by Boris Pasternak

Boris Pasternak

The block of flats loomed towerlike.
Two sweating athletes, human telpher,
Were carrying up narrow stairs,
As though a bell onto a belfry,
As to a stony tableland
The tables of the law, with caution,
A huge and heavy concert-grand,
Above the city's restless ocean.
At last it stands on solid ground,
While deep below the din and clatter
Are damped, as though the town were drowned-
Sunk to the bottom of a legend.
The tenant of the topmost flat
Looks down on earth over the railings,
As if he held it in his hand,
Its lawful ruler, never failing.
Back in the drawing room he starts
To play-not someone else's music,
But his own thought, a new chorale,
The stir of leaves, Hosannas booming.
Improvisations sweep and peal,
Bring night, flames, fire barrels rolling,
Trees under downpour, rumbling wheels,
Life of the streets, fate of the lonely…
Thus Chopin would, at night, instead
Of the outgrown, naive and artless,
Write down on the black fretwork stand
His soaring dream, his new departures.
Or, overtaking in their flight
The world by many generations,
Valkyries shake the city roofs
By thunderous reverberations.
Or through the lovers' tragic fate,
Amidst infernal crash and thunder,
Tchaikovsky harrowed us to tears,
And rent the concert hall asunder.

Last updated January 14, 2019