“Tonight in all the nights I am alone” – M. Tsvetaeva

Russian Silver Age poetry translations, 11/?

Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow, and all her life she had a passionate love for that city. She wrote a poetic cycle about her love of Moscow, but this poem is part of her cycle “Insomnia,” written mostly in 1916 (with one poem dated from 1921).

Tonight in all the night I am alone,
A sleepless, homeless wandering black nun!
Tonight a key to every door I own,
Of this fair city that is only one!

The road is calling me from my vain rest.
– My fog-dull Kremlin, beautiful you are!
Tonight I kneel and kiss the burning breast
Of all the earth, all round and all at war.

Not hair but fur arises with the mist
As sultry breezes blow into my soul.
Those who are pitied, and those who are kissed –
Tonight I have but pity for them all.

Marina Tsvetaeva, 1916; translation by Tamara Vardomskaya, July 2016.

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