Boris Pasternak

(10 February 1890 - 30 May 1960 / Moscow)

The Wind(Four Fragments Concerning Blok) - Poem by Boris Pasternak


Who’ll be honoured and praised,
who’ll be dead, and abused,
that’s only known these days
to power’s sycophantic crew.

To honour Pushkin or not:
perhaps no one would know,
were it not for their dissertations
that shed light on our darkness so.

But Blok, happily, isn’t like that,
his case is a different one.
He didn’t come down from Sinai
or adopt us as his sons.

Eternal, owned by no programme,
beyond systems and schools,
he’s not been manufactured
or thrust down our throats by fools.


As the wind: like the wind. Like the wind
that shrieked on the estate in those days,
when Fil’ka, the postilion still galloped
at the head of a team of six bays.

And grandfather was still alive
crystal-pure Jacobin, radical soul,
his gusty grandson close behind
by a fingerbreadth, and as bold.

That wind, that penetrated
under his ribs, into his spirit,
entered his verse, and was praised,
in good times and in evil.

That wind’s everywhere. The house,
trees, country, and rain,
in his third book of poetry,
in The Twelve, in death – the same.


Wide, wide, wide,
river and field stretch away.
It’s haymaking time
it’s communal work today.

And the mowers at the bend
have no time to stand and gaze.
The mowing made Blok wild,
the young squire grasped a scythe,

missed a hedgehog at a swipe,
then two adders were sliced.

But his lessons weren’t complete.
‘You idler, you slacker’, they cried.
Ah, childhood! Ah, school, so dry!
Oh, the songs of the makers of hay!

At twilight, clouds from the east,
north and south are overcast.
Wind, unseasonable and fierce,
suddenly blows in, and hacks
at mower’s scythes, at the reeds,
hacks at the prickly copse,
where the river bends, runs deep.

Ah, childhood! Ah, school, so dry!
Oh, the songs of the makers of hay!
Wide, wide, wide,
river and field stretch away.


The horizon’s sinister, sudden,
and dawn is streaked with blood,
like unhealed lacerations
on a reaper’s legs, dark blood.

No counting the gaps in the sky,
tempests and storms, the omen,
and the air of the marsh is high
with water that’s rust and iron.

Over woods, gullies, and roads
over villages and farms,
the lightning in the clouds
prophesies earth’s harm.

When the rim of the city sky
is purple like that, and rusty
the State’s shaken, by and by,
a hurricane strikes our country.

Blok read the writing above.
To him the heavens were set,
on foul weather, presages of
whirlwind, cyclone, tempest.

Blok foresaw that storm and stress.
It etched, with its fiery features,
fear and longing for that excess,
on his life, and his verses.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 3, 2010

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