for those who wait

Yevgeny Yevtushenko is perhaps the best-known poet of post-Stalinist Russia. "The Third Snow" was written in 1953; with its publication, Yevtushenko became a spokesman for the generation of young Russians who came of age in the 50s. Although this poem (like much of Yevtushenko's writing) has obvious political undercurrents, it is deeply personal and specific. It means more to me than I could ever say.

The Third Snow

We watched through the window how the lime trees
darkened in the back of the yard.
We sighed; again it hadn't snowed,
and it was really high time.

And then the snow started toward evening.
Abandoning altitude
it flew where the wind blew it
and wavered with doubt in the air.

Multilayered and fragile,
it was itself embarrassed and confused.
Tenderly we took it in our hands
and wondered: "Where did it go?"

It reassured us: "There will be
a real snowfall here for you.
Don't worry--I'll melt,
don't be upset--I'm on my way . . ."

A new snow came in a week.
Not a snowfall--a deluge,
pounding our eyes like a blizzard,
reeling clamorously at full power.

In its stubborn intransigence
it wanted to win a victory,
so everyone agreed it was good
only for a day or two.

But itself reckoning it was that kind,
it didn't stand its ground and gave up,
and if it didn't melt in your hands
it began to thaw underfoot.

And all the more often with alarm
we stared again at the horizon:
"When will there be the real one?
After all it has to come."

And somehow rising sleepily in the morning,
still knowing nothing,
in astonishment we suddenly stepped
into it through the opened door.

It lay before us deep and pure
with all its soft simplicity.
It was modestly fluffy
and assuredly deep.

It lay on the ground and on the roofs,
stunning everyone with its whiteness,
and was truly magnificent,
and was truly beautiful.

It snowed on in the morning din,
to the drone of cars and horses' snorts,
and didn't melt underfoot,
but only became more compact.

It lay all fresh and shining,
and the city was blinded by it.
It was the one. The real one.
The snow we'd waited for had come.

translated by Albert C. Todd

:dianamuse; olga volchkova, pruzhina flickr


Jen said...

I love Yevtushenko, and those photos are truly amazing.

I also love the lyrics of Bulat Odkujava - are you familiar with him? Many of his songs, to me, are the heart and soul of that era.

P said...

I just read this now - how did I miss it? And how did I not know about this beautiful poet? Thank you for sharing this. I love it.

paris parfait said...

I love his poetry and his books. Did you read "Don't Die before You're Dead?" Thanks for this.