Three poems by Maximilian Voloshin


Translated from the Russian by Masha Udensiva-Brenner.




I am an eye stripped of its lid. I’ve been abandoned on the ground,
So I’ll dismantle and reflect this world…
The images, they slide. I feel, I heed,
But they are merely glimpses that I can’t hold down.

And often during dusk, when stacks are blowing smoke
Over the blue-lit city, and thunder’s in the air,
They’ll gaze at me, those sleepless eyes
And lips, parched with the darkness of despair.

The room’s inside of me, the water drips.
And shadows shift, they distance from me—growing.
The clock is ticking, the water drips,
One question always interrupted by one following.

And then a feeling, vague—
A stirring from below. A happy sorrow, sweet fear of
And I beg of it— “just stay, exist inside of me—
Don’t interrupt the birth of this excruciation…”

And once again, the clamor of the day,
An ashen face—it’s sinking to the bottom…
But time will finally freeze over this eye
And stretch its dismal film across me.

July 1
Paris 1905



Fine threads paint the sky
Wanting to overtake the day,
And night has tipped
Into my soul, into the lakes.

I want to scream something
Into its dark, open jaws,
To bring my ear to it,
Press up against it with my tremulous heart.

You walk holding your breath,
The fields are freezing.
No, listen…do you hear it?
It’s the earth breathing.

I cling to the grass.
To be yours forever…
“I know, I know…I understand,”
Whispers the water.

The night is dark and starless.
Someone cries in their sleep.
Bottomless, it spilled over the waters,
And into me.

July 6, 1905

In Pursuit


My thoughts chant: “we’re tired…we’re freezing …”

I sleep. But asleep my spirit is restless.
Racing through snowy deserts
In a dreadful, distant land.

My spirit is with you through the rocking train.
My thoughts are chanting on and on,
My spirit’s in Russia, and Antigone leads
the blind man through scorching desert terrain.

My spirit is racing, brushing the plains
Along this land’s tormented paths.
And the fine threads of bloody dreams
Wreathe through the world and burrow into my heart.

My spirit whirls away with you…
Frost weaves across the windowpane
And we nestle against the glass,
Our gazes to the hyacinth-blue moon.

My thoughts are chanting on and on…
My spirit is with you through the rocking train.
Antigone leads the blind man away
Along the rocky paths of scorching desert terrain…

February 1906


Maximilian Voloshin (1877-1932) was a Ukrainian-born Russian poet. He became famous as a poet and a critic of literature and the arts, being published in many contemporary magazines of the early 20th century, including Vesy, Zolotoye runo (‘The Golden Fleece’), and Apollon.

Masha Udensiva-Brenner is a translator, writer, and editor living in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Anderbo, Narrative, New Republic, and Tablet, among others.


Photo: Maximilian Voloshin,
Photo: Masha Udensiva-Brenner, Private


Published on January 5, 2017.

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