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Chlebnikov on ELIMAE

juli 8, 2010

Nine translations by Alex Cigale and an essay on Brodsky reviewing Schmidt’s translations @ the Elimae publishing house:

9 Poems by Velimir Khlebnikov

Translated from the Russian by
Alex Cigale

From a tote bag
Things spilled on the floor.
And I thought,
What a world —
One big joke
Warming itself
On the lips of a hanged man.



A commandment of the law of swings,
To wear shoes too wide and too narrow,
The time to be first night and then day,
And earth’s masters at times rhinos at times men.



The Song of an Embarrassed Man

On the sheet of stones
I saw a dark evergreen.
It seemed her hands, without knuckles,
Were knocking upon my living cell.
So early? How strange; as a skeleton
I come to you in the evening
And, holding out my long hand,
Fill the living room with constellations.

Late 1913


Fly! what a gentle word, beautiful,
with your paws you wash your face,
and at times behind the ivy tree
digest a letter.



And the evening a darkener,
And the poplar an earthener,
And the sea, river-speak,
And you, distantlier!



So pleasant to see
a little out-of-breath mermaid
who’d crawled from the forest
diligently erasing
with the dough of white bread
the law of universal attraction!

Early 1922


There is that smell of honey-clover flowers
Among the forget-me-nots
In which I am
My distracted strict intelligence
The square root of negative one
Melts the division’s dots
Relating that which was
Toward what will be.
At stake.

Early 1922


The sun’s rays in the dark eye
of an ox
and on the wing of a blue fly,
like a wedding’s line dance
that streaked past above him.

Spring 1922


So little I need!
A crust of bread,
a drop of milk.
And this sky,
and these clouds!

1912, 1922

Russian originals of the translated poems:


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