Sergei Yesenin


To the Prophet Jeremiah

1 I'm not scared of hell, Nor the rain of spears and arrows, - I read but one book of the Bible, The Prophet Esenin, Sergei's. When my time draws nigh, I fear no cracking whips. The body, Christ's body, Dribbles spit from its lips. I don't wish for deliverance Through his torment on the cross: A different doctrine I embrace As I butt through eons of stars. I seek a different Advent - And won't dance on the death of truth. I mock the blue firmament Like sheep sheered of stinky wool. I stretch my hand to the moon. It seems like a hazel nut. Without stairs I can't reach heaven. It throws back snow since I can't. Since I can't, my face just frowns In early light from the lake. Today I drop words like a hen Laying a golden egg. Today with my buoyant arms I am ready to change the whole world... From my shoulders my eight wings In the blizzard and storm unfurl. 2 All across Russia warning bells brayed - This is what makes the Kremlin walls cry. These days the stars with spades played You're upended, my land, feet to the sky! My hand reaches for an invisible city Its milky shroud dissipates and lifts. I even scrounge for morsels and the gritty Crumbs in God's beard with my teeth. I grab him by his full white mane And with the voice of the blizzard, say: I am another creator, lord, and deign That my words make ripe meadows glow! With every breath I take I curse Kitezh And all the dips and glens along the road. I want to reach into the very depths So we can build our own mansions instead. I speak the language spoken by icons The synod of martyrs and blessed saints. I mean you, Inoni a town, Populated by divine inhabitants. I weep and sob for the Moscow I see! Like a tourist from the Indies fresh arrived I peck through the hours of your Breviary With the piercing beak of my piercing words. I'll lead off your people in expectancy Filling them with confidence and might, So that at dawn they take up the plow And plow beneath the sun into night. And when filled with my words, they'll build Beehives out on the leas of ripe grass So sky will fold over the grain in the field With darkness like a cloud of mad bees. I - me! - curse you Radonezh saint, You and your heels and all your heels' tracks! Your golden flames scorch the fallow land, Slashing scars on the water with your axe. Your voracious pack of storm clouds brays As if it were a pack of furious wolves, Back and forth it calls and replies Wanting with eye teeth to tear like knives. The paw of the sharp-clawed sun Claws through your soul like blades. We weep by the River of Babylon And bloody rain falls on our heads. At you, today, with the voice of a storm, Picking up Christ's pants, I bray: To drive out the fur-lined moon Your hands scrub through your hair. I say to you - you'll all be killed, Stifled by the moss of your creed, How differently above our void Surges, invisible, the blood of God. And all of those who hate the Rev In vain like bashful caves will hide. How opposite is the one who can calve By the sun that rides in our Russian blood. How opposite is the one who can forge To bash through the boiling of the world A calf along the river's bank With horns ablaze with gleaming gold. He is now servant to the new Olympus, In his new face, binging, he is drunk. But to all peoples I exhort in a voice Of air and a comet's trailing tongue. Before the bowed legs of Egypt I unbind the worn shoe of your distress... And with pincer arms I snarl and bite At the south's and the north's snowy poles. With knees pinned to the equator Beneath the storm of a swirling dirge, I broke in half the earth's matter Like a golden loaf of warm kalach. And through that ruin, that shadowy abyss, Whose crash the whole world heard, Like the sun in its untamed resplendence, By sheer force I thrust my head. And four suns from out of their robes, Like four mountainous split barrels, Strewed golden hoops that roll down To stir into action the entire world. 3 And to you, America, I say I will chop off half of all your land, - I am anxious to let go and sail A watertight ship clad in iron. Don't disturb the cast-iron rainbow Spanning fields and granite-and rivers. Nor the waters of free Lake Ladoga Bearing down on those who live by its shores. Don't hammer the hazy blue moors And broad plateaus of the haze-blue heavens: Nor with nail heads hold together The aureoles of distant stars. Not in the chaos of a lava flood And its searing molten igneous ore, When the new Ascension has arrived I'll leave my footprints firm in the ground. Like smoky vapor rising off of elks, Heels leaving a trail of clouds I will girth myself with the earth's axis Around which sun and moon will ride. To you - I don't sing liturgies To your anticipated beams Nor illuminate their Advent way On a mountainside where sheep graze. But find the arrow from your shot Is planted still inside his breast Like a flame of wool, pure and white, In his blood that gushes through dark mist. The hoof-prints of the golden stars, Through furrows of night are streaking down. And their needles knit and brightly flare Along seamless stockings of black rain. I rumble the moon's and the sun's wheels Like peel on peel of rolling thunder; And my unleashed hair surrounds my face Like wings spread wide with unleashed fire. I rush the mountain toward your ears, A spear wailing through feather-grass. All your palings and all your fences I sweep away in handfuls of dust. I furrow through your blackened cheeks, Your fields with a new wooden plow; And a golden magpie's flight streaks Above the harvest land below. Upon the new inhabitants, Fields roofed with ears of clattering grain, The sun throws down its golden rays Whose shafts stretch up from fields to sun. New pines spring up calling to you To look where they've rooted themselves in your fields. Between them yellow of spring darts through Like squirrels leaping about in the branches. The blue river begins to be seen, Boring through the dark mesh. And dawn, with eyelids cast down, Holds her catch of starry fish. To you I say - the time has arrived, As I spit out thunder from my lips, That ripened kernels for your bread Will jut out onto the blue darkness. And above a world with invisible stairs, His heart pasted to his mouth, the crow Of a rooster suddenly soars Giving notice to marges and meadows. 4 On a cloud I pass through the ripe corn With its dry chaff hanging down. I hear a demigod on waves of a storm As his tight lipped whistle shone. Far away from my backwater pier Blue reflects across the lake. Inoni a, I see you there With golden banners on your mountain peak. I see your cornfields and peasant huts And a little old mother beside her porch; The beams from the sun as it slowly sets Her fingers stretch out and strive to clutch. He is pinched inside the little window, Clutched around his own hump, - Dragging his dear ball down below By himself like an anchor's grip. And a murmuring beneath a stream Reverberates along the shallows of its bed, As song from invisible candles seems To trickle down from the mountainside. "Glory to God in the highest And on earth peace! The moon with horns of blue Pokes the clouds with holes. Someone led the goose Out of its starry egg - The brightness of Jesus Is a sign pasted big. Without cross or passion, Someone with a new creed Stretched up to the heavens The spectrum like a bow arched. Rejoice, rejoice, O Zion, And weep now for the world! Once new on the horizon Nazareth has gown old. The world toward the Savior Rides like a fresh horse. But our faith - is in power, Our truth - in us!"

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