A blind man was riding an unheated train

By Arseny Tarkovsky 1907–1989 Arseny Tarkovsky

Translated from the Russian by Philip Metres & Dimitri Psurtsev Read the translator's notes

A blind man was riding an unheated train,
From Bryansk he was traveling home with his fate.

Fate whispered to him so the whole car could hear:
And why should you care about blindness and war?

It’s good, she was saying, you’re sightless and poor.
If you were not blind, you’d never survive.

The Germans won’t kill you, you’re nothing to them.
Allow me to lift that bag on your shoulder—

The one with the holes, the empty torn one.
Let me just raise your eyelids wide open.

The blind man was traveling home with his fate,
Now thankful for blindness. Happy about it.

NOTES: Written in a cargo train, between Bryansk and Zhivodovka, 1943

Source: Poetry (June 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2011


Arseny Tarkovsky is one of the leading Russian poets to emerge from the Soviet era, though during most of his life- time he was known for translations of Asian poetries. His son Andrei Tarkovsky’s films gave his verse a second life.

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Poems by Arseny Tarkovsky

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Couplet, Rhymed Stanza

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