Exactly forty years ago-a train our shelter!
Before you sleep, my dear, call back to mind
The way it outstripped all, left Time behind,
One northern midnight whirled us through the welter.
Our faces pressed hard on the sweating glass,
We traced it all the stations, rushing tunnels,
The bridges, semaphores and roadside runnels,
The spruce-as, startled, into darkness they did pass.
Two beings, perfect strangers to each other:
Two different worlds. But we one spring, withdrawn,
From sleep deprived, unto the very dawn.
Spring's hand extended brought us both together-
The best of all her favours that exist
Which spring could give to last forever after.
That's why your face shone out in friendly laughter
Before me in the early morning mist.
You were but twenty! No imagination
Of yours could see ahead. The title page
Of our two lives, then no thing could presage,
No horoscope drawn up from star fixation.
The train flew on-all hardships struggled through
That from the start of life the road exacted,
That were through this dim lens but seen refracted-
And on our future home its floodlight threw.
Between that spring and now, so much transpired-
The silent dead, the work in roaring clip,
Towns, meetings, theatres, books-in fellowship
Today, as guests, we meet what we inspired.
Let's have them in, around our table stay.
My dear, let's meet them on the very doorstone.
Such different roads they took, past every milestone,
But not for nothing did they come our way!
And in the midst of May as once before-
In spring's incredible and shining blue
Our "far-fetched" castles in the air come true,
And straight talk rings out, honest to the core,
Just one thing counts: Put all your trust in store,
On Life's great power, Tomorrow's dawning clear -
And boldly, bravely, full of wise good cheer
Go meet the future. Open wide the door!
Translated by Gladys Evans.
PAVEL ANTOKOLSKY (1896-1978). Was born in Moscow and studied law at Moscow University, at the same time attending a drama school run by Yevgeni Vakhtangov. He worked as actor and stage producer. His verse first appeared in print in 1918 and his first book of poems came out in 1922. After touring with a theatre company in the twenties he wrote poetry cycles about Germany, Sweden and France. In 1934 he left the theatre to devote himself wholly to literature. In the thirties he travelled widely in the Soviet republics of Central Asia and the Caucasus together with fellow-poets Nikolai Tikhonov and Vladimir Lugovskoi. He later produced some of the best translations of the poetry of those lands. His output includes ballads and longer poems, as well as lyrical verse and translations of French poetry. A USSR State Prize winner, he has written much literary criticism and many articles on the history of literature.