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Dear friends, who’ve passed these nights with us!
Miles, and miles, and miles, and dry bread . . .
Roll of gypsy wagons,
Of rivers running back—
A rolling . . .
Ah, at the gypsy, Eden, early dawn—
Remember the hot neighing of horses, the steppe in silver?
Blue haze on the mountain,
And of the gypsy king—
A song . . .
At black midnight, under cover of ancient branches,
We gave you sons—fine as the night—
Sons—poor as the night . . .
And the nightingale unrolled—
Praise . . .
We couldn’t keep you, friends of that wonderous time,
Not with our poor languors, not with our poor feasts.
Campfires blazed hotly,
And to us, and on our carpets, fell
The stars . . .
29 January 1917
From Miles by Marina Tsvetaeva.
Marina Tsvetaeva (1982-1941), admired by Joseph Brodsky: “Well, if you are talking about the twentieth century, I’ll give you a list of poets. Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva (and she is the greatest one, in my view. The greatest poet in the twentieth century was a woman.” Translations by Mary Jane White appear in Starry Sky to Starry Sky (Holy Cow! Press 1988); New Year’s, an elegy for Rilke (Adastra Press 2007); Poets Translate Poets, (Syracuse 2013). After Russia: Poems of an Emigrant: After Russia, Poem of the Hill, Poem of the End and New Year’s (bilingual text, Adelaide Books (NYC/Lisbon, 2021).