Home > Translation > Untitled poem by Vladislav Khodasevich

Untitled poem by Vladislav Khodasevich

March 23, 2011

translated by Andrey Gritsman

Нет ничего прекрасней и привольней,
Чем навсегда с возлюбленной расстаться
И выйти из вокзала одному.
По-новому тогда перед тобою
Дворцы венецианские предстанут.
Помедли на ступенях, а потом
Сядь в гондолу. К Риальто подплывая,
Вдохни свободно запах рыбы, масла
Прогорклого и овощей лежалых
И вспомни без раскаянья, что поезд
Уж Мэстре, вероятно, миновал.
Потом зайди в лавчонку banco lotto,
Поставь на семь, четырнадцать и сорок,
Пройдись по Мерчерии, пообедай
С бутылкою «Вальполичелла». В девять
Переоденься, и явись на Пьяцце,
И под финал волшебной увертюры
«Тангейзера» — подумай: «Уж теперь
Она проехала Понтеббу». Как привольно!
На сердце и свежо и горьковато.


There is nothing else as fine and free
as to break up for good with a beloved her
and leave the railroad station all alone.
And then in front of you entirely new
the palaces of Venice would reappear.
You linger on the stairs and then go to
take a gondola. As you approach Rialto
you breathe in freely smells of fish,
rancid butter and the stale vegetables
and recall without regret that her train
has probably already passed Mestre.
Then walk into a banco lotto shop
and bet on seven, fourteen and forty,
walk down to Merceria and dine
with a bottle of Valpolicella. At nine
you change and show up at the Piazza
and, listening to the magic overture
from the Tannhäuser, think: “By now
she must have passed Pontebba.” How easy!
Your heart is refreshed, and slightly bitter.

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Vladislav KhodasevichVladislav Felitsianovich Khodasevich – Ходасевич Владислав Фелицианович (1886-1939) was an influential Russian poet and literary critic who presided over the Berlin circle of Russian emigre litterateurs. During his first years in Berlin, Khodasevich wrote his two last and most metaphysical collections of verse, Heavy Lyre (1923) and European Night (1927). Khodasevich didn’t align himself with any of the aesthetic movements of the day, claiming Pushkin to be his only model. For more, see his Wikipedia entry.

Andrey Gritsman, native of Moscow, Russia, lives in New York City—a physician, poet and essayist who writes in two languages. He is the author of several books in Russian and English, and his works are widely published and anthologized both in the US and in Europe. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart Prize several times, and runs a popular Poetry Reading series in New York.

  1. Roberta Burnett
    March 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    This translation presents the underside of love, much underrepresented. The male’s response to a breakup is very unlike a woman’s. So the content’s refreshing.

  2. alex cigale
    March 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you, Andrey; a personal privilege to be able to publish this. To put it in context, an apt parallel for Khodasevich is Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems, only set in the 1920s. The slightly elevated tone and blank verse here is adapted to contemporary language, revolutionary in the Russian context. The original, relying heavily as it does on unusual internal, feminine, and off rhymes, is in iambic pentameter more common to English. Khodasevich, to my mind, is absolutely central in having introduced to Russian verse the possibilities of language as it is naturally spoken.

  3. January 5, 2012 at 2:15 am

    Интересно, я даже и недумала об этом…

  1. May 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm
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