Tuesday, October 07, 2008

'Life, Life': Arseniy Tarkovsky

Life, Life.

  1. I don’t believe forbodings, nor do omens

Frighten me. I do not run from slander

Nor from poison. On earth there is no death.

All are immortal. All is immortal. No need

To be afraid of death at seventeen

Nor yet at seventy. Reality and light

Exist, but neither death nor darkness.

All of us are on the sea-shore now,

And I am one of those who haul the nets

When a shoal of immortality comes in.

  1. Live in the house – and the house will stand.

I will call up any century,

Go into it and build myself a house.

That is why your children are beside me

And your wives, all seated at one table,

One table for great-grandfather and grandson.

The future is accomplished here and now,

And if I slightly raise my hand before you,

You will be left with all five beams of light.

With shoulder blades like timber props

I held up every day that made the past,

With a surveyor’s chain I measured time

And traveled through as if across the Urals.

  1. I picked an age whose stature measured mine.

We headed south, mad dust swirl on the steppe.

Tall weeds were rank; a grasshopper was playing,

Brushed horseshoes with his whiskers, prophesied,

And told me like a monk that I would perish.

I took my fate and strapped it to my saddle;

And I’ve reached the future till I stand

Upright in my stirrups like a boy.

I only need my immortality

For my blood to go on flowing from age to age.

I would readily pay with my life

For a safe place with constant warmth

Were it not that life’s flying needle

Leads me on through the world like a thread.

Arseniy Tarkovsky, Translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair

I have no idea why the first lines of each section are the way they are.

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