Speaking In Tongues
Guided by Voices

Maximilian Voloshin

Translated by Konstantin Rusanov

* * *

Was it not you
Who in the time of sorrow
Cast down
The scales and the sword
And licensed the berserk
To weigh the good and evil?

Was it not you
Who kneaded peoples
Solidly and densely,
Leavening the dough
With blood and tears,
Who now tramples down, fierce,
Human clusters,
By fury overtaken?

Was it not you
Who flung the poet
Onto the agorae
of the universe
For him
To be the orb and ear?

Was it not you
Who dispossessed
Our arms of vigor
And forbade us
To stack offences up
On the deep dish
Of earthly scales,
But decreed
That we become
A pointer marking
The difference in weight?

Was it not you
Who forced the heart to bless
The murderer and murdered,
The enemy and kinfolk?

Was it not you
Who compelled the mind
To reconcile itself
To the fulfillment
Of your unfathomable ways --
Ablaze with contradictions
Incongruous with humanly
Restricted thought?

Give us the strength
To swear by the wisdom
Of bloodsheds past;
Allow to see,
Through death and time,
The brawl of nations
As a spasm of passion
Ejecting seeds
Of otherworldly flora!


From Lunaria


The pearl bejeweling the quiet of night,
The gem of the lagoon's star-studded base!
Your light makes young and pallid every face,
Thorn-apple longs for You in love-lorn plight.

Love's anguish echoes in the hearts the tunes
That, string-like strummed, Your rays set loose.
Uneasy dreams revive and reproduce
In haunting hues the once disquieting moons.

Your humid glow and faded shadows, falling
Upon the walls, the stairway, and the flooring,
Throw tints of turquoise onto stones, finesse

The leaf of plane toward greater yet indention,
Endowing strands of vine with greater fineness.
Dreams' luminary! Mistress of conception!

* * *

Your love is like the Milky Way
Whose stellar dew inside me glimmers.
In dreams, its hidden torment shimmers
Like diamonds rippling in the waves.

You are, like astral fluid, bitter,
The light of tears that pierces graves.
I am the skyline that obeys
The dawn, its blind and useless glitter.

I pity night… Is it because
Its stellar agony will cause
A death and harden thus our hearts?

My day is like blue ice… Behold!
The stars grow dim, as night departs
At dawn and softly enters cold.

March 1917

* * *

The stoop of oaks lifts up the chrome of clouds.
Cliffs harbour alcoves, niches, grottos deep.
And rain and wind and heat have left their traces
Into these stones engraved. A sketch is grooved
Onto the slope, crayoned by lichen, framed by moss,
And walls of rock rise up as icon-cases.
The cinnabar and niello here, yonder --
Vestiges of gilding and of icons
The cryptic visages time-worn…


* * *

Full-blossomed, blue-grey and milky, the day froze still;
The sea, grown pallid, sobs as it kisses the sand;
The wings of the mist
Shed splashes of brine…

Humility envelops the heart. Quiet…
Thoughts die away. In the orchard, the olive
Stretches her boughs to the blind sky
With the gesture of a slave…


* * *

A somber adolescent, I roamed
The acrid valleys
Of wistful Cimmerea,
My sightless spirit
With the anguish of the ancient land.
And in the twilight in the folds
And depths of bays
I waited for the sign and call,
And once, before the break of day,
I watched Orion rise
And realised
The horror of the blinded planet,
My orphanhood and sonhood…
Boundless warmth and pity
Overfill me.
My love for the human body
Is inconsolable. I know
The flame
That languishes in bodily separation.
I like to hold in hand
Dry burning fingers
And read man's destiny
Along the lines of prophesying palms.
But I was not conferred the gift
Of undivided love for one:
I abandon all, forgetting no one.
I never have disturbed what grows,
Nor have I ever plucked
A budding flower,
Picking only ripened fruits,
Thus lightening overburdened boughs.
And if I was the source of pain
It only was because
I pitied those towards whom
One should have been unfeeling at the time,
Because I wasn't willing
To exhaust to death
Those, who asking for compassion,
Begged wholeheartedly
For annihilation…