The Stranger (Незнакомка), Alexander Blok

An atmospheric translation of an atmospheric original.

lingua fennica

It was only when I’d finished this that I discovered this translation by Nabokov. A little daunting, then, to offer my own, but at least I stuck to the metre – almost, having decided that ending each line with a dactyl would ask too much of the reader as well as the translator.
Anyway, I love this poem. Blok has an extraordinary ability to create an atmosphere. If I’ve half succeeded in emulating him, I’ll be happy. And there is something desperately true in his suggestion that drink fuelled imagination may be the best of which we are capable…
At evening time above the restaurants
There hangs a fetid muffled cloud,
With cries of rowdy drunk belligerence
Holds sway the vernal rotten crowd.
A long way from the dusty passage,
The dachas lost in dull ennui,
A pretzel glints its leaden message
And childish whimper calls to me.

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