Friday, March 30, 2007

Five Poems by Genrikh Sapgir 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.

Пять стихотворений Генриха Сапгира

Зло / Evil
Суд / The Trial
Клевета / Lampoon
«Тс-с…» / Sounds of Silence
Умирающий Адонис / Dying Adonis


в младенце сидело

оно сжимало
пухлые нежные кулачки
розовыми ножками
(все в перевязочках)
рот –
шире лица:
земля намазана небом –
толстый пирог
ешь – не хочу!..

но когда оставались
последние крохи
старик взвыл:
Боже мой! Боже!
меня сожрало


inside the baby
Evil was hiding

Evil clenched its
plump and tender fists
Evil tramped the floor
with its tiny pink feet
(all bandaged up)

out of Evil’s mouth
as broad as its face:
give me this!
give me that!
the land was spread
with skies
like a thick pie:
appease your appetite!..

with only a few crumbles left
the old man
Oh, my God!
has gobbled me up!


Беседую как с другом,
С Богом.
Но верю лишь своим
Они несут меня, несут
На площадь –
На Великий Суд.
- Что случилось?
Кого собираются вешать?
Отвечайте же скорее!
- Говорят,
Спрашиваю одного героя:
- Неужели всех
Врачей? –
- Рабиновича?
- Рабиновича.
- А Гуревича?
- И Гуревича.
- И Петрова Ивана Петровича?
Покосился этот тип.
Холодный пот
Меня прошиб.
- Ты сам, случайно,
Не сектант?
Интеллигент! –
Тут окончилась война,
И началась такая бойня,
Что даже Бог –
Мой лучший друг –
Никого не уберег.

У Бога есть один дефект:
Его смущает интеллект.


I talk with God
as with a friend
but I only believe in my legs,
in the end.

They carry me,
they bring me
to the square.
The Last Judgement
is on there.

‘What’s happening?
Who are they going to hang?
Tell me!’

They say, they are

‘Not all the medical men,
by any chance?’
I address a man of courage.


‘And Gurevich?’
Surely, Gurevich!
‘And Petrov Ivan Petrovich?’

The chap
looks at me askance.
I grow cold with fear.
You are not far
from a dissident, yeah?

Look, lads,
an egghead!

That instant the war came to its end
and the butchery began,
killings without remorse.
Even God, my best friend,
couldn’t save anyone from the worst.

God has a critical defect:
he is perplexed by intellect.


Напечатали в газете
О поэте.

Три миллиона прочитали эту
Шлют поэту
- Спекулянт!
- Бандит!
- Убийца!
- Печать не может ошибаться!
- А еще интеллигент…

- Справедливые слова.
Общественность – она права. –
Сказали чукчи и эвенки.
Редактор на подал руки…
Поэту принесли венки
И траурные ленты.
А поэт пропал без вести.
Уехал в гости.
Ни покаяния,
Ни завещания,
На двери
Буквы –
На прощание.

На окраине Москвы
На шоссе
И в лесу
По росе
Идет бандит и спекулянт:
Каждая росинка – чистый бриллиант!

Хорошо убийце
На зеленом лугу!
В солнце
Лес дымится
На другом берегу.
Посвистывает птица –
Газеты не боится.


A paper published something
about a poet.

Three million people read that
Members of the public
started to thunder
against the poet.
They called him names
in poison-pen letters:
‘Papers don’t make mistakes!’
‘And he was regarded as an intellectual!’

‘Public opinion can’t be wrong.
Our anger is strong!’
Evenk and Chukchi peoples declared.
His publisher left him clutching air.
Fellow intellectuals shook his hand
and tendered him a wreath and a crepe band.

Meanwhile, the poet
left his place,
and disappeared without a trace.
A rumour has it,
he went on a visit.
No repentance,
no messages left.
He simply put on his sweater,
wrote four letters,
beginning with ‘f’,
on his door –
and spat upon the floor.

Early in the morning,
‘the bandit and profiteer’
walks along the motorway,
and passes through
a suburban grove.
Every drop of dew
shines like purediamond.

‘The murderer’ feels fine here,
on these green meadows.
The forest on the other bank
steams in the sun.
Birds whistle,
and hares caper –
they are not afraid of the paper!

* * *


И еще

И это

И там

И далеко-далеко


Hark, hearer
can you hear it?

And this

And again

And there

And far, far away


Я – Адонис
Я хромаю и кровь течет из бедра
Я корчусь – червяк на ладони
Не отворачивайся Природа будь добра
Я – сын твой Адонис

Меня погубила дура из бара
Обступили какие-то хмуро и серо
Я падаю – мне не дожить до утра
Мне дурно

Вот приближается рокот мотора
Меня освещает белая фара
- Как твое имя парень?
- Адонис
“Адонис? Латыш наверно или эстонец”

Я – Адонис
Я совсем из другого мира
Там апельсины роняет Флора
Там ожидает меня Венера
И о несчастье узнает скоро
Дикие вепри
Бродят на Кипре…

- Ах ты бедняжка!
“Понял! он – итальяшка”

Я – Адонис!
Я чужой этим улицам и магазинам
Я чужой этим людям и трезвым и пьяным
Поездам телевизорам телефонам
Сигаретам газетам рассветам туманам


Я – Адонис
Я сквозь дебри за вепрем бежал и дрожал
Меня ветки за пятки хватали пытали
Меня били! любили! хотели! потели!
Я любезен богине Венере
Я не здесь! Я не ваш! Я не верю!

- Сумасшедший ясно
- Но откуда он?
- Неизвестно

Я – Адонис


I am Adonis
I am limping, my thighs are bleeding
I writhe like a worm
On somebody’s palm

Mother Nature, I beg thee
Don’t turn your back on me
I am your son Adonis

A stupid barmaid ruined me
Some gloomy figures beset me
I am fainting, I am dying on my feet
I won’t live to hear sweet morning birds…

Suddenly – roaring of a motor
A shaft of light
‘What’s you name, lad?’
‘Adonis? Must be Latvian or Estonian’

I am Adonis
I came from a different world
Flora drops slow oranges there
Venus is waiting for me
And will soon learn about my misfortune
Wild boars are roaming
In Cyprus…

‘Poor thing!
He’s from Italy, I think.’

I am Adonis
I am a stranger to these streets and shops
These telephones TV sets and bus stops
Cigarettes newspapers dawns and fogs
I have nothing in common with those folks…

‘He sounds
like a Jew’
‘He is one
I tell you’

I am Adonis
I was forcing my way through thickets
I was chasing a wild boar
Branches grasped me by my heels
I was sweating I was beaten
I was loved I was wanted
Venus is fond of me
I don’t belong here
I am not one of you
Believe me, it’s true…

‘A half-wit, surely’
‘But where does he come from?’
‘No one knows.’

I am Adonis

Translated from the Russian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky



Скульптор вылепил Икара.
Ушел натурщик,
— Халтурщик!
У меня мускулатура,
А не части из мотора!
Пришли приятели,
— Банально.
Лишь женщины увидели,
Что это — гениально.
— Какая мощь!
— Вот это вещь!
— Традиции
Древней Греции!
— Сексуальные эмоции!
— Я хочу иметь детей
От коробки скоростей!
И вскорости
На предельной скорости,
Закусив удила,
Родила —
Он летит и кричит,
Свою маму зовет.
Вот он входит в облака.
Зарыдала публика.
... Таково воспитательное значение искусства.
Раскланялся артист.
На площади поставлен бюст —


A sculptor
Moulded Icarus.
The model went back
Muttering "The hack -
I've got a heart
Not an engine part."
Friends came.
"Trite!" they said. "Tedious"
Only women acclaim
This work of genius.
"How moving!"
"Things are improving!"
Ancient Grecian..."
"Sexual emotion..."
"I want babies
By a gearbox!"
She conceived - and in a year
In top gear
With a roar
She bore
A helicopter.
It flies and cries
Calls to its mother.
There it goes, up to the sky
Breaking each onlooker's heart.
The artist took his bow.
There's a bust in the square now:
A self-portrait -

Translated from the Russian by Keith Bosley with Dmitry Pospelovsky and Janis Sapiets

Publication source: Russia's Other Poets
Longmans, 1968


Genrikh Sapgir (1928 – 1999) was born in Biysk, and lived in Moscow since his early childhood. He was a member of the now famous Lianosovo group of poets and painters. Since 1959 he published his poetry for children. As for his other poems, they appeared only in émigré magazines, such as Continent and Strelets/The Archer. Since 1989 his poetry, short stories, plays and novels have been widely published in Russia. Three volumes of his Collected Poems appeared at the end of 1990s. He represented Russia at numerous international festivals of poetry, and his work has been published in translation throughout the world. The English translations of his Psalms by Jim Kates of New Hampshire (available here) have been widely anthologised and highly appreciated. Sapgir was the recipient of various awards including the Pushkin Prize for poetry. He is regarded by many as the most important Russian poet of the second half of the 20th century.

Sapgir in Wikipedia:

The official Genrikh Sapgir site (in Russian):

Sapgir on the Unofficial Russian Poetry site:

Ivan Karamazov's interview with Anatoly Kudryavitsky about Sapgir (in Russian):

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


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