Saturday, January 5, 2008

Four Poems by Asya Shneiderman translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky

The following translations were first published in

A Night in the Nabokov Hotel.
20 Contemporary Poets from Russia

Dedalus Press, Ireland, 2006 (

The other Russian poets from this anthology here

© Anatoly Kudryavitsky 2006

All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced
in any form or by any means
without the prior permission of the copyright holder.

Четыре стихотворения Аси Шнейдерман

«Доведены до нервного тика...» / Clocks
«Разве башня из камня...» / The Tower
«Город влажный лежал под нами…» / The City
«Спит-сопит общий вагон…» / Long-Distance Train

* * *

Доведены до нервного тика,
тикают тихо отовсюду часы.
Я переворачиваю,
переворачиваю их циферблатами вниз.
Я не верю во время.
Что это?
Упорядочение и упрощение.
Времени нет
(у меня нет времени) –
есть временнóе пространство,
врéменное, пока
ходят часы.
Переверните их циферблатами вниз –
и будем жить вечно –
будем жить вечностью.


Driven to tic and tick-tock,
clocks are ticking everywhere.
I turn them over, one by one,
faces down.
I don’t believe in time.
What is this word supposed to mean?
Surely, nothing else but
regulation, simplification.
Time is no more
(and I have no more time.)
Whatever still exists is infinite space
alias temporal space: it will cease to be
when all the clocks stop.
Turn them over, faces down –
and let us live forever,
live by eternity.

* * *

Разве башня из камня
властна над ветром,
поселившимся в ней?
Это он колышет ее изнутри,
очертанья меняет.
Так и тело.
Так и душа.

The Tower

Does this stone tower
have power over the wind
dwelling therein?
No, it is the wind that sways it from inside
and changes its shape.

Behold, the soul –
and its bodily stronghold.

* * *

Город влажный лежал под нами –
купола раскрытых зонтов, закрытых, шпили –
куполов бокалы, шпилей фужеры –
мужчина и женщина –
вожделенный, желанный город.
Только крыши тонкая жесть,
только боль
между нами,
между нами и небом.

The City

The damp city rests beneath us –
domed umbrellas, spear-shaped umbrellas,
broach-spires, cup-like domes, goblet-like domes.
A man and a woman –
and a city,
the desired, beloved city.
Between us
only the thin tin plates of this roof
and the pain.
Only the pain between you and me.
Between the two of us and the sky.

* * *

Спит-сопит общий вагон
Скрючились люди, изогнулись до боли,
конечности затекли,
позвоночники ломит,
неспособные тело держать.
Извиваясь, ползут по Земле
ожелезневшие голые
останки ящеров древних –
Неподвижно лежат
позвонки-вокзалы –
мощный хребет планеты.
Только ты, поэт,
беспозвоночный, бескостный,
любую форму принять способен –
и бесконечного –
в Млечный Путь,
в железную дорогу –
хребта всех вселенных,
и обрастать
плотью жизни.

Long-distance Train

A sleepy-wheezy
hard-seated carriage.
People huddled together,
their limbs become numb,
their backs aching,
their spines unable to hold their bodies up.

Iron skeletons of trains
crawl upon the surface of the earth,
ugly as they are,
resembling the remains of ancient pangolins.
Vertebrae of stations
are motionless –
the mighty backbone of our planet.

Only you, poet,
you spineless, boneless creature,
can take the form of everything,
including the infinite.
Cannot you turn into Milky Way
or become a railway,
the backbone of the universe –
and then attain the flesh
of the everyday?

Translated from the Russian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky


Asya Shneiderman
was born in 1968 in St. Petersburg, the only daughter of the well-known Russian painter and sculptor Liubov Dobashina. After studying English and art at Gertsen University, St. Petersburg, she worked as a teacher of English, and now works as a librarian. Since the end of 1990s her poems and short stories were published in Russian magazines and anthologies. Her first book of poems entitled Oboznachit' Molchanie Slovom / Marking Silence with a Word was published in Moscow in 1998. Her translations from the Irish poet Desmond Egan appeared in his bilingual English/Russian Selected Poems. She is currently working on her second collection of poems.

Asya Shneiderman on the Literaturnyi Samizdat site:

Website of the translator (Anatoly Kudryavitsky): in Russian and in English