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Past One O'Clock -- Vladimir Mayakovsky

Guest poem submitted by J.T. Tatur :
(Poem #1531) Past One O'Clock
 Past one o'clock. You must have gone to bed.
 The Milky Way streams silver through the night.
 I'm in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
 I have no cause to wake or trouble you.
 And, as they say, the incident is closed.
 Love's boat has smashed against the daily grind.
 Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
 to balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
 Behold what quiet settles on the world.
 Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
 In hours like these, one rises to address
 The ages, history, and all creation.
-- Vladimir Mayakovsky

This poem is for all those who have recently been through a break-up.

When my girlfriend split up with me, a dear friend of mine sent me this
poem. She explained that it had been Mayakovsky's last poem; he had it in
his pocket when he committed suicide. But unlike Mayakovsky, she assured me,
I would get over it.

Biographical point: Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky born July 7, 1893 in
Bagdadi, Georgia; died April 14, 1930 in Moscow, Russia (U.S.S.R.)

What matters to me most: When the Russian Revolution broke out, Mayakovsky
was wholeheartedly for the Bolsheviks. Later, he grew disillusioned as the
Revolution's ideals were smashed 'against the daily grind' and criticised
the Party aggressively. He took his own life at the age of 36.

47 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Phoebe Zemler said...

This particular passage of Mayakovsky's suicide note is quite watered down from the original. This summary doesn't have nearly the the intensity as it deserves.

Here's his suicide poem. The original:


She loves me-loves me not.
My hands I pick
and having broken my fingers
fling away.
So the first daisy-heads
one happens to flick
are plucked,
and guessing,
scattered into May.
Let a cut and shave
reveal my grey hairs.
Let the silver of the years
ring out endlessly !
Shameful common sense -
I hope, I swear -
Will never come
to me.


It's already two.
No doubt, you've gone to sleep.
In the night
The Milky Way
with silver filigrees.
I don't hurry,
and there is no point in me
waking and disturbing you
with express telegrams.


The sea goes to weep.
The sea goes to sleep.
As they say,
the incident has petered out.
The love boat of life
has crashed on philistine reefs
You and I
are quits.
No need to reiterate
mutual injuries,
and griefs.


D'you see,
In the world what a quiet sleeps.
Night tributes the sky
with silver constellations.
In such an hour as this,
one rises and speaks
to eras,
and world creation.


I know the power of words, I know words' tocsin.
They're not the kind applauded by the boxes.
From words like these coffins burst from the earth
and on their own four oaken legs stride forth.
It happens they reject you, unpublished, unprinted.
But saddle-girths tightening words gallop ahead.
See how the centuries ring and trains crawl
to lick poetry's calloused hands.
I know the power of words. Seeming trifles that fall
like petals beneath the heel-taps of dance.
But man with his soul, his lips, his bones.



Anthony Murphy said...

And all these years I thought I knew the truncated translation of Mayakovsky's 'Past One O'Clock' was the real thing translated by George Reaveyin the 1960 Meridian Book.

I was about to go to university when I purchased the book - could hardly afford it but had to have it. In all these years I an now pushing 71 nothing I have read matches this poem on the theme of love lost.

I once travelled with a Russian Diplomat at the height of the 'Cold War'. I spoke with him about Mayakovsky's poetry. He said "Translate Mayakovsky? It's not possible" He was a cultured man as you might expect. Perhaps he was wrong. I do not read Russian or speak it, but for the poetry of Mayakovsky I yearn to do so even now.

Pasternak gave Mayakovsky high Praise and said the people wept at his death. Is this so. May I ask if you are Russian? Is your translation the 'real thing'. Please do not think me impertinent for asking. This is a poen I treasure. Was it for Lili Brik?

kindest regards,
Tony Murphy.

DUtvich said...

...looking at your version of "love's boat smashed". There is a better
translation. I have carried it for 38 years. Should I send it?

Irina Pertsel said...

I am Russian, if you want to know, and I studied some introduction to translation at school. At some point I collected 3 different translations of Alice in Wonderland in Russian. Translation of creative literature, where an author plays with and around the words is hugely complicated. Just because you can't have it all: even if if you harnessed double meanings of some words, it's the order of words and various forms of words, cultural, historical links that add to the general impression too! And if on top of that you want to ryme it... - forget it! It's easier for you, reader, to learn russian yourself! Mayakovsky is so hugely creative! Plus he uses slang, strong language, abbreviations, etc. For example, Milky Way should be actually something like Mil-Way, as he used abrreviation in the original poem. I beleive to add a link to the fact that he is, ironicaly for this poem, "a poet of revolution". Conclusion - sorry, this poem is average-good (it misses some parts too), and no, not the same as original at all.

کشاورزی said...

And ultimately, what is the translation of this poem closest to the original? I am Persian-speaking and like to translate Mayakovsky into my native language, though I think much is lost in translation!

TedS said...

Dear DUtvich, if you are still reading this blog, please post the better translation.

Cheap Viagra Online said...

I think that it is a way great to see thing when it is about a fight. I prefer to avoid them instead to do something even bigger.

Anonymous said...

show the summary and critical appreciation of the poem past one o' clock by vladimir Mayakovsky

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