Speaking In Tongues
Scribbling In Voices

Aleksandr Blok

 Translated by Alex Sitnitsky


* * *

The night, the street, the drugstore, water.
The lantern’s light is senseless, fake.
Your life will last another quarter
Of dismal age, with no escape.
Then you will die and start again. All
What was before — all will repeat;
The night, the ripple of ice-cold canal,
The lantern, the drugstore, the street.

* * *

A maiden was singing in a church, in a chorus
About all tired in an alien land
About all ships in the sea and all rovers
Who almost forgot what it is — to be glad.
And, touching her shoulder, the beam was glistening.
Her voice flew up to the dome. And, redeemed,
Everyone there was watching and listening
To the singing white dress in the slender sunbeam.
It was seeming to them that joy came down
And back-water rescued those wandering ships.
And tired people in a foreign town
Already slept with a smile on their lips.
The voice was sweet and the beam was fine.
But only at the King’s Gate, where shadows are black,
Privy to the sacraments a child was crying,
Knowing that no one would come back.

* * *

I still recall those lasting torments:
The night burnt low outside.
The day's beam sneaked in, wan and formless.
Her wringing hands dawned in the light.

My life, so wasted, futile, wanton,
Humiliated, tortured, tossed.
Far off the day rose like a phantom
Marking the dome, the golden cross.

Bypassers' steps became more frequent
Beyond the blurred windowpane.
The circles in the puddles quickened
With drops of the despondent rain.

That morning lingered, lingered, lingered.
And otiose questions burdened, teased.
And nothing settled down, bringing
Any relieve with gush of tears.