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February by Boris Pasternak. My translation

To take black ink and write like crying
about February spleen
while snow's melting out loud
in lines of burning spring and sleet.

To take a cab, transcend through air-ringing,
through chimes,
through clanking of the hooves
into the land where showers are leaning
against the roofs.

Where like enchanted charred pears
thousands of rooks will sway
into the puddles and will shatter
dry sadness of your eyes away.

There are black gaps in melted snow
and wind with croaking screeches throbs,
the more spontaneous the better
poems are composed.

Last few words: 
I worked on it for three months on and off. I hope you hear the iambic meter Look at the first and third lines, with extra syllabus. It makes the rhythmic pattern more complex, less repetitive and beautiful.
Editing stage: 


Spleen means sadness
It's not a very common word in English


author comment

I enjoyed reading all along, the internal logic is consistent and great, Keep writing.


It is my translation only and an exercise to stay in meter suggested by the original


author comment

I can't comment on iambic meter because I struggled with it a lot while trying to write a sonnet....however thanks for the effort to translate the poem into English which is not easy especially by also maintaining a good rhythm...i especially liked the last stanza...

raj (sublime_ocean)

Thank you


author comment

I happen to have recently found at a used book store a collection called "Fifty Poems" of Pasternak translated by his sister, Lidia Pasternak Slater. Februrary is the first poem in the collection. She comments in the notes that before his numerous revisions of this poem, the "black spring" was referring to ."where showers are blacker still than ink and tears" and it referred to the slush "that giant black cauldrons in Moscow like those used for heating asphalt made the slush black when melted." Her final stanza reads

Beneath-the earth is black in puddles,
The wind with croaking screeches throbs,
And-the more randomly, the surer
Poems are forming out of sobs.

That can be compared to AZ Foreman's translation, the one in most used in anthologies:

A thaw patch blackens underfoot.
The wind is gutted with a scream.
True verses are the most haphazard,
Rhyming the heart out on a theme.

and yours:

There are black gaps in melted snow
and wind with croaking screeches throbs,
the more spontaneous the better
poems are composed.

Translations are the most difficult of tasks. I speak no Russian and sadly connot grasp the depth of the poem, it's inner music, rhyme scheme and all the rest. I like your translation, it is different in meter from the other two which have strictly counted syllable counts for each line, but all use a ABCB rhyming. Their ryhmes are very dirrect, yours are occassionally slant rhymes (speen/ sleet, throbs/composed) I have no way of knowing if this imitates the original. Your version seems a little more modern and free versed than the other 2 above. I don't think it's possible to translate a poem without putting yourself into it.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

Hello Mark, yes my rhymes are less precise than the original poem. But my cadence is closer to the original at least it is how I hear my translation. It is mostly aimbic tetramer with extra syllabus at the end of the first and third lines.
Thank you for detailed comment and comparisons. This is one of my favorite poems.
The first stanza of my translation is closer to the original by meaning I think.
Also the original repeats the verb to take in the first and second stanzas to take ink and to take a cab, so I noticed that and preserved in my translation.


author comment

Iambic eh? Yes some is,I've marked it up for you. Something important to consider is that although meteris not strict, even Shakespeares mucks about with it, the number of feet per line is as important as the type of feet, my code for markup as before-

I=Iamb, A=Anapaest, T=Trochee, D=Dactyl, Am=Amphibrach, S=Spondee, P=Pyrrhic, C=Catalexis, ~ = Caesura, [x= feet per line] (exclamation marks indicate perfect meter)

To take/ black ink/ and write/ like cry/ing [4I, C]
about/ Febru/ary/ spleen [I, T, I, C]
while snow's/ melting/ out loud [I, T, I]
in lines/ of burn/ing spring/ and sleet. [4I !]

To take/ a cab/, transcend/ through air/-ringing, [4I. T]
through chimes,/ [I]
through clank/ing of/ the hooves  [3I !]
into/ the land/ where show/ers are lean/ing [3I, A, C]
against/ the roofs./ [2I]

Where like/ enchant/ed charr/ed pears [4I !]
thousands/ of rooks/ will sway [T, 2I]
into/ the pudd/les and/ will shatt/er [4I, C]
dry sad/ness of/ your eyes/ away. [4I !]

There are/ black gaps/ in melt/ed snow [4I !]
and wind/ with croak/ing screech/es throbs, [4I !]
the more/ spontan/eous/ the betT/er [4I, C]
poems/ are composed. [T, A]

Not bad, 8 lines of Iambic Tetrameter amongst 17, but with 3 good Trimeters and translation must be an unholily diffficult process.

I bet that shits you to tears, and you may disagree but the important lesson is that meter is almost unrecognidable unless you stick not to just a type of metric foot but the count of feet per line.

Neopoet is a workshop. Poets take the time to read and think about your work and offer suggestions.
There is no obligation to make any changes however please acknowledge critique and comments.

No tears. It's okay. I was trying to be close to Pasternak rhytmic structure


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