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424. LINES WRITTEN IN OREGON{*}

Esmeralda! Now we rest
Here, in the bewitched and blest
Mountain forests of the West.
Here the very air is stranger.
Damzel, anchoret, and ranger
Share the woodland's dream and danger.
And to think I deemed you dead!
(In a dungeon, it was said;
Tortured, strangled); but instead —
Blue birds from the bluest fable,
Bear and hare in coats of sable,
Peacock moth on picnic table.
Huddled roadsigns softly speak
Of Lake Merlin, Castle Creek,
And (obliterated) Peak.
Do you recognize that clover?
Dandelions, I'or du pauvre?[17]
(Europe, nonetheless, is over).
Up the turf, along the burn,
Latin lilies climb and turn
Into Gothic fir and fern.
Cornfields have befouled the prairies
But these canyons laugh! And there is
Still the forest with its fairies.
And I rest where I awoke
In the sea shade — l'ombre glauque[18]
Of a legendary oak;
Where the woods get ever dimmer,
Where the Phantom Orchids glimmer —
Esmeralda, immer, immer.[19]
<20 июня> 1953

425. ODE TO A MODEL{*}

I have followed you, model,
in magazine ads through all seasons,
from dead leaf on the sod
to red leaf on the breeze,
from your lily-white armpit
to the tip of your butterfly eyelash,
charming and pitiful,
silly and stylish.
Or in kneesocks and tartan
standing there like some fabulous symbol,
parted feet pointing outward
— pedal form of akimbo.
On a lawn, in a parody
Of Spring and its cherry tree,
near a vase and a parapet,
virgin practicing archery.
Ballerina, black-masked,
near a parapet of alabaster.
«Can one — somebody asked —
rhyme „star“ and „disaster“?»
Can one picture a blackbird
as the negative of a small firebird?
Can a record, run backward,
turn «repaid» into «diaper»?
Can one marry a model?
Kill your past, make you real, raise a family,
by removing you bodily
from back numbers of Sham?
<8 октября> 1955

426. ON TRANSLATING «EUGENE ONEGIN»{*}

1
What is translation? On a platter
A poet's pale and glaring heard,
A parrot's screech, a monkey's chatter,
And profanation of the dead.
The parasites you were so hard on
Are pardoned if I have your pardon,
O, Pushkin, for my stratagem:
I traveled down your secret stem,
And reached the root, and fed upon it;
Then, in a language newly learned,
I grew another stem and turned
Your stanza patterned on a sonnet,
Into my honest roadside prose —
All thorn, but cousin to your rose.
2
Reflected words can only shiver
Like elongated lights that twist
In the black mirror of a river
Between the city and the mist.
Elusive Pushkin! Persevering,
I still pick up Tatiana's earring,
Still travel with your sullen rake.
I find another man's mistake,
I analyze alliterations
That grace your feasts and haunt the great
Fourth stanza of your Canto Eight.
This is my task — a poet's patience
And scholiastic passion blent:
Dove-droppings on your monument.

427. RAIN{*}

How mobile is the bed on these
nights of gesticulating trees
    when the rain clatters fast,
the tin-toy rain with dapper hoof
trotting upon an endless roof,
    traveling into the past.
Upon old roads the steeds of rain
Slip and slow down and speed again
    through many a tangled year;
but they can never reach the last
dip at the bottom of the past
    because the sun is there.
1956

428. THE BALLAD OF LONGWOOD GLEN{*}

That Sunday morning, at half past ten,
Two cars crossed the creek and entered the glen.
In the first was Art Longwood, a local florist,
With his children and wife (now Mrs. Deforest).
In the one that followed, a ranger saw
Art's father, stepfather and father-in-law.
The three old men walked off to the cove.
Through tinkling weeds Art slowly drove.
Fair was the morning, with bright clouds afar.
Children and comics emerged from the car.
Silent Art, who could state at a thing all day,
Watched a bug climb a stalk and fly away.
Pauline had asthma, Paul used a crutch.
They were cute little rascals but could not run much.
«I wish», said his mother to crippled Paul,
«Some man would teach you to pitch that ball».
Silent Art took the ball and tossed it high.
It stuck in a tree that was passing by.
And the grave green pilgrim turned and stopped.
The children waited, but no ball dropped.
«I never climbed trees in my timid prime»,
Thought Art; and forthwith started to climb.
Now and then his elbow or knee could be seen
In a jigsaw puzzle of blue and green.
Up and up Art Longwood swarmed and shinned,
And the leaves said yes to the questioning wind.
What tiaras of gardens! What torrents of light!
How accessible ether! How easy flight!
His family circled the tree all day.
Pauline concluded: «Dad climbed away».
None saw the delirious celestial crowds
Greet the hero from earth in the snow of the clouds.
Mrs. Longwood was getting a little concerned.
He never came down. He never returned.
She found some change at the foot of the tree.
The children grew bored. Paul was stung by a bee.
The old men walked over and stood looking up,
Each holding five cards and a paper cup.
Cars on the highway stopped, backed, and then
Up a rutted road waddled into the glen.
And the tree was suddenly full of noise,
Conventioners, fishermen, freckled boys.
Anacondas and pumas were mentioned by some,
And all kinds of humans continued to come:
Tree surgeons, detectives, the fire brigade.
An ambulance parked in the dancing shade.
A drunken rogue with a rope and a gun
Arrived on the scene to see justice done.
Explorers, dendrologists — all were there;
And a strange pale girl with gypsy hair.
And from Cape Fear to Cape Flattery
Every paper had: Man Lost in Tree.
And the sky-bound oak (where owls had perched
And the moon dripped gold) was felled and searched.
They discovered some inchworms, a red-cheeked gall,
And an ancient nest with a new-laid ball.
They varnished the stump, put up railings and signs.
Restrooms nestled in roses and vines.
Mrs. Longwood, retouched, when the children died,
Became a photographer's dreamy bride.
And now the Deforests, with four old men,
Like regular tourists visit the glen;
Munch their lunches, look up and down,
Wash their hands, and drive back to town.
1953–1957
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17

Солнце бедных (фр.). — Ред.

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18

Тень цвета морской волны (фр.). — Ред.

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19

Погружайся, погружайся (фр.). — Ред.

94
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