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The Old Barrel Organ

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

We almost lost our minds through that mad sky:
It blinds us with its fire or its snow,
And, baring teeth, like any beast of wild,
Old winter hides in April very slow.

No sooner has it fallen into sleep,
That has again its helmet over brows,
And those streams, gone into snow deeps,
Cease their song and freeze in deadly silence.

But all this is forgotten in the past,
The garden hums, and whitens vibrant stone,
And rooms look with opened windows’ eyes,
At dark-green grass, over the road sown.

But only one – the barrel organ old
Shivers with cold in May of sunset’s languor -
Can’t ever grind all injuries recalled,
As it rotates the heedful shaft with anger.

This rusty barrel cannot understand
That all its work is void of any goal,
That any pain of old age extends,
On every pin and every turn, in whole.

But even if it once were to discern
Its own fate and fate of the street organ,
It would not ever cease to sing and turn -
‘Cause every song is one of pain and moan.

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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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