Autumn (Осень), Vladimir Khodasevich

lingua fennica


On balance, a failure. As always, I strove to be faithful to metre, but the erratic storm of the Russian probably sounds odd when transposed into English – and the quest for rhyme here was probably at the expense of accuracy. Here’s a translation that doesn’t attempt to reproduce the metre, and in this case is certainly the better for it.

Golden on altar glints light,
Windows with glass flowers are braided.
Come I to God’s temple, shedding the night,
Heart with the autumn has faded…
Heart of the prophet has faded…

Gruesome. Autumn’s ingesting,
Autumn everywhere is draping red curtains,
And jesting…
Wind – as a groan – it delayingly burdens.
Falling and dancing, the leaves are arresting.

Bright in the morning. In church am I. Early.
Quivering golden surrounds me the organ’s sound surly.
Heart with groaning extended is sickening,
Ulcerated, with needles it’s prickling,
Prickles with needles autumnal…

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