Poetry: ‘In the Wood’


So I’ve got the itch to post again- something, anything! It’s late and I’m sleepy and so less coherent than I’d like, so I’ll hand over to Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), who wrote one of my favourite poems. This translation by J.M.Cowen is magic. It combines all my favourite things about poetry: nonsensical allusions that you just seem to get, a perfect balance between melancholy and joy and some good old pastoral imagery.


In the Wood

The field was clouded with a lilac heat.

Through the wood rolled the darkness of cathedrals.

What in the world remained for them to kiss?

It was all theirs, like soft wax in their fingers.


This is the dream, – you do not sleep, but dream

you thirst for sleep, that there’s a fellow dozing

and through his dream from underneath his eyelids

a pair of black suns break and burn his lashes.


Their beams flowed by. And iridescent beetles.

The glass of dragon-flies roamed over cheeks.

The wood was full of tiny scintillations,

as at the clockmaker’s beneath his tweezers.


It seemed he slumbered to the figures’ tick,

while high above his head in harshest amber

they place in ether strictly tested clocks

and regulate them to the change of heat.


They shift them round about and shake the needles

and scatter shadow, swing and bore a place

for the tall masts’ gloom, that’s climbed into the day’s 

fatigue and lies across the deep blue dial.


It seemed that ancient joys were flying over,

sunset of dreams once more embraced the wood.

But happy people do not watch the clocks;

it seems they only lie in pairs and sleep.

3 thoughts on “Poetry: ‘In the Wood’

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