THE ZHIVAGO POEMS


1. HAMLET

Murmurs lull. I walk onto the stage.
Leaning on a door-post, I can glean
What will happen in my day and age
From a distant echo of a scream.

All the gloom of night is being aimed
At me through a thousand opera glasses.
Abba, Father, if you can, detain it
Take this cup from me, make sure it passes.

I admire your obstinate conception
And I do consent to play this role
But this once I ask for an exemption
As a different drama now unfolds.

But successive acts go on, unshaken.
The established ending will not yield.
In this Pharisaic horde I am forsaken.
Life, indeed, is not a romp through fields.

8. THE BREEZE

You live, whereas my days conclude.
A wailing and complaining breeze,
Is swaying cottages and trees.
Not random pines it caught by chance,
But the whole essence of the woods
In all its boundless expanse,
Like on a tranquil bay, subdued
Moored yachts are tossed into a dance.
It’s not an impudent pursuit
Or senseless wrath that has advanced,
In grief it searches words, that suit
A lullaby for you to chant.

15. WINTER NIGHT

The blizzard drifted east and west
Down hills and roads.
A candle glowed upon a desk
A candle glowed.

Like summer moths that cannot fight
The lure of flames,
The swarming flakes were breaking flight
On windowpanes.

On glass, the storm cut picturesque
Capricious codes.
A candle glowed upon a desk
A candle glowed.

The well-lit ceiling was awake
With swaying shades
Of crisscrossed arms, and crisscrossed legs
And crisscrossed fates.

Two dainty boots fell to the floor
With thump and bounce
Wax, like a lantern's tears, ignored
Dripped on the gown.

All was erased by snow's caress
Pale darkness flowed.
A candle glowed upon a desk,
A candle glowed.

In drafty gusts the candle winked,
And searing passion
Flared up its two angelic wings
In cross-like fashion.

That February without rest
It snowed, and snowed
A candle glowed upon a desk,
A candle glowed.

23. MAGDALENE

My demon visits every night
Extracting payment for my past.
My heart is haunted, petrified
By memories of sinful lust
When I, enslaved by whims of men,
Was like a simpleton possessed
The dirt of sidewalks in my den.

The final minutes gently pace
A deathly hush will soon descend.
But long before they tick away
I'll reach the precipice, and then
My life, this alabaster vase,
I'll smash before you with my hands

Oh where would I have been today,
Please tell me Teacher, tell me Savior,
If nightly during my soirees
Eternity would not have stayed,
Just like a client falling prey
Into my nets of lewd behavior.

Explain to me the depth of vice,
And death, and sulphurous fires, and horror,
When unashamed of many eyes
I clung to you, like quivering vines
Entwine a tree in endless sorrow.

So Jesus, when your feet are raised
Upon my knees, perhaps it’s true
Perhaps I'm learning to embrace
The cross's grim four-sided face
And swooning, to your flesh I hasten,
Preparing now to bury you.