawn"
66. Contribution to a Discussion of Statistics
67. "And, having started singing this melody"

Aleksandr Kushner
68. Memories
69. "History teaches us nothing"
70. "If I’d been born about seven years earlier..."
71. "This may be the atomic age, but..."
72. "In verse, meaning sparkles..."
73. "Like a child that’s started to get really naughty"
74. "We used to write happy poems"
75. "Light flows. Water wanders in the darkness"
76. "Nothing brings us closer to death"

Bella Akhmadulina
77. "I find enviable the age-old habit"
78. The Night of Falling Apples
79. The Butterfly
80. Pashka
81. "Sunday came. I wasn’t sad at all"
82 Dressing the Child

Yunna Morits

83. "Eternally to be waiting for bloody news"
84. Between Scylla and Charybdis
85. "I never drank vodka with geniuses"
86. "July of ‘80. In moscow"
87. Over the Mortal Body, Over the Immortal Ideal
88. On the Edge of Breathing Out and Breathing In
89. "Poetry is alive through freedom and love"
90. "... and young savages will come..."
91. "Stuffy avenues covered in dust"
92. "When all of ours slaughter all of theirs"
93. "The floating anguish of pre-life darkness’

Lev Loseff
94. "I understand—yoke, starvation..."
95. "...I used to work on the Campfire..."
96. A Journey. 4. At a Watchmaker’s in Geneva
97. Stanzas
98. "Grammar is the god of mind"
99. One Day in the Life of Lev Vladimirovich
100. "The poet is humus, within him dead words"
101. Amateur Theatricals
102. The Twelve Colleges. An Elegy in Three Parts

Oleg Chukhontsev
102. "This wooden town on the river"
104. The Double
105. About That Land
106. "Here’s a little village on the edge of a ravine"
107. "By corroded snow crust, by melted star"

Joseph Brodsky
108. Fifth Anniversary (4 June 1977)
109. York
110. "You, guitar-shaped thing..."
111. "I have entered a cage in place of a wild beast"
112. "I was only that which/you touched..."
113. "How long I’ve been tapping around..."
114. To Urania
115. "Summer will end. September will begin..."
116. "Only ashes know what it means to be burned out"
117. "My dear, I left the house today..."

Dmitrii Prigov
118. "I’m tired already on the first line"
119. "When here on duty stands a Pliceman"
120. "In the buffet of the House of Writers"
121. "The people after all doesn’t only drink"
122. "An eagle flies over the earth"
123. "It’s well known that you can live with many women..."
124. "When I once happened to be in Kaluga"
125. "Here’s me, an ordinary poet let’s assume"
126. "When I think about poetry..."
127. "God’s wisdom before the face of God"
128. A Banal Disquisiton...
129. "A woman in the subway kicked me"
130. "We’ve known since ancient times"
131. "A raven-bird hangs in the sky"
132. Study
133. "The usurious rakes of the maples"
134. "Don’t rush to abdicate—we’ll be consoled"
135. "The fate of verse is world-sovereign"
136. "Under wan, meager snow"
137. "Before what Ivans, Birons,/and Stenkas..."

Aleksei Tsvetkov
138. "On a bench by the edge of the park"
139. "Fate plays with man"
140. "turn on the hydrant and the water’s hard"
141. "(making no claim to profundity of intellect"
142. "an object of study is nature"
143. "the chimes at the zenith were forging the ages"
144. "here’s the old fellow advocate of the mussels"
145 "down in a gulch a whistle-stop..."

Elena Shvarts
146. The Invisible Hunter
147. Memory of a Strange Refreshment
148. "I would take out my delicate rib"
149. "Once again father interfered, exhorting"
150. Circumcision of the Heart
151. The Raven
152. "I dreamed we were sailing through rice fields"
153. "When hungry demons came chasing after me"

Ivan Zhdanov
154. Portrait of My Father
155. Lines Written in the Sand, 2
156. The Storm
157. The Prophet
158. "A region of unexchangeable possession"
159. The Conquest of the Elements, 4

Olga Sedakova
160. The Unfaithful Wife
161. Old Women
162. "Surely, Maria, it’s not just the frames creaking"
163. The Grasshopper and the Cricket
164. "In the desert of life...What am I saying"
165. On the Death of Leonid Gubanov
166. Seven Poems, 2
167. Coda

Bakhyt Kenzheev
168. "It’s over, gone dark, burned out"
169. "Confucius argued that music should be"
170. "in russia there’s melancholy weather"
171. "In Peredelkino the forest has lost its leaves"
172. "Everything in the world goes out of fashion..."
173. "Empty streets, deep spaces under doors"
174. "Excitement, moustaches, half-masks..."

Aleksandr Eremenko
175. Peredelkino
176. Monument
177. Lines on Prohibition, Dedicated to the Sverdlovsk Rock Club
178. An Addendum to Sopromat
179. "Long live the old maid"

Aleksei Parshchikov
180. "Snail or silkworm"
181. Peter
182. Autostop in the Mountains
183. "I released you like a blinding wolf"
184. Lions
185. When
186. "O garden of my friends, where I hang out..."

Notes on the Poets and the Poems
Sources of the Texts
Suggestions for Further Reading
Index of Russian Titles and First Lines
Index of English Titles and First Lines

Indiana University Press

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