varia

The poem 'First dates,' by Arseny Tarkovsky (born 25 June, 1907; died 27 May, 1989) as it is used in Mirror, the 1975 film directed by the poet’s son, Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986)

First Dates

Each moment of our dates, not many,
We celebrated as an Epiphany.
Alone in the whole world.
More daring and lighter than a bird
Down the stairs, like a dizzy apparition,
You came to take me on your road,
Through rain-soaked lilacs,
To your own possession,
To the looking glass world.

As night descended
I was blessed with grace,
The altar gate opened up,
And in the darkness shining
And slowly reclining
Was your body naked.
On waking up I said:
God bless you!
Although I knew how daring and undue
My blessing was: You were fast asleep,
Your closed eyelids with the universal blue
The lilac on the table so strained to sweep.
Touched by the blue, your lids
Were quite serene, your hand was warm.

And rivers pulsed in crystal slits,
Mountains smoked, and oceans swarmed.
You held a sphere in your palm,
Of crystal; on your throne you were sleeping calm.
And, oh my God! -
Belonging only to me,
You woke and at once transformed
The language humans speak and think.
Speech rushed up sonorously formed,
With the word “you” so much reformed
As to evolve a new sense meaning king.

And suddenly all changed, like in a trance,
Even trivial things, so often used and tried,
When standing ‘tween us, guarding us,
Was water, solid, stratified.
It carried us I don’t know where.
Retreating before us, like some mirage,
Were cities, miraculously fair.
Under our feet the mint grass spread,
The birds were following our tread,
The fishes came to a river bend,
And to our eyes the sky was open.

Behind us our fate was groping,
Like an insane man with a razor in his hand.

(translated from the Russian by Tatiana Kameneva)