About the Author
Books

POETRY  
PROSE
ESSAYS
INTERVIEW
From the book Kliazma and Yauza
From the book The Wild Rose
From the book Tristan and Isolde
From the book Old Songs
From the book Gates. Windows. Arches  
From the book Stanzas in the Manner of Alexander Pope
From the book Stellae and Inscriptions
From the book The Iambic Verses
The Chinese Travelogue
From An Unfinished Book
From the book The Evening Song
From the book Elegies
From the book The Beginning of a Book
From the book Gates. Windows. Arches
(1979–1983)
Mountain Ode
1

Where the height performs itself
on a little village organ,
painting in azur before one’s very eyes
neither in a man’s or woman’s voice
but like running water
somewhere in the astonished valley
washing over the clean earthenware
of Moravia, of green Bavaria –
There, in the stone jug with bells,
the gothic flame is hidden.

2

Let the Gothic, since it is inborn,
direct its vertical vector upward
where it can freely reach its conclusion,
just as the Holy Grail once did,
just as the spearmen and stonemasons,
on the airless head of pins,
were suddenly choked by an asphyxiating hope
and did not touch that impossible cup.
The sky simply sank
like one who sleeps by the bank of a stream.

3

He sleeps, steering his dream
like a flat-bottomed boat on the rapids,
and the sound rising above the village
expires in other villages, just as lonely,
and all of them are his homeland.
To choose is impossible, and unnecessary,
rowing them across and vanishing
into existence, into that airy water
where, it’s said, we lived like all others,
as does snow in the mountains, rivers in lethargy.

4

Speak, speak in the language of Cyril,
or in one that never was,
just as leniency spoke with us,
screening the sky like a bedspread.
There are names similar to angel’s ranks.
They live like a bell in a ravine,
like the cause of an incomprehensible loyalty,
or a game without purpose,
when it soars, as if possessed of a soul,
toward the light of the guardian legion.

5

Akin neither to nearness nor distance,
the bell, rocking in its bay,
was a moment of their existence –
but in that moment they descended still lower.
Answering at times to the name of Ruth, at times to Rachel,
life watched the nearby feasts,
not knowing for what it had been raised,
nor where lay the end of its alien sadness.
The others wanted so much, but not she:
just to lie down and wait to be named.

6

To lie down and be comforted by a voice
that tilts trenches
blows gaps wide open
transforming them in the wine of the heart
so that only the sound carries you
like the sturdy wing of beginning
above the nameless, powerless precipice
that terrifies in its living gravity.
Time was going and time became word,
naming nothing except itself.

7

And the mountains – the precious planes
now visible to the unslumbering eye of ruffled lakes
standing eternally above the many-eyed ocean¬
could see how she was loved,
how she walked down the steps,
the stone thresholds, the valleys
of the thousandfold acknowledgment of patience.
And observing how she disappeared
the earth became an unbounded recurrence.

8

And she dreamt some chance dream,
an almost sad dream, of disappearance,
unknowably sad. And immediately
the dream began to ponder a redoubling of the sadness:
as if all the children who had died young
were standing over their strange grave
as over a playful brook in the month of April,
not knowing how to feel pity, how to cry.
The suffering of reflected faces
was unknown to them, unstudied.

9

And so they stood and were silent
and only drew from their chance death
all that was promised to them in vain,
all that no one in the world ever attempted
but for which everyone waits. Nursed like a baby
and weeping, it was given over to the grave:
“I am only a shadow, but nothing more is needed.
A likeness in love with likeness.
Take this shadow like a cup filled with light,
take it for yourself and then forget about it.”

10

Was it not upon such a round verticality
that I was given the gratuitous gift
sought out by the gold and, as if by a glance,
was relieved of the asphyxiating hope?
I was shown neither mysteries, nor powers, nor the abyss –
a simple tree
and it was strange to know that I would disappear
when leaves were talking with leaves
and would sleep in its deep roots,
as trees sleep by living streams.

11

All that disappears will be like a road.
Prostrate we set out on an involuntary journey
where anguish, round as an apple, peals inside our knapsacks.
Speak then, speak in the language of reward,
in the language that descends into the grave:
there is a reed pipe that reveals the buried treasure,
a sounding likeness of mercy –
the treasure, the meaning, and the mold of the likeness.

Ina Bliznetsova, Leonard Schwartz


***

1

Where solitary elevation plays
itself upon a tiny village organ,
that sounds in voices not of adults nor of women,
and where, before our eyes, the azure of the sky’s displayed –
or somewhere in an awestruck lea
that’s washed completely clean
by waters running through the green
of some Moravia or southern Germany –
there is a bouldery bowl with bells
in which a gothic flame is hidden well.

2

Let gothic as is only natural
direct its vertically vectored slope
to end in freedom up on high,
like former legends of the grail,
and let the carvers and the spearmen
atop the steeple’s needled airless end
gasp suddenly from hemmed-in hopes
without attaining the forbidden prize –
while falling to the depths, the skies
are like the one who sleeps upon the river’s side.

3

He sleeps, and in his sleep his dreams directs,
as if they were a flat boat that on rapids speeds,
and sounds are rising through the town
in equal desolation dying down
and they are wall – his native tracts.
He cannot make a choice, and there’s no need
since he can move the towns around, or in their
existence get quite lost, inside the liquor ether
where, it is said, we lived once like the others
like snow in mountains, soporific rivers.

4

O speak, O speak in any Slavic tongue
or even in a nonexistent one
of condescension’s colloquy
of how it veil-like covered up the sky.
There are some names resembling ranks.
They live in crevasses like bells
like crazy reasons for fidelity
or like a game that has no goals
when all inspired it flies
into the fires of watchful phalanx.

5

Not linked to nearness or to distance,
that bell, which vibrates in a hollow,
lasts but an instant; that they lived,
but they descended in that instant.
Like looked around, and answered first
like Ruth and then like Rachel as the feast
proceeded, not knowing why she’d been enrolled
or where to find the finish of her alienated despair.
The others wanted much, she was given
only to lay down, lie there, and be called.

6

To lie, such that a voice would soothe her,
the one that hollows out the alpine basins
and airs out skins ensuring transformation
from empty husks to wineskins.
So that upon a single sound she’d sail
as if on vibrant wings of inspiration
above abysses nameless, frail,
but in their vivid tension horrifying,
and time would pass, and time’d become the word
not naming any other thing.

7

So that the mountains – precious prairies
when they’re observed by sleepless eyes
of roiling lakes which always fly
above that many-eyed sea –
could see how loved she was as she
descended over stony thresholds
across the valleys, by the stairs,
with patience taught by thousand-fold
experience. Observing how she disappears
the land itself goes stretching to infinity.

8

And then she dreamed some sort of accidental dream,
a rather doleful dream of disappearance,
mysteriously doleful. Just an instant
and he had found a way to double dolor
as if some children who’d died premature
were standing just above their eerie sepulchre,
as if above a brook that plays midst vernal colors,
and couldn’t feel regret or scream.
In consequence the torture of reflected faces
was as unknown to them as schoolroom places.

9

And thus they stood there wordless.
From accidental death they’d only torn
all that which had been promised them in vain
which no one on this earth has really claimed
but everyone expects. And nurtures like a babe
and crying passes on into the bourne.
“I’m nothing but a shade, but I need nothing more.
A likeness which loves a likeness.
So take this shade as if it were a goblet
emitting blinding life, all else you must forget.

10

Was it not on just such a rounded slope
that I received mi unrewarded gift?
Was it not here that their glance discovered me,
like gold, relieving me of hemmed-in hope?
Not mysteries, nor powers, not a cliff –
they showed me just a simple tree.
How strange to think that I will only bide
‘til leaf begins to speak with leaf.
And then, amidst its gnarled roots, I’ll sleep,
just as the trees sleep by his river’s side.

11

Whatever disappears is like a trail.
Supine, we part on our involuntary way
where worry, rounded, apple shaped
is rolling in a plangent pail.
O speak, O speak, the tongue of accolades
the language that descends into the world of darkness:
there is a fife that opens treasure caves
recalling somehow sounds of grace,
and treasure, meaning, models of likeness.

Andrew Wachtel
Not by sea, nor by tree, nor by powerful star...
 Mountain Ode
An Old Testament Motif
The Grasshoper and the Cricket
In the Liquor Store
To Lycinius
In the desert of life… What am I saying...
On the Death of Leonid Gubanov
Meeting
Spring
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