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This article is taken from PN Review 30, Volume 9 Number 4, March - April 1983.

Vladislav Khodasevich 1886-1939 Henry Gifford


Overstride, overspring,
Overfly, over-whatever you please-
But break out: stone from sling,
Star shooting the night skies . . . .
You lost the thing-use your eyes now . . .

God only knows what you keep muttering,
Groping after your pincenez, keys. 1921

Lèdi kept washing and washing her hands,
Lèdi rubbed at them, tried to rub something out,
The memories of this lèdi
Gag on the thought of a bloodstained throat.

Lèdi, Lèdi, like a bird
You writhe on your couch sleeplessly.
For three hundred years sleep has not come to you-
Nor for six years has it come to me. 1921

                It seemed an error to English Khodasevich's mode
                  of address for the wife of the Thane of Cawdor
.

THE BLIND MAN

Feeling a way with his stick,
It is by guess the blind man wanders,
Cautiously setting down a foot
He ponders out loud.
And on the blind man's eyes
Crowds a whole world reflected:
House, meadow, paling, cow,
Shreds of blue out of the sky-
All that sight can never know. 1923

Through light dank, drab, all winter-lack
-He bears a box, and she a sack -

Crossing a Paris paved in wet
Wife and her man with burdened step.

Behind them ...


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