In Translation: Poem by Mikhail Aizenberg

Mikhail Aizenberg, a prominent contemporary Russian poet, is author of ten books of poetry and five books of essays. This untitled poem is translated from the Russian by Boris Kokotov. The original follows the English translation.

Wenches press on like Birnam Wood.
Cohorts of brides, solemn and brute—
such a spectacular rally!
Knuckles and rods swing under skirts,
shoulders and hips look equally broad—
built not for ballet.

Behind them comes a friendly convoy
ready to crush any clutter.
Colorful labels like a swarm of wasps
fiercely attack the crowd.

New-fangled seeds were recklessly sown.
The city, that was in a casino won,
shall see some action:
shaking off fetters, breaking through bars
powerful daughters of centaurs and mares
call for destruction.


Девки идут как Бирнамский лес.
Ротами, ярмарками невест
строятся без указки.
Пляшут набедренные узлы,
ходят шарниры из-под полы.
Видно, что не гимнастки.

Следом народный идет конвой,
их добровольный пленник,
гонит на них как осиный рой
ворох цветных наклеек.

Новое высеяно зерно.
Город, выигранный в казино,
высмотрит напоследок,
как разрушительницы границ,
дети кентавров и кобылиц
рвутся из лестничных клеток.

About the Author

Mikhail Aizenberg is a poet, literary critic, and essayist. Born in Moscow in 1948, he graduated from the Moscow Architecture Institute. He began writing poems in the mid-1960s. He is the author of ten books of poetry and five books of essays. His poems and essays were translated to many European languages. Two collections of his poetry were published in USA: Less Than A Meter (Ugly Duckling Press, NY, 2004) and Say Thank You (Zephyr Press, Brookline, MA, 2007). Mikhail Aizenberg is the recipient of numerous literary awards in Russia including the Andrey Bely Prize (2003) and the Moskovsky Schet Grand Prize (2016). He lives in Moscow.

About the Translator

Boris Kokotov is a poet and translator. He is the author of several poetry collections in Russian language. His translations from German Romantics were published in the anthology The Century of Translation in Moscow. His translation of Louise Glück’s The Wild Iris (Vodoley, Moscow, 2012) was nominated (long list) for the best translation of the year in Russia. His translations of Russian poetry into English appeared in Blackbird, Poet Lore, and Washington Square Review, among others. He lives in Baltimore.

Read other works in translation by Boris Kokotov published in journals.

Appears In

Issue 12

Browse Issues