Four poems by Dmitry Merezhkovsky

by Dmitry Merezhkovsky
trans. Edmund Grinbaldt



A pale moon, on the wane,
The air sonorous, dead and clear,
And on the naked, nippy willow
Murmurs a wilted leaf.

Catches frost, gets heavier
In the abyss of a quiet pond.
Darkens and thickens
The stirless water.

A pale moon on the wane
Is lying dead,
And on the naked black willow
The cold ray doesn’t tremble.

The sky shimmers, dear,
As the magical earth,
As the inaccessible fields
Of a lost paradise.



The sick, tired ice,
The sick and slushy snow…
And all is flowing, flowing…
How blithesome is the vernal run
Of mighty turbid waters!
And cries the hoary snow,
And dies the ice.
The air is full of bliss,
And the bell is singing.
From the arrows of spring will fall
The prison of free rivers,
The stronghold of grim winters —
The sick and darkened ice,
The tired, slushy snow…
And the bell is singing
That my God is forever alive,
That Death itself shall die!


Children of Night

Riveting our eyes
On the blanching east,
Children of sorrow, children of night,
We wait, to see if our prophet shall come.
We are scenting out the unseen,
And, with hope in our hearts,
Dying, we grieve
Over uncreated worlds.
Our speech is daring,
But condemned to die
Are the too early precursors
Of a too tardy spring.
Resurrections of the buried
And the rooster’s song
In the middle of the deep night,
Morning’s cold — they are us.
We are the steps above the abyss,
Children of murk, awaiting the sun:
Once we see the light, as shadows,
We shall perish in its rays.


Autumn in a Summer Garden

On a soft and foggy path,
Rustling with autumn leaves,
Wearing the smile of young life,
A child picks a strange bouquet.

The October night gets closer,
And the dying bouquet gets brighter,
And the lively eyes feast
On the exuberant hue of wilted leaves…

The more inconsolable the pale eve,
The merrier the child’s laughter,
Akin to the song of a spring bird
In the cold dusk of the path.

Its blissful season
Finds delight in withering.
To it, the fall of leaves is happiness,
And death only a game.


Edmund Grinbaldt is a translator and simultaneous interpreter from the Russian. His first encounter with Russian literature goes back to the times of Brezhnev, while his first encounter with Russian life goes back to the times of Glasnost and Gorbachev, when he was a member of several US delegations to the Soviet Union.