“To Poems” by Arseny Tarkovsky

translated from the Russian by Philip Metres & Dimitri Psurtsev

My poems:  fledglings, heirs,
Plaintiffs and executors,

The silent ones, the loud,

The humble and the proud.

As soon as the shovel of time
Threw me onto the potter’s wheel–
Myself without kith or kin–
 
I grew beneath the hand, a miracle.

Something stretched out my long neck
And hollowed round my soul
And marked on my back

Legends of flowers and leaves.

I stoked the birch in the fire
As Daniel commanded
And blessed my red temper

Until I spoke as a prophet.

I had long been the earth–
Arid, ochre, forlorn since birth–
But you fell on my chest by chance
From beaks of birds, from eyes of grass.

Arseny Tarkovsky, 1907 - 1989

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