MARINA TSVETAEVA

 

The great Russian poet Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva committed
suicide by hanging at Elabuga on the 31st August, 1941. Her
grave is not known, but her work knows no place nor death.

 

I

How easy it is to say yes,
The inevitable, proper, necessary yes
That the world asks of itself
And says over and over, yes,
Yes, that is how things are.
This is a table. This is a chair.
This is how the world is.

 

II

How difficult to say no,
The unthinkable, unsaid no.
But to say no and to say yes,
I, too, am a German,
A White, a Czech, I, too,
To say no to the no itself
And no to the yes – is it possible?
To be contrary, free, and at one,
A shadow ripe with its light?

 

III

To have nothing, to be nothing,
To be the nullity that you breathe,
To have here no friend or place,
To talk only to a wall, to yourself,
To the bleak emptiness of a bare room,
A bowed head in a dark place
Saying and unsaying itself.

 

IV

Yet still, and still, underneath
The yes, the yes that you ache and breathe
And dare not, to cry yes,
The twisted yes of your being
And being here that says yes,
Yes to the tight-lipped mouth,
To a throat hoarse with not speaking.
After it all, to say yes,
To come to yourself and your own.

 

V

How much they ask it of you,
The yes that the stone repeats and desires,
In the prison you built for yourself,
The walls that you are yourself,
That you sense and draw about you,
And the rope you measure and twist,
The rope that says yes at last.

 

VI

Let me repeat it for you.
I, too, am a German,
A White, a Czech. I, too.
And you also are needed. Always.
When the house of life shall be built,
In the house that is straight and full,
You shall come into your own,
A shut spring of gathered light,
The wall shadow thick with fruit.

 

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