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On a fateful day, an unlucky time

Boris Pasternak 1890 (Moscow) – 1960 (Peredelkino)

On a fateful day, an unlucky time,
Unannounced, it may happen thus:
Stifling, blacker still than a monastery
Utter madness descends on us.

Bitter frost. The night, as a decency,
Is observing the icy cold.
In an armchair, the ghost mumbles on and on,
Still the same, in his winter coat.

And the branch outside, and the parquet floor,
And his cheek, and the poker's shade-
All are shot with repentance and sleepiness
Of the blizzard that raved night and day.

Now the night is calm. Bright and frosty night.
Like a puppy suckling, still blind,
With the whole of their darkness-the palisade
Drinks the sparkle of stars through the pines.

Seems-it drips from them. Seems they're glimmering.
Seems-the night is brimming with wax
And the pad of one fir warms another pad
And one hollow traces the next.

Seems-this stillness, this height's an elegiac wave,
A concern of a soul for a mind,
The expectancy after an anxious 'respond'!
Or an echo of different kind.

Seems it's dumb, this enquiring of needles and trees.
And the height is too deaf or too blue,
And the shine on the frozen swerve of the road's
A reply to that pleading 'Helloooo…'

Bitter frost. The night, as a decency,
Is observing the icy cold.
In his armchair the ghost mumbles endlessly,
Still the same, in his winter coat-

Oh-his lips-he is squeezing them horribly!
Face in hands-shaking-ready to choke!
Whirls of clues for the gifted biographer
In this pattern, as dead as chalk.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:17 min read
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Boris Pasternak

Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a Russian poet, novelist, and literary translator. more…

All Boris Pasternak poems | Boris Pasternak Books

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