Three Poems

Stepan Shchipachev, who was born in 1899, is a wellknown Soviet lyric poet, winner of his country’s highest literary prize. He headed the delegation of Soviet writers in their visit to the United States last March.

Agreed that I shall die and that I must
Turn, as time passes, to a little dust.
A barefoot girl will cross the field, and I
Will stir, beyond corruption, and will seize
Tenderly with hot dust those feet of hers
That smell of daisies to her very knees.
A gust of supple wind springs up,
Tousles her hair until it flies,
Then closely drapes her dress across
Her almost girlish breasts, her thighs.
Beyond the foaming foliage
Of plum and apple tree she stands —
Surely the wind knows what it is
To have a sculptor’s happy hands.
Free my line must be and rise in celebration
Of the cosmos’ icy cold, for where
Planets fly and starry dust is blindly drifting,
The terrestrial sphere revolves in air,
For, enclosed within the quiet, azure radiance,
From as far as Mars there may be scanned,
Faintly drawn upon earth’s vaguely looming
The dim outlines of the Soviet land.
Washed by ocean waters, it has lifted mountains
To the stars; I praise it as I must:
Precious to me is the merest hoofprint on it,
And its roads, I love their very dust.

Translated by Babette Deutsch and Avrahm Yarmolinsky.