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)
In the desert of life… What am I saying,
in what desert? In a well-lit house,
where friends come together and talk
about what ought to be said. Another thing
sounds out anyway, and does so of its own accord,
like the tree nodding from behind the pane.
In the garden with hospitable, salutary,
sad roses: their light soul
blooms in Elysium, but here does not know
how to look out from furled petals.
How to show the flowering that has no reason
and the music that has made sound grow thin,
how to tell about what will happen later,
that’s best of all… In the garden by the roses,
everybody’s guest – and all the same in the desert,
in the desert of our life, in its unfortunate
thinness, nobody can see –
You were more than I can tell.

Neither my reason nor my obscure tongue,
I know, will ever touch
that which they want to. That’s not the point.
We are all, my friend, worthy of compassion
if only for having tried. He who created us
will say why we are like this,
and will make us the way he wants us.
And if it’s not so… To find the places
of the inaudible music: its constellations, chains,
the burning interweavings of happiness,
in which this music has come together,
as in a resolution – this whole great play,
which has been played through. A long pedal note.
A profound and restful hand
would lie there powerfully, drawing in evening
from the piano keys… Yes, that would be better
than the tinny complaints of separation
and the guilty conscience… I’m so afraid.
But surely it’s true that there is something untrue
in these moanings? One ought to bring
the end into the world with the hands of consolation
and as if in furs, in the priceless creation
wrap remorse, so that it
won’t grow stiff – poor, alien thing…
But that it should go on and on, like beauty,
a melody made from kindness and power.
You see, I am repeating You…

Gerald S. Smith

***

In the wasteland of life... What am I saying,
in what wasteland? In the brightly-lit house,
where friends meet together and talk
of what has to be said. Whilst something else
makes sounds in any case, all by itself,
like a tree waving beyond a window;
in a garden of friendly, beneficent,
melancholy roses: their weightless souls
flower in Elysium, but here they don’t know
how to peer out of the constricting petals
and show off their flowering beyond all cause,
or their music that hones sound fine.
or how to relate what will happen later,
and is better than anything... In the garden of roses,
at home with everyone – but in a wasteland, still,
the wasteland of our life – in its drought
of sadness, no-one can see –
You were more than I can relate.

I know my reason and this stifled sound won’t reach
What they both want to. The point is something else.
All of us, my friend, deserve someone’s pity
for our efforts, if for nothing else. Who made us can say
why we are as we are, and make what he wants to of us.
And if that’s not so... Then the thing is to find the place
where music exists beyond sound, in constellations
and chains,
and threads of happiness tightened to smouldering
friction;
to find the place where that music will swell
to its resolution – when the whole great work
has been played to its end; with the sustaining pedal.

Where hands move powerfully and calmly
and deeply downwards, drawing in all
they can from the keys... Yes, that would be better
than to hear the tinny tantrums of parting,
of conscience diseased... I am so afraid.
But it’s still true that there’s something false
in complaints like this, isn’t there? Then let the
ending point
be brought to life in the arms of consolation,
swaddled in priceless repentance, like furs,
so the poor, strange thing isn’t numbed by cold,
but goes on, forward and forward, like beauty,
or a melody blending sweetness and strength.
You see, I am saying what You did...

Catriona Kelly
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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