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The Bow and the Strings

Innokenty Fedorovich Annensky 1855 (Omsk) – 1909 (St Petersburg)

How dark and heavy’s the delirium’s embrace!
How they’re turbid under moon – the heights!
To have touched Violin for so many years
And not distinguish those Strings in light!

Who craves for us? Who, insolent, has set
In flames two faces, yellow and vexed,
And suddenly the saddened Bow felt
That someone took them and forever merged.

‘How long ago it was – as in a dream
Tell me trough dark: are you the same one, else?’…
And Strings pressed close, caressing, to him,
Ringing and tossing in their fond caress.

‘Is that all true, that it’s enough, God blessed,
That we shall never ever part again?
And poor Violin replied him always ‘yes’,
Though its heart was sinking in sharp pain.

Bow fell silent, understanding, then,
But poor Violin still echoed its complaint,
And what seemed music to the most men,
To both of them was everlasting pain.

The man didn’t blow, till the night was gone,
The candles … And the Strings were singing, yet…
And they were found, drained of strength, by sun
On the black velvet of the sleepless bed.

Translated by Yevgeny Bonver, January, 2001

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Innokenty Fedorovich Annensky

Innokentiy Fyodorovich Annensky (Russian: Инноке́нтий Фёдорович А́нненский) was a poet, critic and translator, representative of the first wave of Russian Symbolism. Sometimes cited as a Slavic counterpart to the poètes maudits, Annensky managed to render into Russian the essential intonations of Baudelaire and Verlaine, while the subtle music, ominous allusions, arcane vocabulary, the spell of minutely changing colours and odours were all his own. His influence on the first post-Symbolist generation of poets (Akhmatova, Gumilyov, Mandelshtam) was paramount. more…

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