Boris Pasternak, the Nobel laureate and author of Doctor Zhivago, composed one of the world's great love poems in My Sister--Life. Written in the summer of 1917, the cycle of poems focuses on personal journeys and loves but is permeated by the tension and promise of the impending October Revolution.
Osip Mandelstam wrote: "To read the poems of Pasternak is to get one's throat clear, to fortify one's breathing. . . . I see Pasternak's My Sister--Life as a collection of magnificent exercises in breathing . . . a cure for tuberculosis." This English translation, rendered with verve and intelligence by Mark Rudman, is a heady gust that matches the intensity and power of the original Russian text.
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In Memory of the Demon
It shakes a fragrant branch
live with your photograph
A Sultry Night
How life lulls us
They will extract a price my love
The Highest Sickness
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Andrei Sinyavsky aortas ask who commands azure beams Balashov black tea blind blood Boris Pasternak Boychuk branch breath breath-taking burdocks burned burst cheeks choked clouds crossing the dusty dacha damp dark dawn door dozen from steaming drowned dusk dust dusty market ears earth enameled billboards endless eyes face of azure Feathergrass fence flies floods forehead forest gnat trapped grass gray-blue star grief groan haystack heat Highest Sickness huge garden wrestles hurl it's a sin kisses lightning lilac lips Marina Tsvetaeva Mark Rudman mirror MOOCHKAP night orchard Pasternak's poetry pine pistils poems poet pond railroad rain Riesling Rilke roar Russian Russian poetry scattered Scriabin shadow silence sing Sister—Life sleep smells snap snow song soul spiral of storm steaming portions steppe SULTRY summer teahouse tears thunder tobacco-tinged—like thought torment two-headed eagle typhus whirring spiral whistle wild willow wind windmills window wine-cork yawn