Nikolai Zabolotsky, p.1


A tree grows, reminiscent
Of a natural wooden column.
It sprouts members
Dressed in round leaves.
A congregation of such trees
Makes up a wood, a forest, a grove.
But the definition of a forest is imprecise
When we point out just its formal structure.

A cow’s fat body,
Put on its four finials,
Crowned with a temple-like head
And a pair of horns (like the moon in its first quarter),
Would also be unclear,
Would also be unfathomable
If we forget about its significance
On the map of this world’s living beings.

The house, a ligneous construction,
Put together as a cemetery of trees,
Constructed as a tabernacle of cadavers,
Akin to a gazebo of the dead,—
To whom of the mortals would it be intelligible,
To whom of the living would it be accessible,
If we forget a man,
Who had it cut and built.

A man, the planet’s sovereign,
The ruler of the wooden forest,
The emperor of cow meat,
The Sebaoth of a two-story house,—
He governs the planet,
He clears the woods,
He slaughters the cow,
But cannot utter a word.

But I, a monotonous man,
Took up to my mouth a shining pipe,
Blew, and, obedient to breath,
The words flew out into the world, becoming objects.
The cow cooked my porridge,
The tree read me a tale,
And the dead houses of the world
Jumped as if they were alive.