Friday 5 May 2023

1 Poem tr. by Nollan Valeria

Bird Cherry Trees

Such vast expanses were created

by mockery and tedious reproaches--

for I had planted bird cherry trees,

instead of trees of apple or plum.

I recall that even my neighbor

failed to praise my endeavor:

“They’re not very pretty,

and useless except maybe for shade.

Their berries make one’s mouth constrict,

one can barely eat two dozen if one tries.

Of course, when they bloom,

they’re fragrant and exquisite,

But that lasts for just three days a year.

And then it’s over. And forgotten.

And why plant them in a yard

when they grow in forests in abundance?

But yesterday I opened the window,

or, more precisely, threw open the window,

and was met by a fairy tale in white,

and stood transfixed at the sight.

A blaze of white fire

in the faintly golden hour of dawn . . .

Oh, three bird cherry days!

Let the rest be merely summer.

Be eccentric and capricious, oh weather,

I will not be deceived . . .

Oh, three bird cherry days

to offset the drab days of the year!

Fate, direct your destinies.

I’ll have my day. And will lay my head in the earth.

Three days of the blossoming of the soul!

Pick tons of berries for yourself.

In your blossoming and rustling,

you, too, my beauty, please forgive me,

for three bird cherry days,

while all the rest—are ordinary.

I hold that morning in my memory

and ask as life’s reward:

Please--three bird cherry days—

no other days shall I require.

Original author: Vladimir Soloukhin (1924-1997)

Северные березы [Northern Birches]

(Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1990)

translated from the Russian by Valeria Z. Nollan

iambic tetrameter

ten stanzas of quatrains

strick metrical form—classical

tone is elevated, solemn—

but linguistic content is deceptively informal—

Soloukhin’s trademark style—

serious, elevated

but witty and bantering, with humor

shows knowledge of colloquial language


«…Дай три черёмуховых дня, А остальных уже не надо». К 95-летию со

дня рождения Владимира Алексеевича Солоухина

Рубрика "Хронограф"

«Какой простор насмешкам был,

Упрёкам тошным и сварливым,

Что я черёмух насадил,


Где быть бы яблоням и сливам.

Как помню, даже и сосед

Не похвалил моей затеи:

"Ни красоты особой нет,

Ни проку, кроме, разве, тени.

От ягод сразу вяжет рот,

Ну съешь десятка два от силы.

Конечно, ежели цветёт,

То и душисто, и красиво,

Но это ведь - три дня в году.

И - отцвела. И - всё забыто.

Но для чего сажать в саду,

Когда её в лесу избыток?"

Но я вчера окно открыл,

Нет, распахнул окно, вернее,

И белой сказкой встречен был

И сразу замер перед нею.

Пыланье белого огня

В чуть золотистый час рассвета...

О, три черёмуховых дня!

Пусть остальное - просто лето.

Вы не обманете меня,

Чуди, капризничай, погода...

О, три черёмуховых дня

За остальные будни года!

Судьба, пути свои верши.

И отживу. И в землю лягу.

Три дня цветения души!

Себе берите тонны ягод.

И расцветая и звеня,

И ты, красивая, прости мне,

Что - три черёмуховых дня,

А остальные все - простые.

То утро в памяти храня,

Прошу у жизни, как награды:

Дай три черёмуховых дня,

А остальных уже не надо».

(«Три черёмуховых дня»)


Vladimir Soloukhin (1924-1997), Russian poet, essayist, prose writer, publicist
poem originally published in Северные березы [Northern Birches] (Moscow: Molodaia gvardiia, 1990)
Vladimir Alekseevich Soloukhin was a major Russian writer of the twentieth century. Known as one of the Village Prose writers, he championed the restoration of Russian historical and cultural monuments and in his writings courageously helped to debunk the existing canonical image of Lenin.

Valeria Z. Nollan is professor emerita of Russian Studies at Rhodes College. She has published many books and articles on Russian literature and culture. Her two poetry books are Holocaust of the Noble Beasts (Goldfish Press, 2020) and In Search of Rachmaninoff (Amsterdam: Rachmaninoff Society, 2004). Her poetry has appeared in the Asheville Poetry Review, Rhodes Magazine, Tennessee Voices, Canadian-American Slavic Studies, Poetry Pacific, and Russian almanacs. Issues that her poetry engages include art, music, beauty, the environment, and the suffering—and triumph—of animals.

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