Marina Tsvetaieva

Aviary Photo_130585482826196944the spirit is my beloved. To come to things—swift
as a ray of light, or a look.
To live as I write: spare—the way
God asks me—and friends do not.
Tsvetaieva, Marina (1919)
New versions from the Russian by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine.
You can also go to the  poetry foundation site to read the translators’ notes.



I wanted to share my poetry with those who do not speak French with a link going to an English version. I have developed my appreciation of poetry in English, after many years of living in an English speaking country.  The two languages are so different when it comes to poetry! Listening Richard Burton reciting the poems of Dylan Thomas helped me to understand  the rhythm of the English language. But the mechanisms of poetry are so complex that the process inevitably leads to many questions. So when I wrote Amertume (Bitterness, in English), the writing of this poem was guided by a play on words based on the use of the adjective amer  and the noun amertume. Amer, in the first line, amer, tu, in the second, and amer, tu, me, in the third line , for tu and  me  are pronouns in French. I could not reproduce it in English, and when I translated the poem in Englishamer, tu vois tout faux, became everything is wrong in your bitter eye.  I lost the pun, but I  gained a strong image  between bitter and eye. Whatever my desire to remain faithful,  the poem must “sound” good. It is always difficult to translate, but this process has created a unique creative space that increases my admiration for translators and the constant  tension between rigor and creativity in which they have to work, which requires exceptional qualities (nod my favorite translator, Catherine).

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