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Selected Poems

4.36 of 5 stars 4.36  ·  rating details  ·  3,987 ratings  ·  57 reviews
During the Stalin years Russia had four great poets to voice the feelings of her oppressed people: Pasternak, Akhmatova, Mandelstam and Marina Tsvetayeva. The first two survived the terror, but Mandelstam died in a camp and Tsvetayeva was driven to hang herself in 1941. This comprehensive selection of Tsvetayeva's poetry includes complete versions of all her major long poe ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 1st 1987 by Bloodaxe Books (first published 1971)
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Peycho Kanev
When in 1941 the Nazis started bombing Moscow, Marina Tsvetaeva and her son were evacuated to Yelabuga, a town in the Tatar Soviet Socialist Republic (now Tatarstan).
She desperately sought work and even applied for a dishwashing position but was refused. On 31 August 1941, Tsvetaeva hanged herself. Marina Tsvetaeva’s exact burial place was never found. Her husband, Sergey Efron, was executed in August 1941 – the same month that she committed suicide. Her 19-year-old son Mur was killed in World
List of Collaborators

--I know the truth
--What is this gypsy passion for separation
--We shall not escape Hell
--Some ancestor of mine
--I'm glad your sickness
--We are keeping an eye on the girls
--No one has taken anything away
--You throw back your head
--Where does this tenderness come from?
--Bent with worry
--Today or tomorrow the snow will melt

Verses about Moscow

From Insomnia

Poems for Akhmatova

Poems for Blok

And I won’t be seduced by the thought of
my native tongue, its milky call.
How can it matter in what tongue I
am misunderstood by whoever I meet

(or by what readers, swallowing
newsprint, squeezing for gossip?)
They all belong to the twentieth
century, and I am before time,

stunned, like a log left
behind on an avenue of trees.

from ‘Homesickness', 1934

This is a challenge to review. First, the co-translator Angela Livingstone (who did about half of the literal translations that Elaine Feinstein turned int
Of the great 'silver age' poets (Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Pasternak, Blok, Mayakovsky...) I find myself returning more and more to Tsvetaeva--the expansive emotion is most like Mayakovsky's--explosive--but the she has the control and compressed power of an Akhmatova. They're astonishingly good. She's a great lover, a great hater, sarcastic, vulnerable, more emotionally ragged than Akhmatova. But no less precise as an artist.

I've found a couple of wonderful girls reading Tsvetaeva poems on Youtube
Jun 17, 2010 Miriam marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Miriam by: FT
Shelves: poetry
Your name is a -- bird in my hand
a piece of -- ice on the tongue
one single movement of the lips.
Your name is: five signs,
a ball caught in flight, a
silver bell in the mouth

a stone, cast in a quiet pool
makes the splash of your name, and
the sound is the clatter of
night hooves, loud as a thunderclap
or it speaks straight into my forehead,
shrill as the click of a cocked gun.

Your name -- how impossible, it
is a kiss on the eyes on
motionless eyelashes, chill and sweet.
Your name is a kiss of snow
a gulp
her poems feel as if she is drawing a straight line from her guts to your heart. it's almost too much, and i found myself physically buckling at points, snapping the book shut to save myself from the fire. Tsvetaeva brings all of my favorite dinner guests together: unyielding authorial voice, raw honesty and unflinching self-reflection, a keen eye for that porous gauze between the self and the other, she reads as one of the last honest witnesses of human history. i only wish i could read the ori ...more
Wait, I'm confused. The book description above is the same as for the Tsvetaeva collection Elaine Feinstein translated for Penguin, and carries the same reader reviews. The Bloodaxe book I'm holding is translated by David McDuff, and it's awful. It's awful because it rhymes. I know Tsvetaeva in Russian rhymes, and the boxy quatrains he favors are probably hers, too. I know the temptation clever translators feel to stretch their chops and replicate rhyme in English. I know that given the rich mil ...more
Tsvetaeva is one tough nut to crack. Her poetry has this searingly personal intensity. Like you're with her in a hermetically sealed room watching her stab wildly out at the dark with a knife. I could never figure out who or what she's trying to confront, her absentee husband? an affair? the stalinist purges? having to put her daughter in an orphanage because she couldn't afford to feed her? She has so much to be burned up and consumed by emotionally. Maybe she's just railing against life itself ...more
It's generally agreed that there were four great 20th-century Russian poets: Tsvetaeva, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, and Pasternak. Akhmatova herself, with her characteristic lack of false modesty, acknowledged this fact in her poem "There Are Four of Us." For me, the fact of this tetrad (two females and two males) brings to mind the fact that Leda, when impregnated by Zeus-disguised-as-a-swan, had four offspring: two girls (Helen and Clytemnestra) and two boys (Castor and Pollux). Akhmatova, who was ...more
What's the Russian for "so much better than David McDuff's rhyming translations I blew kvass out my nostrils with gleeful surprise while reading these?" Hooray for a translator who sees that Tsvetaeva's "consistent adherence to rhyme and to metrical regularity would, if copied in the English poems, probably enfeeble them," and whose worst sin is the venial one of setting the poems to standard plainspoken translatorese. Them's the pitfalls of the trans biz, as Feinstein's the first to acknowledge ...more
One of my favorite poems from the collection:

On Parting

Teasing and tempting and playing
We loved like children, us both
But somebody, hiding a smile,
Set up the ungentle nets -
And here we are at the harbor,
Not seeing the wished-for abodes,
But knowing that I will be yours
In the heart, without words, until death.

You told me of all things - so early!
I guessed them so late! In our hearts
A wound is eternal, a silent
Question exists in our eyes,
The desert on earth is so endless,
The heaven, s
One of the Best poems ever!

Мне нравится, что вы больны не мной,
Мне нравится, что я больна не вами,
Что никогда тяжелый шар земной
Не уплывет под нашими ногами.
Мне нравится, что можно быть смешной -
Распущенной - и не играть словами,
И не краснеть удушливой волной,
Слегка соприкоснувшись рукавами.

Мне нравится еще, что вы при мне
Спокойно обнимаете другую,
Не прочите мне в адовом огне
Гореть за то, что я не вас целую.
Что имя нежное мое, мой нежный, не
Упоминаете ни днем, ни ночью - всуе...
Что никогда в це
I first fell in love with her "Poems for Akhmatova":
"Muse of lament, you are the most beautiful of
all muses, a crazy emanation of white night:
and you have sent a black snow storm over all Russia.
We are pierced with the arrows of your cries

so that we shy like horses at the muffled
many times uttered pledge--Ah!--Anna
Akhmatova--the name is a vast sight
and it falls into depths without name

and we wear crowns only through stamping
the same earth as you, with the same sky over us....

I stand head in
Two trees want to be with one another,
Two trees, right opposite my home.
The trees are old. The house is old
I am young, or it may well be
I would not pity the trees of others
The smaller one stretches forth its arms,
Like a woman, strains its very utmost -
It is cruel to watch how it strains
To that one, that other one which is
Older, firmer and - who is to know? -
Even more unhappy, it may well be

Two trees: in the flow of sunset
And in the rain, even under snow
Always, always: one to the other,
",until hymns are being sung over my ashes
I'll continue to sin-like I sin-
as I have sinned: with passion!"

"To separate - means to be turned into separate people:
We-are One..."

"Looking at the stars to know that
There is a star for me too,
I would smile at all eyes around me,
Not lowering my eyes!"

"I seem to walk on a frayed tight rope
I-a tiny dancer
I-the shadow of someone's shadow
I-a sleepwalker
Between two dark moons"

"You did it without evil
Innocently and irreparably
-I was your youth,
Which has passe
Big in Russia but somewhat neglected for Western audiences, which is a shame.

Tsvetaeva had a very interesting life and lived a difficult life in ways e.g. through a famine (her younger daughter starved to death in an orphanage - Marina thought she might get food there), the Russian revolution, her husband and daughter were convicted on espionage charges, she sometimes lived abroad, she committed suicide, etc.

Even though I haven't seen anyone else say so, it seems obvious to me that she is part
This is a tiny book of Tsvetaeva poems in Russian, and I've been going through and translating the poems that the girls are reading in the two Youtube videos I think are the best readings of Tsvetaeva on the internet. Even if you don't understand a word, check out:

which are six or seven poems read by this wonderful girl with a high light voice, and another girl, with a graver voice, also exactly the right delivery, doing other poems
Jason Gignac
Original Review
The first part of the 20th century was the Silver Age of Russian Poetry, the time of many of Russia's greatest poets both inside and outside the Soviet system: Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Aleksandr Blok, and lots of other folks that we, as Americans have never heard of (except for Pasternak, and that's for his novel, after all). Marina Tsvetaeva was one of these poets. Born into a well-to-do but very unstable family, and coming of age just as the Russian revolution came to fr
I read this over a period of 39 days, during which so much has happened, and these poems by Marina Tsvetaeva were almost narrating my feelings.

I want to share my favorite poems:
1. "I'm glad your sickness"
2. "Poem of the Mountain" & "Poem of the End" in one pdf

It's been a long while since I've read poems that refresh me, but as I started this, it felt like every poem-of-the-day by was also new, exciting, refreshing, I feel happy about this.

I've been crossing the Michigan Avenue Bri
One of the greatest poets of her time. I loved many of her poems from childhood, when I couldn't even understand the meaning of those. That is certainly because you could hear those poems in your favorite movies, theaters, and in your books.
Now that I am older, those poems stood in the different light to me. Absolutely love them.
I love her writing style, the depth of emotions she is so well able to describe.

Два солнца стынут, - о Господи, пощади! -
Одно - на небе, другое - в моей груди.

Как эти со
Poezia Marinei Ţvetaeva surprinde freamătul, agitaţia unui început de secol în care spiritul avangardist, înnoitor, se manifestă pe un fundal sângeros, cel al Primului Război Mondial, spirit mai apoi sufocat necruţător, în Rusia, prin deportarea şi asasinarea intelectualilor incomozi, dacă se poate spune aşa, căci, după 1917, toţi intelectuali ruşii deveniseră un potenţial pericol, aşadar incomozi. În acest context, viaţa Marinei Ţvetaeva poate constitui în sine un roman dramatic, al neşansei.

Anna Matsuyama
Мне нравится, что вы больны не мной,
Мне нравится, что я больна не вами,
Что никогда тяжелый шар земной
Не уплывет под нашими ногами.
Мне нравится, что можно быть смешной -
Распущенной - и не играть словами,
И не краснеть удушливой волной,
Слегка соприкоснувшись рукавами.

(view spoiler)
I fell in love with Tsvetajeva (the Finnish spelling) years ago while reading a thick poetry anthology. When I saw this collection in a used books store in Paris, I had to have it. These words hold such beauty and meaning, so many different feelings. She makes me feel like all exceptional poets: she knows all my secrets.
He once rode into me as if
through lands of
miracles and fire, with all
the power of poetry, and

I was: dry, sandy, without day.
He used poetry
to invade my depths, like those of
any other country!

Listen to this story of two
souls, without jealousy:
we entered one another's eyes
as if they were oases–

I took him into me as if he were
a god, in passion,
simply because of a charming tremor
in his young throat.

Without a name he sank into me. But now
he's gone. Don't search for him.
All deserts forget the thousands
Joan Lattanzio
I must have been a Russian in my previous life, or loved a Russian lover, a master of words, a conjurer of feelings.. few authors have the capacity to state -so intensely- sentiments as russians can, and I lie marveled by what I read and discover in every line, find myself moved by forces which I cannot grasp.. I also become frustrated and impatient by a desire to learn this sad, beautiful, agony-ridden language and culture. Marina comes back of the dead to haunt and guide me with her words and ...more
I didn't see much to Tsvetaeva when I first read her a year ago, but Brodsky's essays made me feel I misread her. Now I can't much believe I ever read her at all. Oh well. Brodsky's "Footnote to a Poem" is as perfect an introduction to her life and poetics as I guess there ever will be. Not much is available on her in English. One moment of clarity for me, from Brodsky:
Going through life is not the same as walking across a field [Pasternak] or Odysseus returned full of space and time [Mandelsta
"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold I know no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry." - Maria Tsvetaeva

Weariness and beauty permeate the poetry of Maria Tsvetaeva. She struggled with life and love, but endured, supported in part by fellow artists, most notably Mandelstam, Rilke and Pasternak. The poetry in this selection is arrayed in chronological order and ranges from the "starry nights, in the apple orchards of Paradise"(p 5) to the "muffled blow" of Epitaph (p 106). I
J.M. Hushour
Tsvetaeva was a remarkable poet and a remarkable person to boot, not because she could suck a golf-ball out of Gertrude Stein's backside or wrestle tapirs with Hemingway--none of this artiste crap. Rather she was an obsessive, driven sensualist poet who recognized she was at the whim of a greater force. Unfortunately for her, and this is where she is most fascinating, she was stuck in exile taking care of her kids while her Communist spy husband traipsed about Europe before getting arrested. In ...more
Tsvetaeva's poems are vividly open, clear and very easy to understand. They get you to your heart. I haven't read them in English translation though but I'm sure the translator tried to convey the feeling you get after reading the poems.
"The mountain was mourning (and mountains do mourn,
their clay is bitter, in the hours of parting).
The mountain mourned: for the tenderness
(like doves) of our undiscovered mornings."
-from "Poem of the Mountain"
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Goodreads Librari...: Book description is incorrect 3 22 Jun 23, 2013 05:18AM  
  • The Selected Poems
  • The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • The Bedbug and Selected Poetry
  • Collected Poems in English
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems, 1956-1998
  • The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems
  • The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems
  • The Garnet Bracelet, and Other Stories
  • Demon
  • Ruslan and Ludmila
  • Тёмные аллеи
  • Poems of Paul Celan
  • The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy
  • Poems New and Collected
  • Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow. Her father, Ivan Tsvetayev, was a professor of art history and the founder of the Museum of Fine Arts. Her mother Mariya, née Meyn, was a talented concert pianist. The family travelled a great deal and Tsvetaeva attended schools in Switzerland, Germany, and at the Sorbonne, Paris. Tsvetaeva started to write verse in her early childhood. She made her debut as a ...more
More about Marina Tsvetaeva...

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“And soon all of us will sleep under the earth, we who never let each other sleep above it.” 52 likes
“I opened my veins. Unstoppably
life spurts out with no remedy.
Now I set out bowls and plates.
Every bowl will be shallow.
Every plate will be small.

And overflowing their rims,
into the black earth, to nourish
the rushes unstoppably
without cure, gushes
poetry ...”
More quotes…