Sergei Essenin
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Sergei Essenin 343  Sergei Essenin (1895–1925) “I am the last poet of the villages” I am the last poet of the villages the plank bridge lifts a plain song I stand at a farewell service birches swinging leaves like censers The golden flame will burn down in the candle of waxen flesh and the moon a wooden clock will caw caw my midnight On the track in the blue field soon the iron guest will appear his black hand will seize oats that the dawn sowed In a lifeless and alien grip my poems will die too only nodding oats will mourn for their old master The wind will take up their neighing they will all dance in the morning soon the moon a wooden clock will caw caw my midnight “Wind whistles through the steep fence” Wind whistles through the steep fence hides in the grass a drunk and a thief I’ll end my days the light sinking in red hills shows me the path 344 Russian I’m not the only one on it not the only one plowed Russia stretches away grass and then snow no matter what part I’d come from our cross is the same I believe in my secret hour as in ikons not painted by hands like a tramp who sleeps back of a fence it will rise my inviolate savior but through the blue tattered fogs of unconfessed rivers I may pass with a drunken smile never knowing him no tear lighting up on my lashes to break my dream joy like a blue dove dropping into the dark sadness resuming its vindictive song but may the wind on my grave dance like a peasant in spring. “It’s done. I’ve left the home fields.” It’s done. I’ve left the home fields. There’ll be no going back. The green wings all over the poplars will never ring again. Without me the hunched house sinks lower. My old dog died long ago. I know God means I’m to die among the bent streets of Moscow. Sergei Essenin 345  I like the city, in its old script, though it’s grown fat with age. The gold somnolence of Asia dozes on the cupolas. But at night when the moon shines, shines, shines, the devil knows how, I take a side street, head down, into the same tavern. A lair full of din and roaring, but all night till daylight I read out poems to whores and drink with cut-throats. My heart beats faster and faster, I pick the wrong moments to say, “I’m like you, I’m lost, I can never go back.” Without me the hunched house sinks lower. My old dog died long ago. I know God means I’m to die among the bent streets of Moscow. W. S. Merwin and Olga Carlisle, 1968 ...