Bragging Time: Compass Award 2016

My English translation of Bella Akhmadulina’s poem “To Boris Messerer” (1974) won third prize in the international translation contest Compass Award 2016:

To Boris Messerer

I later would recall: I was alive,
and it was winter, snowing, and my heart,
consumed with burning, ached, I was in love —
with whom? with what?
In Povarskaya street
(the name has changed) there was a house… The live-
long day, the whole night through I was in love —
with whom? with what?
The house in that old street,
the space that’s called a studio in which
an artist works.
Work lured the artist out
into the cold. Alone, I would await
his steps. Framed by the window, night drew on.
I later would recall: I looked upon
that waiting labor as my being’s aim,
but even then I could not help but pair
the urgency of tender hours that fleet —
with future woes… The house in that old street —
with the unheard-of day approaching fast,
when I’d recall that house, left in the past…

 

 

 

 

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