Speaking In Tongues
Guided by Voices

Boris Pasternak

Translated by Andrey Kneller

Winter night
Peerless Days
Don't cry...
Do not touch
After the Interlude

Winter night

The blizzards all across the earth
Have swept uncurbed
The candle burned upon the desk
The candle burned

As in the summer, moths are drawn
Towards the flame
The pale snowflakes soared
Towards the pane

Upon the glass, bright snowy rings
And streaks were churned
The candle burned upon the desk
The candle burned

On the illumined ceiling
Shadows swayed
A cross of arms, a cross of legs
A cross of fate

Two boots fell down on the floor
With crashing sound
And from the crown tears of wax
Dripped on the gown

And nothing in the snowy haze
Could be discerned
The candle burned upon the desk
The candle burned

A gentle draft blew on the flame,
And in temptation,
It raised two wings into a cross
As if an angel

It swept and swept all through the month
This frequently occurred
The candle burned upon the desk
The candle burned


The clamor ebbed. I walked onto the stage.
While leaning on a jamb, through cheers,
I'm grasping in the echo's distant range
What will occur during my years.
The twilight of the night has gathered
In thousands of binoculars on me.
If so you're willing, Father,
I beg you, take this cup from me.
I love your plan, so firm and stubborn
And I agree to play this role.
But as of now, there's another drama.
This time, expel me, I implore.
But, the predestined plot proceeds.
I cannot alter the direction of my path.
I am alone, all sinks in phariseeism.
To live a life is not an easy task.


Oh February, to get ink and weep!
And write about it mourning,
While the uprising, raging sleet,
Like in the spring, is burning.

Go rent a buggy. For six grivnas,
Ride through the blare of bells and wheels,
To where the shower often drizzles
Much louder than ink and tears.

Where, like the charcoal pears, the crows
From trees, by thousands, will rise,
Crash into puddles, and then toss
Dry sadness deep into your eyes.

Below, thawed patches glisten through,
With loud cries, the wind is grubbed.
The more haphazard the more true--
The poems are composed and sobbed.


There's still a twilight of the night.
The world's so young in its proceeding,
That countless stars in sky abide,
And each one, like the day, is bright,
And if the Earth contained the might,
She'd sleep through Easter in delight,
Under the Psalter reading.

There's still a twilight of the night.
It's far too early, it appears,
That fields eternally subside,
Right from crossroad to the side,
And 'til the sunrise and the light,
There is a thousand years.

And Mother Earth, of clothes deprived,
Has nothing else to wear,
To strikes the church bell through night
Or echo choirs in the air.

And from the Maundy Thursday night
Right 'til the Easter Eve,
The water bores the coastal side
And whirlpools heave.

The forest, in exposed expanse,
To celebrate the holy times,
As though in prayer, calmly stands,
In gathered stems and trunks of pines.

And in the city, in one place,
As though a mob commenced,
The naked trees sincerely gaze
Straight at the Church's fence.

Their eyes are fully filled with rage,
And their concern is heard.
The gardens slowly leave their cage,
The Earth shakes wildly in its range,
They're burying the Lord.

A light is seen that dimly glows,
Black kerchiefs and long candle rows,
And weeping eyes--
And suddenly, there's a procession,
Bearing the sacred shroud of Christ
And every birch, with a concession,
Along the entrance subsides.

They walk around the royal square,
Along the sidewalk's edge.
Into the vestibule with care,
They bring the spring and springtime flair,
A scent of Eucharist in the air
And vernal rage.

And March is tossing snow around
To beggars gathered on Church ground,
As though a person just walked out,
Opened the shrine, took what he found
And gave it all away.

The singing lasts throughout the night,
Those who have wept enough, they lastly,
Walk humbly quietly outside,
Onto the land under the light,
To read the Psalter or Apostles.

But after midnight, all will quiet,
Hearing the vernal lecture,
That if we wait just for a while,
We'll cast His death into exile
With holy resurrection.

Peerless Days

During the lengthy winter terms
The days of solstice I have greeted
And each was peerless in its forms
And endlessly each day repeated

A sequence file made of them
A bit by bit, would slowly mold--
Those solitary days, just when
The time completely seems to halt.

And now each day I recollect: --
The winter is halfway completed
And roofs are leaking, roads are wet,
Upon the ice, the sun is seated.

The lovers reach out to embrace
So eagerly, as if they're dreaming.
High in the trees, from sultry rays,
The starling-houses are steaming.

Half-sleeping hands are way too tired,
To endlessly turn 'round the face
And in a day, decades expire
And never ends the warm embrace.

Don't cry...

Don't cry, don't tense your swollen lips,
Don't pack them into creases.
You'll irritate those dried up bits
Of scabs from vernal fevers.
Withdraw you hand, don't touch my chest,
We're cables, on high voltage.
To one another, by some chance
We may be thrown by fortune.
The years will pass, and you shall wed,
You will forget this love then.
To be a woman-- a great step.
To drive insane-- endowment.
And I, bewitched by women's hands,
By charming shoulders and long necks,
As evident, have lost my sense,
Entranced by their divine effects.
No matter how the night might bind,
The dismal ring just cannot match
The force by which I'm held confined
And passion tempts me to detach.

Do not touch

"Be careful, do not touch, wet paint"--
My soul would pay the price,
The past on calves and cheeks is stained,--
On arms, on lips, on eyes.

I loved you more than grief and glee
Because when by your side,
The old and yellowed world would be
More white than any white.

I swear to you, my dusk, by chance,
One day will be, my friend,
More white than any lampshade, trance,
Or bandage on the head!

After the Interlude

Three months ago it all had started,
The early blizzards, -- snowy ashen,
Over our fields and yards unguarded
Have swept with raging, fuming passion,

And I made up my mind that night,
As though a hermit, on vocation,--
Of winter, poetry I'd write
And thus complete my spring collection.

But trivialities, like mounts, arose--
Like giant snow-banks firmly standing.
With plans, cold winter intercrossed
And seemed to be already ending.

Then, I perceived and got to know,
Why She, during the stormy night,
While piercing the darkness with the snow,
Out of the yard would peek inside.

She whispered softly: "Hurry up!"--
Her lips seemed pale from the chill,
I, sharpening pencils,-- did not stop,
Dismissing awkwardly her shrill.

And while one morning, I intent,
Behind the desk, delayed each sentence,
The winter came... it came and went
With some bewildering resemblance.


The roads will load with snow,
The roofs will feel its weight,
To stretch, outside I go:
There, by the door, you wait.

Alone, in an autumn coat,
No boots, no hat on you,
With worry still distraught,
The melting snow you chew.

The fences and the trees
Deep into murk withdraw.
You stand there in the breeze
Under the falling snow.

The headscarf droplets slide
Along the coat you wear
And dewy drops alight
And sparkle in your hair.

A pale lock will trigger
Enough of light to note
The face, the scarf, the figure
And this light Autumn coat.

There's wet snow on your lashes,
Your eyes appear displeased,
Your whole appearance flashes
In one entire piece.

As though a scrap of metal
Into the stibnite dipped,
Across my heart unsettled,
You were incised in script.

And in it, now forever,
Your humble features stay.
And thus, it doesn't matter
If life is harsh today.

That's why the night appears thus
Redoubled in the snow,
And boundaries between us
Therefore, I'll never draw.

But who are we, from where,
If from those years, today,
Just rumors are to spare,
And we have passed away?


Under a broom, entwined by ivy,
From rain, we're hiding for the time.
A cloak protects our shoulders slightly,
My arms around you are entwined.
I'm wrong. Around these thicket shrubs
Not ivy, but green hop has widened.
So, should we spread this cloak, perhaps,
Over the grass, for us to lie on?