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This poem is taken from PN Review 226, Volume 42 Number 2, November - December 2015.

(tr. J. Kates) The Hermitage (and other poems) Sergey Stratanovsky
The Hermitage


Yes, I've been to the Hermitage. Everything there
Is store-bought. Fleshy dames gaze lewdly from the walls,
Here a Roman bosom propositions Papa, while elsewhere
Mothers weep for Christ taken down from the cross.

This is foreign to us and wafts nothing of our grief
To that coming world as plain as a blue balloon,
Cherubs, goddesses, Jews not to be imagined alive –
They only cripple the mind, but do not heal our pain.


Burn Raphael, who stole into the Hermitage like a thief
The flame will run like a sooty tiger from floor to floor
Burn Raphael, what good to you are the eyes of the Virgin
If you yourself, Emelia, have been cheated by fate from birth.


On the Destruction of ‘Danae’

Before the dark soul,
        Before the spite of Lithuanian bogs

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