Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Parabolic ballad - Andrei Voznesensky

Among a parabola life like a rocket flies,
Mainly in darkness, now and then on a rainbow,
Red-headed bohemian Gauguin the painter
Started out life as a prosperous stockbroker.
In order to get to the Louvre from Montmartre
He made a detour all through Java, Sumatra,
Tahiti, the Isles of Marquesas.

                                                    With levity
He took off in flight from the madness of money,
The cackle of women, the frowst of academies,
Overpowered the force of terrestrial gravity.

The high priests drank their porter and kept up their jabbering:
'Straight lines are shorter, less steep than parabolas.
It's more proper to copy the heavenly mansions.'

He rose like a howling rocket, insulting them,
With a gale that tore off the tails of their frock-coats.

So he didn't steal into the Louvre by the front door
But on a parabola smashed through the ceiling.

In finding their truths lives vary in daring:
Worms come through holes and bold men on parabolas.

There was once a girl who lived in my neighbourhood.
We went to school, took exams simultaneously.
But I took off with a bang,

                                                  I went whizzing
Through the prosperous double-faced stars of Tiflis.
Forgive me for this idiotic parabola
Cold shoulders in a pitch dark vestibule...
Rigid, erect as a radio antenna-rod
Sending its call-sign out through the freezing
Dark of the universe, how you rang out to me,
An undoubtable signal, an earthly stand-by
From whom I might get my flight-bearings to land by
The parabola does not come to us easily.

Laughing at law with its warnings and paragraphs
Art, love and history race along recklessly
Over a parabolic trajectory.

He is leaving tonight for Siberia.
                                                    Perhaps
A straight line after all is the shorter one actually.

Andrei Voznesensky (1933 - 2010) Russia
Translated by WH Auden
Source: Poets and Poems Collection

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