Two poems by Sophia Parnok translated from the Russian by Rainie Oet.


What an amazing time it was!

What an amazing time it was!
Me, in my twentieth year.
The fountain gushed up
like an arc of diamonds.

Poplar fluff tumbled down,
and kids were up from the crack of dawn
stamping around
the fountain in the lane,

and the world was immenser,
and the sky was deep-bluer,
and – released from dovecotes –
doves plunged into the sky…

And life was even lighter
than the poplar fluff –
and oh so terrifying and fun,

the way it took our breath away!

October 4, 1927


I’m yearning, the way animals yearn.

I’m yearning, the way animals yearn,
With each yearning bone in my back,
And my heart – is like a door’s bell
That someone keeps ringing.

Quiver, empty bell,
Ring your alarm, trembling…
It’s time to head to the dump! And I’m not sorry
To end our shared life before it ends me…

So long, my graying Muse,
The fire of my departed days.
To my exhausted heart
You were once the music of musics!

I no longer bow at your bed.
I no longer listen for your sighs.
It’s terrible, but: I no longer love you,
Not even with the passion of hate.

January 26, 1933

Sophia Parnok & RAINIE Oet