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Marina Tsvetaeva (October 8, 1892 - 31 August 31, 1941) is considered by many to be Russia's greatest female poet, rivaled perhaps only by Anna Akhmatova. Tsvetaeva's poetry was often of a very passionate and almost obsessive nature. She writes of unrequited love and heartbreak, of her admiration for other writers, of the devastation of war, and of her generally troubled l Marina Tsvetaeva (October 8, 1892 - 31 August 31, 1941) is considered by many to be Russia's greatest female poet, rivaled perhaps only by Anna Akhmatova. Tsvetaeva's poetry was often of a very passionate and almost obsessive nature. She writes of unrequited love and heartbreak, of her admiration for other writers, of the devastation of war, and of her generally troubled life. Nonetheless, she is always able to contain this raw emotion in an extremely rigorous and disciplined form, unique only to her. Especially in her later poetry, frequent enjambments, inner rhymes, short lines, word play, and numerous allusions dominate her work. In this dual-language selection, Andrey Kneller offers his attempts to capture this distinctive style of Marina Tsvetaeva's poetry by preserving both the message and the music of the originals.


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Marina Tsvetaeva (October 8, 1892 - 31 August 31, 1941) is considered by many to be Russia's greatest female poet, rivaled perhaps only by Anna Akhmatova. Tsvetaeva's poetry was often of a very passionate and almost obsessive nature. She writes of unrequited love and heartbreak, of her admiration for other writers, of the devastation of war, and of her generally troubled l Marina Tsvetaeva (October 8, 1892 - 31 August 31, 1941) is considered by many to be Russia's greatest female poet, rivaled perhaps only by Anna Akhmatova. Tsvetaeva's poetry was often of a very passionate and almost obsessive nature. She writes of unrequited love and heartbreak, of her admiration for other writers, of the devastation of war, and of her generally troubled life. Nonetheless, she is always able to contain this raw emotion in an extremely rigorous and disciplined form, unique only to her. Especially in her later poetry, frequent enjambments, inner rhymes, short lines, word play, and numerous allusions dominate her work. In this dual-language selection, Andrey Kneller offers his attempts to capture this distinctive style of Marina Tsvetaeva's poetry by preserving both the message and the music of the originals.

30 review for My Poems...: Selected Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    Marina's my name, caprice is my way... No matter what heart, no matter what net, My will – will break through them all. See the curls that are dangling loose on my head? - I will never be turned into salt. (1920) Marina Tsvetaeva, the one born amid colors and flowers; the one that decided, immersed in despair, as usual, the last of her moments. She was gifted with a profoundly lyrical voice. She crafted that kind of poetry that mirrors every raw, unrestrained emotion. Poetry that makes the body tingl Marina's my name, caprice is my way... No matter what heart, no matter what net, My will – will break through them all. See the curls that are dangling loose on my head? - I will never be turned into salt. (1920) Marina Tsvetaeva, the one born amid colors and flowers; the one that decided, immersed in despair, as usual, the last of her moments. She was gifted with a profoundly lyrical voice. She crafted that kind of poetry that mirrors every raw, unrestrained emotion. Poetry that makes the body tingle with sensations, as the mind starts to connect the dots, to think of what has been lost, of what might never come but become memories all the same, gently haunting the depths of the subconscious, giving to its uncanny nooks a heavy brushstroke of disquiet tinged with regret. Tsvetaeva's poetry reflects an intense and rather unique lyricism, artful rhymes and keen observations on the world and its complexity just like on herself – a vulnerable position she did not even try to conceal. She was praised for the quality of her rhymes and word play. It is an enjoyable activity to analyze structures, to minutely count syllable after syllable to see how close to perfection poets may get. Whereas some people merely want to feel poetry, as they try to solve the riddles found within every verse guarded by an aura of mystique. And the only analysis they might perform relates to how to stop from feeling, once they have had enough. I - am. You - will be. An abyss between us. I drink. You thirst. In vain we try to agree... (June 6, 1918) This poet found inspiration in love; its evasive maneuvers, its complete absence. A stifling thought that would linger for a day, for decades. Love, mutually felt, unaware of any boundary, oblivious of any gender. Love, politely declined. Unkindly ignored. Love, wandering around in silence, waiting for an answer that will never come for it is impossible to ask for it. Time, wasted. Rethinking everything once more, I'm tortured and the pain persists. In this, for which I know no word, Did love exist? (October 23, 1924) She found inspiration in loss. In boredom, in jealousy. In a state of perpetual longing. In resignation. I never think or argue or whine to any one. I do not sleep. I strive for neither sea nor moon nor sun Nor for the ship. I don't perceive the warmth indoors or The greenery of grass. I don't await the gift I wished for To come at last. … (July 13, 1924) She found her muse even in cats. It's funny, poet, wouldn't you say, How hard we try to make them tame. They will not play the roles of slaves: The hearts of cats will not obey! ... (Cats) In Moscow. In several other poets she admired, whose enchanting voices also sang to the Muscovite life in general. The walls, the roads. Its magic, its doomed blood. Its idiosyncrasies, its revolutions. Everything and everyone that made her breathe so much death. Here in my Moscow, - cupolas shine. Here in my Moscow, - church bells chime. ... And you stroll along your Neva River slow, While I stand alone where my Moskva flows... With my whole insomnia, I'm in love with you, With my whole insomnia, I am harking you, While the sextons awake in the Kremlin to Carry out their morning tasks... (May 7, 1916) Among so many other things she portrayed with exceptional art and that represent particles of human condition in its entirety, she found inspiration in insomnia. Something this reader knows well and that made her think about many nights from the past, many nights to come, as a name turned into a whisper sung by chance: Feb 02, 16 * As with every collection that Kneller translated, this book includes every poem in its original language. This was another fine work that seemed to have captured the complex essence of Tsvetaeva's poetry, so I am more than grateful. ** Also on my blog. *** Photo credit: Marina Tsvetaeva in her youth / via webblack.net

  2. 4 out of 5

    d

    ¿Sera verdad que todas las mujeres intoxicadas usamos las mismas palabras? me canse de reconocerme en varios de estos poemas. Esa melancolia y al mismo tiempo esa fuerza-ternura que no se entiende de donde sale y que da un poco de miedo. No one was left at a loss! I’m happy we’ve come to part. I’m kissing you now – across The gap of a thousand yards. We’re not equal – I understand. I’m calm - for the first time. A young Derzhavin, you can’t Accept my undisciplined rhyme. I christen your frightening fl ¿Sera verdad que todas las mujeres intoxicadas usamos las mismas palabras? me canse de reconocerme en varios de estos poemas. Esa melancolia y al mismo tiempo esa fuerza-ternura que no se entiende de donde sale y que da un poco de miedo. No one was left at a loss! I’m happy we’ve come to part. I’m kissing you now – across The gap of a thousand yards. We’re not equal – I understand. I’m calm - for the first time. A young Derzhavin, you can’t Accept my undisciplined rhyme. I christen your frightening flight: Young eagle, rise in the air! You stared at the sun! – my light And delicate gaze can’t compare. I stood, more tender than those Who’ve witnessed you disappear… I’m kissing you now – across The gap of a thousand years. February 12, 1916 I'll conquer you from any land and from any sky, For the forest is my cradle and it’s where I’ll die, Because, here, on this earth, I stand - only on one foot, And because I’ll sing for you - like no other could. I’ll conquer you from any epoch, from any night, From any golden banner, from any sword in a fight, I’ll chase the dogs off the porch, toss away the key For, in this night, a dog is less loyal than me. I’ll conquer you from all others and from that one too, I’ll be no one’s wife, - you’ll be no one’s groom. I’ll win the last battle, - hush! - and pull you aside From the one, with whom, Jacob fought all night. Before I cross your arms on your chest, - I’m cursed! - And until that day, you’ll remain - just yours, This is why your wings aim for the upper sky, - For the world’s your cradle and it’s where you’ll die! August 15, 1916

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shay Caroline

    I discovered Marina Tsvetaeva's poetry quite by accident, while searching the quotes at Goodreads. Her poems are full of fire and spirit, but also longing and heartbreak. I love this: "I have been blessed with these two gorgeous/ Wings and I refuse to load my heart with weights." There are bird and sky references throughout her poems, as well as a fierce determination to love or not love on her own terms. There is a real progression here from her early poems--some written while not yet out of he I discovered Marina Tsvetaeva's poetry quite by accident, while searching the quotes at Goodreads. Her poems are full of fire and spirit, but also longing and heartbreak. I love this: "I have been blessed with these two gorgeous/ Wings and I refuse to load my heart with weights." There are bird and sky references throughout her poems, as well as a fierce determination to love or not love on her own terms. There is a real progression here from her early poems--some written while not yet out of her teens--and the later ones. As she goes along, she gains gravitas and skill, but her youthful fire, though tempered, remains. Tsvetaeva doesn't rely much on poetic imagery, metaphors and the like, but rather engages the reader in an almost conversational tone which belies the skill of her writing. The poems are brief, and often terribly poignant. The translator, Andrey Kneller, tries to retain the poetry and structure of Tsvetaeva's work, and not turn it into literally translated prose, or "stick figures" as he terms it. This is particularly important with a poet such as Tsvetaeva, because structure is crucial to her work. The original text, in Cyrillic, is on each odd-numbered page, and the English translation faces it. Recommended.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    I really wish I could understand these poems in the original language because, while the translation may have tried to keep true to Tsvetaeva's rhythms, I have read other renditions of certain poems in this collection that I much prefer. A lot of these poems kept giving me a frustrating sense of proximity to what she wanted me to feel/know/see, like trying to make out a figure in detail through frosted glass. But seldom could I break through the haze; perhaps the fault is with me. I would like t I really wish I could understand these poems in the original language because, while the translation may have tried to keep true to Tsvetaeva's rhythms, I have read other renditions of certain poems in this collection that I much prefer. A lot of these poems kept giving me a frustrating sense of proximity to what she wanted me to feel/know/see, like trying to make out a figure in detail through frosted glass. But seldom could I break through the haze; perhaps the fault is with me. I would like to try other translations despite this. Some favorites: "For Mama" "You walk, somewhat like myself..." "P.E." "In my unending city there is night... " "There's a window lit..." "My day's peculiar and mad..." "Nights without the beloved..." "An attempt at jealousy"

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    By far the absolute best translations of Tsvetaeva I've ever seen. Everything matches the original: meaning, form, sound, rhythm, rhyme, actually good poetry... You get the point. This should be the definitive translation. No translation is ever perfect, but this one is like 99.44% faithful. It's a good sample of her work as well: 67 poems ranging from 1909 to 1938. The progression of her style is pretty well represented. By far the absolute best translations of Tsvetaeva I've ever seen. Everything matches the original: meaning, form, sound, rhythm, rhyme, actually good poetry... You get the point. This should be the definitive translation. No translation is ever perfect, but this one is like 99.44% faithful. It's a good sample of her work as well: 67 poems ranging from 1909 to 1938. The progression of her style is pretty well represented.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Marina Tsvetaeva writes with a dark, yet sleek voice that enchants readers. She writes about death, and her emotions, and (especially in this collection) you can see how she grows and changes over the years. I liked that the Russian poems were included in this text, along with the english translations. My favorites were In Paris, For Mama, and Hamlet's dialogue with his conscience. Marina Tsvetaeva writes with a dark, yet sleek voice that enchants readers. She writes about death, and her emotions, and (especially in this collection) you can see how she grows and changes over the years. I liked that the Russian poems were included in this text, along with the english translations. My favorites were In Paris, For Mama, and Hamlet's dialogue with his conscience.

  7. 5 out of 5

    جاسم كلمد

    This book is beautiful, her poems are beautiful, the translation (transgression as Mr. Kneller described it) is beautiful too. I've read the penguin version of Marina's poems. I think Andrey Kneller's translation is the most closest to Marina's passionate soul. I recommend it to everyone who has passion for poetry. This book is beautiful, her poems are beautiful, the translation (transgression as Mr. Kneller described it) is beautiful too. I've read the penguin version of Marina's poems. I think Andrey Kneller's translation is the most closest to Marina's passionate soul. I recommend it to everyone who has passion for poetry.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Bittersweet This is the first time that I have read Marina Tsvetaeva's work. I was ambivalent about her early work, but entranced by her later poems, particularly the ones involving God and religion. Bittersweet This is the first time that I have read Marina Tsvetaeva's work. I was ambivalent about her early work, but entranced by her later poems, particularly the ones involving God and religion.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Antonio Delgado

    A must read poet with a particular sensibility for common objects and common poetical themes, such as the sun or a loved one. Marina Tsvetaeva expresses them differently: first reckoning their familiarity to then adding a new poetical voice.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Aletheia Solace

    Love the selected compilation

  11. 5 out of 5

    Josie

    This is the first translation of Tsvetaeva I read. The translators note at the beginning was easily the most beautiful portion and I admire the obvious dedication that went into this work on Knellers part. I found Tsevetaevas prose often beautiful and at times to be bleeding joy but the dedication of the translation to the lyric structure made me aware of the lost meaning in original Russian by conforming to the form. This is a shared issue with the Meyers O’Hara translation of the fragments of This is the first translation of Tsvetaeva I read. The translators note at the beginning was easily the most beautiful portion and I admire the obvious dedication that went into this work on Knellers part. I found Tsevetaevas prose often beautiful and at times to be bleeding joy but the dedication of the translation to the lyric structure made me aware of the lost meaning in original Russian by conforming to the form. This is a shared issue with the Meyers O’Hara translation of the fragments of Sappho, which by keeping their rhyme scheme lose a great deal of sapphos original meaning. Also I feel it’s important to mention both in this review and in translating works of - specifically European - writers, the derogatory depiction of Romani people. (Recognizable with the slur g***y). It is the responsibility as modern readers to recognize the prejudice of this term and the way it paints an, to this day, oppressed minority in a negative light. I’m currently looking for a translation of Tsevetaevas work that acknowledges and does not pardon her prejudiced views.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Maja

    "What could you know about me if We never slept or drank together?" "What could you know about me if We never slept or drank together?"

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stefani Akins

    This is a lovely little introduction to Marina Tsvetaeva's poetry, beautifully translated by Andrey Kneller. The only thing missing that would make it perfect are more comprehensive notes on the poems, but on the bright side, if -like me- you find yourself curious, perhaps you'll pick up a biography on Tsvetaeva. Now and again, it appears that a bucket of extra commas was poured out over the pages, but that's a small aside. This is a lovely little introduction to Marina Tsvetaeva's poetry, beautifully translated by Andrey Kneller. The only thing missing that would make it perfect are more comprehensive notes on the poems, but on the bright side, if -like me- you find yourself curious, perhaps you'll pick up a biography on Tsvetaeva. Now and again, it appears that a bucket of extra commas was poured out over the pages, but that's a small aside.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dave H

    Does not resonate with me. Found myself classifying her with Rimbaud and Emily Dickinson (a good class to be in, I suppose) in that I appreciate the energy and enthusiasm uncommon in literature but beyond few bright flashes I can't get into the work, find it repetitive and undeveloped, and find myself a little annoyed. Sorry Marina! Does not resonate with me. Found myself classifying her with Rimbaud and Emily Dickinson (a good class to be in, I suppose) in that I appreciate the energy and enthusiasm uncommon in literature but beyond few bright flashes I can't get into the work, find it repetitive and undeveloped, and find myself a little annoyed. Sorry Marina!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Aditya Narayan

    Lucid and Subtle This is a book of great poetry. I chose 4 because it's a little short book, there should have been more poems to keep on riding the journey we are on. Lucid and Subtle This is a book of great poetry. I chose 4 because it's a little short book, there should have been more poems to keep on riding the journey we are on.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Horrocks

    The Ilya Kaminsky translated poems are bettah

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    They tried to translate rhyming poetry from one language to another and have painfully failed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Xuan

    Marina's era was not recent, but the Kremlin still echoes her singings. Andrey's translation is decent, delivers her stanzas far beyond aspiring. Marina's era was not recent, but the Kremlin still echoes her singings. Andrey's translation is decent, delivers her stanzas far beyond aspiring.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Erika

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Fink

  21. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kim Welliver

  23. 4 out of 5

    Martin Bennett

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  25. 4 out of 5

    Philip Seifi

  26. 5 out of 5

    William G.

  27. 5 out of 5

    David

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lee buford

  30. 5 out of 5

    Oleg Gerassimenko

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