Letter to Mother (Письмо матери), Sergei Yesenin

lingua fennica

Yesenin reciting his poetry to his mother Yesenin reciting his poetry to his mother

Yesenin writes in a direct and simple style, so half the battle is to replicate this in English. The metre is a simple trochaic pentameter, except in the seventh and eighth stanzas, which each have one line that is a trochaic hexameter. Yesenin does not capitalise “я” (“I”) in the fifth and sixth stanzas, doubtless because he wants to strike a childish note. I therefore avoided capitalising “I”, although it appears more often in the English because the verbs are uninflected.

At one level, this might be seen as a poem about Yesenin’s delinquency; but it perhaps also reflects Yesenin’s continuing loyalty to the new regime.

Mother dearest, is your heart still beating?
Mine is too, so greetings, Mum, to you!
And I hope that over home still fleeting
Evening light unspoken sheds its hue.

Letters tell me you’re a little worried,
Seems…

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