Poems About Love: Esenin

I was looking for a beautiful wedding poem to feature in the bridal gift box - which is looking so gorgeous - and I have come across so many beautiful pieces. Some classic, some modern and some - well, in Russian! The truth is different languages offer different colours to what you write and somehow Russian poetry just resonates with me on a whole different level. It's like painting with oils and then trying watercolours - both beautiful, but one heavier and stronger and another so delicate and full of muted hues.

There are however no good translations of Russian poetry. None. Why? I really don't know, perhaps it's a very tricky language to learn and the likes of Pushkin and Lermontov take some sitting down with. So, awake at 3 am and full of literary zeal I decided to translate some of my favourite Russian poems into English. If you like poetry as much I do I do hope these pieces will make you just a little curious about the great world of Russian poetry!


Sergey Esenin

 

Born in 1895 in Imperial Russia, Esenin became a true poet of his generation and like many others of his time explored the themes of love, disappointment, change and the true meaning of life. A son of a farmer, he was a talented man, known and loved in the artistic circles, often performing for the Royal family. He was unfortunate enough to have lived through the fall of the Russian Empire and the rise of the Soviet regime. In this turbulent time, he met, fell in love with and later married Isadora Duncan - an American dancer born in San Francisco. Isadora Duncan is often regarded as the founder of the modern dance with many schools named after her today.

Isadora and Sergey - who was 18 years her junior - didn't have it easy with the Soviet government strongly opposed to their union in the light of the Arms Race. They never felt safe, but Sergey refused to leave his country. In 1925 Sergey was found dead in his hotel room, his death still surrounded by mysterious circumstances and two year laters Isadora's silk scarf got fatally caught in the axel of her convertible. Their story, despite a tragic end, remains a real tale of love which fights all odds and never gives up.

 

***

You don't cherish me, you don't caress me -

Is my look too common for your taste?

But you hide your gaze in quiet fancy

As your hands reach higher up my nape.

 

You are young, with sensuous smiley gestures,

I am neither confident nor timid.

Tell me who were they that came before me?

Are their names at least remotely vivid?

 

I well know they passed you just like phantoms,

Never touching on your inner light.

You have sat with many men who asked you,

But for now you're siting by my side.

 

Let your eyelids close in dreamy wonder,

Let your mind think of somebody else.

I myself don't love you very vastly,

Drawn to that which makes to me most sense.

 

Destiny is very far from passion -

This is mindless, easygoing ride.

I have come across you in an instant,

And I easily will leave you far behind.

 

You will too keep to your private bearing,

Waiting out a series of old days.

But don't kiss those who have not awaken,

Those who have not burnt don't set to flames.

 

And when you are walking down an alley

Talking to another about love

Maybe I will meet you on the sidewalk,

And our eyes will meet again above.

 

You will lean towards your other suitor,

With your shoulders slightly tipping down.

You will say in little voice "good evening"

And I'll say "the same to you, Madame"

 

And not much at all will move inside me,

Nothing will cause tremor in my heart.

Who has loved will never love like first time,

Who has burnt will not be set alight.

 

- Sergey Esenin, 1925

 

Photography Inna Kostukovsky

Photography Inna Kostukovsky