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Clade Song 7

read by Akim Golubev


Моя любовь к тебе сейчас — слонёнок,
Родившийся в Берлине иль Париже
И топающий ватными ступнями
По комнатам хозяина зверинца.

Не предлагай ему французских булок,
Не предлагай ему кочней капустных,
Он может съесть лишь дольку мандарина,
Кусочек сахару или конфету.

Не плачь, о нежная, что в тесной клетке
Он сделается посмеяньем черни,
Чтоб в нос ему пускали дым сигары
Приказчики под хохот мидинеток.

Не думай, милая, что день настанет,
Когда, взбесившись, разорвет он цепи
И побежит по улицам и будет,
Как автобус, давить людей вопящих.

Нет, пусть тебе приснится он под утро
В парче и меди, в страусовых перьях,
Как тот, Великолепный, что когда-то
Нес к трепетному Риму Ганнибала.

read by Akim Golubev

Baby Elephant

My love for you has become—a baby elephant,
Not long since born in Paris or Berlin
Who stamps on padded soles about the rooms
Inside its owner’s small menagerie.

Do not attempt to offer him those fine French rolls,
And do not offer him the heads of cabbages,
He can only eat a piece of tangerine
Or a single sugar cube or candy drop.

But do not cry, my dearest, when eventually
He will be snickered at inside a dark cramped cage
As sales boys blow puffs of smoke from their cigars
Into his face to make the shop girls giggle and laugh.

And never think, my darling, that the day will come,
When he grows so enraged that he will break his chains
To rampage wildly down the boulevards and streets
And crush the crowds of howling people like a bus.

No, may you picture him in early morning dreams
In rich brocades and bronze, in splendid ostrich plumes,
Like that incomparable Magnificence who once
With boldness carried Hannibal towards trembling Rome.


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Nikolai Stepanovich Gumilev (1886-1921) was an adventurer and poet, and became Akhmatova’s first husband.  They were married in 25 August 1910, separated in 1913 and finally divorced in 1918. They had one con, Lev. While married both engaged in other relationships, but their commitment to each other as writers never flagged, and when the Bolsheviks arrested him on 3 August 1921 executed him one 25 (?) August as a monarchist, she grieved deeply.  He was one of the founders of the Poet’s Guild, which enunciated the principles of the Acmeist movement, and along with Mikhael Kuzmin wrote important essays and reviews that argued the Acmeist aesthetic particularly in opposition to Russian symbolism.  His poems are of interest and have been republished in Russia and translated into English.  Sponsored by the Imperial Russian Geographic Society, he went to Africa several times visiting Egypt, east and central regions.  He brought back artifacts housed in several Russian museums. African subjects are featured in many of his poems—the first Russian poems to feature such themes. After his early volumes in the Acmeist mode he later returned to a style closer to symbolism. In his last unpublished poems, he developed new style akin to later surrealists.  The late poems are much admired by Russian critics.


Don Mager’s chapbooks and volumes of poetry are: To Track the Wounded One, Glosses, That Which is Owed to Death, Borderings, Good Turns and The Elegance of the Ungraspable, Birth Daybook Drive Time and Russian Riffs. He is retired with degrees from Drake University (BA), Syracuse University (MA) and Wayne State University (PhD). He was the Mott University Professor of English at Johnson C. Smith University from 1998-2004 where he served as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters (2005-2011). As well as a number of scholarly articles, he has published over 200 poems and translations from German, Czech and Russian. He lives in Charlotte, NC.