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Russian Autumn Poems Part I

by John Cobley

Thursday Oct 8th, 2020







The unprecedented autumn built an immense dome;

The clouds were ordered not to darken it. 

And people marveled: September is moving on.

Where are the freezing, damp days?

The murky canal waters have turned emerald;

The nettles were smelling like roses, only stronger. 

It was sultry from sunrise, unendurable, diabolical, scarlet.

All of it would stay with us to the end of our days.

The sun was like a rebel entering the capital.

And springlike autumn caressed it so ardently,

As if the translucent snowdrops would soon turn white …

That’s when you, so calm, came to my porch.


Anna Akhmatova






Along the narrow path

I went, intoxicated by my daydream,

And in each blade of grass

Someone’s shining eyes were burning.


The grass joined forces,

Sang slowly and scared away the flowers

With its breath of green poison, 

Flooded with autumnal light.


And into the fraudulent happiness

Of the last cold and imperious sunbeams

Rang the guffaw of Pan,

And supernatural words were heard.


And the dryad maidens,

With crystal tears over an azure spring,

After tasting ecstasy,

Have dozed into a divine autumnal sleep.


I know treachery.

Today I am the jubilant brother of Pan,

But tomorrow I will be dressed

In the capricious attire of snowdrops.


And an icy sadness speaks 

Through a dwindling agitation in the blood

Of happiness without paradise,

Eyes without a smile and dreams without love.



Nikolai Gumilev (1912?)






In the radiance of autumn evenings

There’s an affecting, enigmatic charm:

The ominous magnificence of multi-coloured trees, 

Languid with purple leaves gently rustling,

The silent and hazy azure,

Above a sadly orphaned earth,

And like the foreboding of coming storms,

An occasional gusty cold wind,

A waning, an exhaustion—and over all

A meek and fading smile

That in rational beings we call    

The divine modesty of suffering.



Fyodor Tyutchev 1830






Tyutchev   Autumn


When autumn initially arrives

There’s a wonderful brief interval:

Whole days that seem like  

Radiant crystal evenings…


Where the sickle has cut and the corn fallen

Everything is empty now—space everywhere;

Only thin strands of a spider web

Glitter on the idle furrow.


The air is empty; no more birds are heard;

And still long before the first snowstorm

A pure warm azure flows

Upon the reposing field.



Fyodor Tyutchev, 22 August 1857.





                                                                        To A. Simonov



The autumn season is within me, 

Within me clearly and coolly,

And I’m sad, but not depressed;

In fact I’m full of humility and virtue.


And if I sometimes lose my temper

That’s my way--flying off the handle,

And to me comes a sad and simple thought, 

That losing my temper is not what I really need.


What I do really need, in order to separate myself

From the slings and arrows of this world,

Is to see through the nakedness of autumn

When you and the world are visible.


Insights—they’re the children of silence.

It’s not so terrible to rage aloud.

We should calmly shed everything that is noisy

In the name of the new leaves we are owed.


Evidently something has happened to me,

I am relying only on silence,

Where the leaves, lying on top of each other,

Silently become earth.


And you see everything, as if from a certain height,

When you manage to shed leaves over time,

When inner autumn can impassively lay

Its light fingers on your forehead.



Yevgeni Yevtushenko

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