Bizet – I. Severyanin

Russian Silver Age poetry translation series, 53/?

This is another one from Igor Severyanin’s “Medallions” collection of sonnets on famous people. I tried to emulate the repeated words in the original. The homage to “Sailing to Byzantium” in the first line, though, is not in the original, but I couldn’t resist. 


This is a country for pearl fishers here
For each bar has a triple pearly shine
At times, my ear’s disarmed by rosy line,
At time, black spreads its power over my ear,
Or grey would cut at times, so piercing clear
It sickens the ear, making it sweetly pine,
It warms us, so we need it, gift-refined
Fire rising through the windy atmosphere.

There was a day when crowds jeered, whistling, wagging,
Now granite for a pedestal they’re dragging —
What does an author care what changes hold?
Dearer than all gone days, I trust there will be
The day the universe’s youth all thrilled be
To Carmen’s song, a thousand years old!

Igor Severyanin, 1926; translation by Tamara Vardomskaya, September 19, 2019.