Verse > Anthologies > Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps. > Modern Russian Poetry
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Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps.  Modern Russian Poetry.  1921.
 
“Purple Autumn”
By Georgy Chulkov (b. 1879)
 
PURPLE Autumn unloosened her tresses and flung them
On the heavens and over the dew-heavy fields.
She came as a guest to the old, silent house,
Singeing the grasses with red;
Through the garden she moved,—        5
Up the balcony; scarcely she touched
The fragile old rails.
She pushed the door-panel softly,
Softly she entered the room,
Sprinkling the rugs with her sun-yellow dust,        10
Dropped a red leaf upon the piano…
Ever after that hour, we heard her unceasing, her tireless rustling,
Rustle and stir and soft whisper.
And our hands suddenly met
With no new words, new and forever false.        15
As though we had hung a wreath of red roses
On a black, wrought-iron door
Leading into a vault
Where lay the rotting body
Of a beloved dream.        20
Autumnal days were upon us,
Days of inscrutable longing;
We were treading the stairs
Of autumnal passion.
In my heart a wound,        25
Like the lamp of an ikon,
Burned and would not be quenched.
The cup of autumnal poison
We pressed to our lips.
By the serpentine garden path Autumn had led us        30
To crepuscular lilies
Upon the pale, sand-humbled pond.
And over the lilied waters and in the roses of evening,
We loved, more superstitiously.
And through the dark night,        35
On the languorous bed,
At the feet of my love,
I loved death anew.
The minutes rang tinkling like crystals
At the brink of an autumn grave:        40
Autumn and Death drunkenly clinked their glasses.
I pressed my thirsty lips
To the feet the ikon-lamp burnished,
I drank the cup of love.
Burned by the fires of sins,        45
Stretched on the cross of lusts,
Shamed, being needlessly faithless,
I drank the cup of love.
In the hour of ineffable dalliance
I sensed the whisper        50
Of autumn pain, of autumn passion.
And kisses like keen needles
Burned and pierced,
Weaving a wreath of thorns.
 
 
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