- Series: Twentieth-Century Classics
- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (January 1, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140187596
- ISBN-13: 978-0140187595
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Selected Poems (Twentieth-Century Classics) Reprint Edition
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About the Author
Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow in 1892, the daughter of a pianist and a museum curator. After enjoying a relatively secure and comfortable childhood, she published her first poems in 1910 and in 1911 married fellow poet Sergei Efron. They had two daughters before the Russian revolution broke out, and it was at that time she began to experience the turmoil and brutality of early twentieth-century Russia. During the years of famine that ensued, she was forced to place her daughters in a State orphanage, where one of them died of malnutrition. Tsvetaeva later followed her husband to Czechoslovakia, where they lived in exile until Efron’s return to Russia in 1937. Efron subsequently was arrested and died in a labor camp. Tsvetaeva returned to Russia with their son in 1939 but was driven to despair by the difficulty of finding food for the both of them, and, in 1941, she hanged herself. Along with Pasternak, Mandelstam, and Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva stands as one of the four great Russian poets of this century and is one of the most important woman writers in the Western canon.
Elaine Feinstein is a prizewinning poet and novelist and the author of highly praised biographies of Alexander Pushkin, Marina Tsvetaeva, and Ted Hughes. She lives in London.
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To be fair to the translator Feinstein, translation is extremely difficult, especially so with poetry. Yet it *can* be done well, capturing the flavor, emotion and (in exceptional cases) the sense of word-play that is so critical to this art form. I was disappointed, then, that in this instance, Tsvetaeva's voice was not captured as well as it deserves to be. I have not given up on this poet - but I cannot recommend this particular edition.
What I can say is that reading these poems I have a sense of true poetry. There is a depth of feeling and a passion, a soul being revealed in depth, a life in its sufferings and straining for beauty.
Perhaps more words are irrelevant, and I shall just give a few excerpts from the book.
From ' I know the truth'
'The wind is level now, the earth is wet with dew,
the storm of stars in the sky will turn to quiet,
And soon all of us will sleep under the earth,we
who never let each other sleep above it. '
From 'What is this gypsy passion for separation'
'that no one turning over our letters has
yet understood how completely and
how deeply faithless we are, which is
to say: how true we are to ourselves.'
From ' You loved me'
You loved me. And your lies had their own probity.
There was truth in every falsehood
Your love went far beyond any possible
boundary as no one else's could.
Your love seemed to last even longer
than time itself. Now you wave your hand-
and suddenly your love for me is over!
That is the truth in five words."
Some of my favorite quotes from segments of the book...
Because even more than God
himself I love his angels.
From: Bent with Worry
He is the one that mixes
Up the cards
And confuses arithmetic and weight
Demands answers from the school bench
Who altogether refutes Kant
From: The Poet
We entered one another's eyes
As if they were oases
All poets are Jews
Everything that I love changes from an external thing into an inward one, from the moment of my love, it stops being external (from the Introduction).
I can't attest to the authenticity of the translations, as I know little Russian, Reviews seem mixed; but Feinstein, for me, makes some engrossing connections of words that must ring true to some extent.