August

by Boris Pasternak

This was its promise, held to faithfully:

The early morning came in this way

Until the angle of its saffron beam

Between the curtains and the sofa lay.

And with its ochre heat spread across

The village houses, and the nearby wood,

Upon my bed and on my dampened pillow

And to the corner where the bookcase stood.

Then I recalled the reason why my pillow

Had been so dampened by those tears that fell —

I’d dreamt I saw you coming one by one

Across the wood to wish me your farewell.

You came in ones and twos, a straggling crowd;

Then suddenly someone mentioned a word:

It was the sixth of August, by Old Style,

And the Transfiguration of our Lord.

For from Mount Tabor usually this day

There comes light without a flame to shine,

And autumn draws all eyes upon itself

As clear and unmistaken as a sign.

But you came forward through the tiny, stripped

The pauperly and trembling alder grove,

Into the graveyard’s, russet-red,

Which, like stamped gingerbread, lay there and glowed.

And with the silence of those treetops

Was neighbour only the promising sky

And in the echoed crowing of the cock

The distances and distances rang by:

Then in the churchyard underneath the trees,

Like some surveyor from the government

Death gazed on my pale face to estimate

How large a grave would suit my measurement.

All those who stood there could distinctly hear

A quiet voice emerge from where I lay:

The voice was mine, my past, my prophetic words

That sounded now, unsullied by decay:

‘Farewell, wonder of azure and of gold

Surrounding the Transfiguration’s power:

Assuage now with with a woman’s caress

The bitterness of my predestined hour!

‘Farewell timeless expanse of passing years!

Farewell, woman who flung your challenge steeled

Against the abyss of humanitarians:

For it is I who am your battlefield!

‘Farewell, you span of open wings outspread;

The voluntary obstinacy of flight,

O figure of the world revealed in speech,

Creative genius, wonder-working might!

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: