Saturday Apr 13

Annie Finch is the author or editor of fifteen books of poetry, translation, and criticism.  Her works of poetry include Eve (1997), Calendars (2003), The Encyclopedia of Scotland (1982, rpt. 2005),  The Complete Poems of Louise Labé (2006), and Among the Goddesses: An Epic Libretto in Seven Dreams (2009). She has published extensively on women's poetics, most recently The Body of Poetry: Essays on Women, Form, and the Poetic Self (2005)in the Poets on Poetry Series from University of Michigan Press, and is the founder of WOM-PO, the Discussion of Women's Poetics listserv.  She lives in Maine, where she directs Stonecoast, the low-residency MFA program at the University of Southern Maine.  The libretto excerpt included here is from Marina, an opera based on the life of Marina Tsvetaeva, which premiered in 2003 from American Opera Projects with music by Deborah Drattell.
kline-photo.jpg George L. Klinehas written on such Western thinkers as Spinoza, Vico, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Whitehead; such East European thinkers as Lukacs and Kolakowski; and a number of Russian thinkers and poets. Among his books are Religious and Anti-Religious Thought in Russia (1968). He has edited Alfred North Whitehead: Essays on His Philosophy (1963) and European Philosophy Today (1965). His translations include Tolstoy's "A History of Yesterday" (1949, rpt. 1959, 1964, 1973, 1991), Zenkovsky's A History of Russian Philosophy (2 vols., 1953, rpt. 2003), Boris Pasternak: Seven Poems (1969, 2nd ed. 1972), and Joseph Brodsky: Selected Poems (1973).  His translations of Pasternak, Tsvetaeva, Voznesensky, and Brodsky have appeared in such publications as TriQuarterly, Russian Review, Russian Literature TriQuarterly, Partisan Review, New York Review of  Books, Los Angeles Times, Times Literary Supplement, and New Yorker.  Kline is Nahm Professor Emeritus of Philosophy (Bryn Mawr College) and Adjunct Research Professor of History (Clemson University).  He lives in Anderson, SC.

                                    Александрийские чертоги
                                    Покрыла сладостная тень
Уже целовала Антония мертвые губы,
Уже на коленях пред Августом слезы лила...
И предали слуги. Грохочут победные трубы
Под римским орлом, и вечерняя стелется мгла.
И входит последний плененный ее красотою,
Высокий и статный, и шепчет в смятении он:
«Тебя - как рабыню... в триумфе пошлет пред собою...»
Но шеи лебяжьей все так же спокоен наклон.
А завтра детей закуют.О, как мало осталось
Ей дела на свете - еще с мужиком пошутить
И черную змейку, как будто прощальную жалость,
На смуглую грудь равнодушной рукой положить.
                           “A sensuous, beckoning shadow
                           lingered Near Alexandria’s lush halls.”  —Pushkin
She’s already kissed her cold Antony, on his dead lips.
She’s already kneeled down in front of Augustus and cried.
Now she is betrayed by the servants: victorious trumpets
Sound under the Eagle of Rome while the darkness spreads wide.
The last of her beauty's tall conquests comes in, his voice grave.
His stammering whisper enfolds her as he bends to say,
"They'll lead you past him in the Triumph--you, like a slave. . ."
Her throat, like the neck of a swan, keeps its tranquil sway.
Tomorrow, the children in chains. There’s so little remaining
For her in the world: just to banter once more with this man,
Then take the black snake in a gesture like pity and bring
It up to her dark breast at last, with a casual hand.

Cleopatra" is one of three poems in amphibrachs by Akhmatova, translated by Annie Finch and George Kline. You can read the other two, "Lot's Wife" and "The White Bird," in the Russian-U.S. journal Cardinal Points HERE, along with a brief essay about the translations.