Translated by Jamie Olson
from Issue 22
In our blissful stupor, in the golden glow
of a warm evening, near the House of Pioneers
on Lenin’s Hills, we stood together, just us two.
Remember, Lilith? At that moment, our awareness
that this was happiness—yes, this was it!—had reached
proportions never known, a scale unheard of. The earth
lay at our feet. And we were overcome by pure
unearthly pity. And we knew we didn’t need
a single thing. We knew that nothing else remained
for us to do but greet the good news of the Lord
with seasoned sorrow, immortality, and bliss—
to greet the news, which spread outward in crooked rays
of light into the wilderness . . . With these same eyes
we soon shall see . . .
Timur Kibirov was born in 1955 and began publishing his poems in the 1980s. Being one of the most influential of contemporary Russian poets, he was closely associated with underground poets like Lev Rubinstein, Dmitri Prigov, and Sergey Gandlevsky, and critics often identify his work with postmodernism and conceptualism. He is the author of thirteen poetry collections, including When Lenin Was Young, Amour, exil, and In the Margins of “A Shropshire Lad”. The poems translated for TWO LINES come from his collection Greek and Roman Catholic Songs and Nursery Rhymes, 1986-2009, which contains over two decades of poems all centered on the theme of religious faith. Kibirov has won many honors, including the “Anti-Booker” award and Russia’s prestigious “Poet” prize.
Jamie Olson teaches in the English Department at Saint Martin’s University, just outside of Olympia, Washington. His essays and translations from Russian have recently appeared in Anomalous Press, Crab Creek Review, and Translation Review. He writes about poetry, translation, and Russian culture on his blog The Flaxen Wave.
Original text: Timur Kibirov, from Greek and Roman Catholic Songs and Nursery Rhymes, 1986-2009. Moscow: Vremya, 2011.