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March -- Boris Pasternak

Guest poem submitted by Suresh Ramasubramanian:
(Poem #419) March
The sun is hotter than the top ledge in a steam bath;
The ravine, crazed, is rampaging below.
Spring -- that corn-fed, husky milkmaid --
Is busy at her chores with never a letup.

The snow is wasting (pernicious anemia --
See those branching veinlets of impotent blue?)
Yet in the cowbarn life is burbling, steaming,
And the tines of pitchforks simply glow with health.

These days -- these days, and these nights also!
With eavesdrop thrumming its tattoos at noon,
With icicles (cachectic!) hanging on to gables,
And with the chattering of rills that never sleep!

All doors are flung open -- in stable and in cowbarn;
Pigeons peck at oats fallen in the snow;
And the culprit of all this and its life-begetter--
The pile of manure -- is pungent with ozone.
-- Boris Pasternak
(attributed to Yurii Andreivich Zhivago).

Translation has rendered this poem (originally written in Russian, like the
classic novel in which it appeared) into blank verse.  It still retains much of
its original beauty.  The unusual imagery is what grabbed me - contrasting
winter (disease and suffering) with spring (health, youth).  It is a metaphor
for the whole book, I feel.

Zhivago's poems are all listed as an appendix (and there is a long note by
Pasternak in the middle of the text about how Zhivago's poems evolve in style -
from long, rambling blank verse to short, sharp poems with a staccato rhythm,
just three words to a line).  They also reflect his changing moods and fortunes.

On the whole, Zhivago is an excellent book, and the poems at the end are the
icing on the cake.  Every time I read the book (and the poems) I keep hearing
"Lara's Theme" from the David Lean movie.  Everything comes together into one
glorious whole.


17 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Martin DeMello said...

> With icicles (cachectic!) hanging on to gables,

cachectic (kake.ktik), a. Of or pertaining to cachexy; affected
with or characterized by cachexy or a bad state of body.


cachexy (kake.ksi) 'A depraved condition of the body, in which nutrition is
everywhere defective.' Syd. Soc. Lex.

So now we know <g>

Lovely word, incidentally - 4 'c's in 9 letters; almost as good as scacchic
(pertaining to chess) and far less 'obviously' c-dense.


Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

On 5 May 2000, Martin Julian DeMello saw fit to inform me that:

> Lovely word, incidentally - 4 'c's in 9 letters; almost as good as
> scacchic (pertaining to chess) and far less 'obviously' c-dense.

One of my favorite scrabble words :)

Amit Chakrabarti said...

COCCIC, if you wanna stick to OSPD.

Amit Chakrabarti said...

* Suresh Ramasubramanian () [000505 06:59]:

Which? Scacchic? Not acceptable in either OSPD or OSW.
Therefore, not a scrabble word.

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

not scacchic. cachectic. ~that's~ valid imho.

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