from “An Attempt at Jealousy”

By Marina Tsvetaeva 1892–1941 Marina Tsvetaeva

New versions from the Russian by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine Read the translator's notes

How is your life with that other one?
Simpler, is it? A stroke of the oars
and a long coastline—
and the memory of me

is soon a drifting island
(not in the ocean—in the sky!)
Souls—you will be sisters—
sisters, not lovers.

How is your life with an ordinary
woman? without the god inside her?
The queen supplanted—

How do you breathe now?
Flinch, waking up?
What do you do, poor man?

“Hysterics and interruptions—
enough! I’ll rent my own house!”
How is your life with that other,
you, my own.

Is the breakfast delicious?
(If you get sick, don’t blame me!)
How is it, living with a postcard?
You who stood on Sinai.

How’s your life with a tourist
on Earth? Her rib (do you love her?)
is it to your liking?

How’s life? Do you cough?
Do you hum to drown out the mice in your mind?

How do you live with cheap goods: is the market rising?
How’s kissing plaster-dust?

Are you bored with her new body?
How’s it going, with an earthly woman,
with no sixth sense?

                                                         Are you happy?
No? In a shallow pit—how is your life,
my beloved? Hard as mine
with another man?

1924

Source: Poetry (March 2012).

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2012
 Marina  Tsvetaeva

Biography

Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva (also Marina Cvetaeva and Marina Tsvetayeva) was born in Moscow. Her father was a professor and founder of the Museum of Fine Arts, and her mother, who died of tuberculosis when Marina was 14, was a concert pianist. At the age of 18 Tsvetaeva published her first collection of poems, Evening Album. During her lifetime she wrote poems, verse plays, and prose pieces; she is considered one of the most . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Heartache & Loss

POET’S REGION Russia

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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