MY PASTERNAK
     

      I became acquainted with Boris Pasternak in November of 1958, exactly at the very beginning of hate and harassment against the poet. The publication abroad of his novel "Doctor Zhivago" was the main cause of this hatred. In my archives, I kept a copy of the "Literaturnaya Gazeta", where the entire one page out of four was devoted to Boris Pasternak. So, I opened this newspaper, dated November 1, 1958, and then I saw a huge headline which was taking the most space on this page: "The anger and frustration"..."People of Soviet Union judge and disapprove the actions of Boris Pasternak". And then "This is the voice of Moscow writers: ...By writing Anti-Soviet slanderous novel "Doctor Zhivago", by sending his novel for publication abroad, Boris Pasternak betrayed the Soviet literature, and he betrayed the Soviet Union and the entire country and its people. And again: "should not this internal exile become a real immigrant?" this was written by writers and the students of the Institute of Literature. Not to mention the titles of these articles such as: "The correct decision ", "Slanderer ", "Paid slander", "Frog in the swamp". Here is the piece from the last one: "What is the occasion? All the newspapers write about some guy Pasternak. As if there is such a writer. Never heard of him until now, and never read his books. My father, a noble animal farmer... No, I have not read Pasternak, but I know that the literature is better off without frogs. Since I [T.K] was always the hidden anti-Soviet, I instantly became interested in all of this bacchanalia on the newspaper pages. By then I started listening to the Voice of America and BBC News on the radio (like many listeners I invented some technical tricks to get through the foreign radios suppression by the Soviets). Thats how I became familiar with the few chapters of Doctor Zhivago. And I did not hear anything rebellious, and the only thing I heard was a wonderful Russian prose.
Six or seven years have passed, I already knew very well who Boris Pasternak was, and when in 1965 in The Poet's Library" series the collection of his poems was finally released, I tried very hard and I was able to get that dark blue book of his poetry with an amazing prologue written by Andrei Sinyavsky. The book came out in the beginning of the year, and by the end of the year Andrei Sinyavsky was already arrested and sentenced to 7 years in Soviet labor camps since he followed the steps of Pasternak and published his work abroad (even though not under his own name, as was previously done by Pasternak). And here it is... there is the book of Pastenaks poetry in my hands. I did not want to leave it anywhere and took it everywhere...to work, and even during my daily walks... I was fascinated by the poetry.
My sister life tonight the spring-rains
burst and flood in all of us, but grumbling
men with monocles and polished manners
snap at me like dragons in the oats.
The old corrode with reason, but I know
you understand that reasons are absurd.
Eyes and grass are violet in the thunder,
terror with a scent of unripe flowers
moist to the horizon, so that, now,
in May, en route by train, the schedule
for the Kamyshin branch I just reread seems
grander than the words of sacred texts.
And here at sunset village-lights,
as people swarm across the platform
this is not my station dying sunlight
gardens and consoles beside me.
And the third bell sails and lapses
with apologies: Im sorry, Im a stranger.
Under blinds, night scorches, and the steppe
collapses toward the stars in flights of stairs.
Stars flicker, blinking somewhere sleep, like
honey fata-morganas, love, sleep sometimes my
heart laps the station platform. And the doors of
railway carriages pour open on the steppes.
Translated By Tony Brinkley

And here is one of the latest poems that Pasternak wrote. It is so astonishing in its brilliant simplicity.
Snow is falling, falling down.
The geraniums are trying
To befriend the sparkles flying
Past the windows woven bound.

Snow is falling, alls in action,
Smitten, taking off the ground:
The black stairs, the intersection, -
All is being lost and found.

Snow is falling, falling down,
Yet it isnt snowflakes floating:
In a torn and worn old coating
Skys descending to the ground,

As if, from the attic door,
Sky were coming down the stairs,
Hiding, sneaking, unawares,
Like the weirdo up one floor.

For our life wont wait around.
Blink and Christmas time is near,
But a few brief days and here,
The New Year will come to town.

Snow is falling, dense as lace.
Keeping up, if fast or slow,
Marking the exact same pace,
Be it laziness or race,

Time itself, perhaps, can go.
Or the years may go around
Steadily as snow comes down,
Or as poem lyrics flow.
Translated By Evgenia Sarkisyants

    And what about the novel Doctor Zhivago? I read it just few years before perestroika, and was very mesmerized how well it was written especially I was impressed by its last chapters where the author is judging the Soviet government and speaking about the dangers of collectivization. But it was so innocent comparing to the truth we learned just in few years...
    When I reread Doctor Zhivago recently, I was still admiring the genius poetry.

        Translated by Lina Donskaya

 

 

 

 

 

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