Poem (1923)

It may be that a better way

to conquer time and world

is to pass and not to leave a trace—

to pass, and not to leave a shadow

 

on the walls… To be, but by denial:

to break both mirror and reflection.

To ride the Caucasus like Lermontov

and not to wake the rocks.

 

It may be that the better art

is with the hand of Bach

to leave the organ undisturbed—

to vanish, not to leave a cinder

 

for the urn … To be, but by deceit:

to strike yourself from latitudes.

to slip through time as through the sea

and not to break the waves.

 

Marina Tsvetaeva May 14, 1923

Translation by Paul Schmidt, The Stray Dog Cabaret (2007)

 

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