from “Poems to Czechoslovakia”

By Marina Tsvetaeva 1892–1941 Marina Tsvetaeva

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

Black mountain

black mountain
blocks the earth’s light.
Time—time—time
to give back to God his ticket.

I refuse to—be. In
the madhouse of the inhumans
I refuse to—live. To swim

on the current of human spines.
I don’t need holes in my ears,
no need for seeing eyes.
I refuse to swim on the current of human spines.

To your mad world—one answer: I refuse.

                                      •

They took—suddenly—and took—openly—
took mountains—and took their entrails,
they took coal, and steel they took,
they took lead, and crystal.

And sugar they took, and took the clover,
they took the West, and they took the North,
they took the beehive, and took the haystack,
they took the South from us, and the East.

Vari—they took, and the Tatras—they took,
they took our fingers—took our friends—

But we stand up—
as long as there’s spit in our mouths!

May 9, 1939

Source: Poetry (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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION Russia

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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