A poet whose translations of Shakespeare are the best in Russian and whose novel, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO,is still a subject of controversy, Boris Pasternak is in the front rank of contemporary Soviet writers.

You were the be-all in my destiny.
Then came the war, the devastation,
And for a long, long time there was
No word from you, not even a sign.

And after many, many years
I find again your voice disturbs me.
All night I read your testament —
And found my consciousness returning.

I’m drawn to people, to be one of a crowd,
To share their morning animation!
I’m ready to smash everything to smithereens
And make all kneel in schoolboy penance.

And so I dash down all the stairs
As if this were my first sortie
Into these streets and their deep snow
And pavements that long since died out.
Each way I turn I see awakenings, lights, comfort.
Men gulp their tea, they hurry to catch trolleys.
Within the space of a few minutes
You’d never recognize the town.

The blizzard weaves its nets in gateways
Out of the thickly falling flakes.
And all, to get to work in time,
Dash madly, hardly taking breakfast.

I feel for all these people
As if I’d been within their hides;
I feel I’m melting, even as the snow melts,
I feel I glower, even as the morning glowers.

The nameless ones are part of me.
Children also, the trees, and stay-at-homes.
All these are victors over me —
And therein lies my sole victory.

Translated by Bernard Guilbert Guerney.