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Two Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva

ARS POETICA

I was born with a song in my tongue—but would
not waste it for a phony chasuble or hood.

I dream—not in bed—but in full day, awake,
and can’t live like you with chitchat of a snake.

I come from you, lyre, my lyre, and my voice
and chitchat are your swanlike curve and hiss.

I’m an ally of the laurel, the wind and dawn,
and would rather be happy: I am no nun,

and have a friend who is blond—maybe a rat,
but I stick with him when everything is bad.

I come from you, lyre, my lyre, and my voice
and chitchat are your swanlike curve and hiss.

They say to be a woman is a heavy fate.
I wouldn’t know. I never take my weight.

I freely give—but never sell my goods to you,
and now that my fingernails are turning blue

my death rattle and eagle scream and wheeze,
lyre, my lyre, are your swanlike curve and hiss.

IN MY IMMENSE CITY

In my immense city it is night.
I walk from the house muffled tight
in sleep where they say daughter? wife?
but I remember one thing—the night.

Before me a sweeping July wind
and in some window a hint of song.
Tonight the wind will blow till dawn,
blow through my breasts. They are very thin.

A black poplar, and in the window
a lightbulb; chiming on the tower and
a flower in my hand. Shadow
and steps follow no one. There is no

me. Lights! like strings of gold beads.
The taste of a small nocturnal leaf.
Free me from the mouth of day. Friends, please,
try to understand: I am your dream.

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