Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Five Poems by Arvo Mets translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky

The following translations were first published in

A Night in the Nabokov Hotel.
20 Contemporary Poets from Russia

Dedalus Press, Ireland, 2006 (

The other Russian poets from this anthology here

© Anatoly Kudryavitsky 2006

All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced
in any form or by any means
without the prior permission of the copyright holder.

Пять стихотворений Арво Метса

«Поэт стоит в очереди за вермишелью…» / The Poet
«Исчезаю в весне…»/ Absentee
«Молодые девушки…» / Resemblance
«Безденежный человек…» / Penniless Man
«Этот странный обычай…» / Names

* * *

Поэт стоит в очереди за вермишелью.
Здесь же и его почитательницы.
Поэту немного стыдно.
Он стоял на эстраде,
словно маленький принц,
который никогда не ест.

The Poet

The poet stands in a queue
for spaghetti.

His female admirers
there too.

The poet is slightly ashamed:
he appeared on stage like a little prince
that didn’t seem to take nourishment.

* * *

Исчезаю в весне,
в толпе,
в лужах,
в синеве.
И не ищите.
Мне так хорошо…


I fade into spring
or into a crowd
or into a puddle

sometimes into the blue

there’s no sense in looking for me:
I feel fine

* * *

Молодые девушки
похожи лицом
на небо,
на ветер,
на облака.
Потом из них получаются
верные жены,
лица которых похожи
на дома,
на мебель,
на хозяйственные сумки.
Но их дочери
вновь похожи лицом
на небо, ветер
и весенние ручейки.


Young girls
resemble in looks
the sky,
the wind,
the clouds above.

Later these girls make
devoted wives
whose faces remind us
of houses,
carrier bags.

Still, their daughters
resemble in looks
the sky,
the wind
and streamlets in spring.

* * *

Безденежный человек
ходит по городу.
Туманные звезды
дрожат на морозе.

Безденежный человек –
безрукий человек,
безногий человек,
безглазый человек.

В городе зажигаются огни,
и все видят –
у безденежного человека
голубые глаза.

Это не помогает.

Penniless Man

A penniless man
strolls about the streets.
Foggy stars tremble,

Penniless man
is an armless man,
a legless man,
an eyeless man.

When all the city lights
begin to shine
everyone can see clearly that
the penniless man has got
blue eyes.

It doesn’t help him.

* * *

Этот странный обычай
Присваивать людям имена
(или иногда номера)…
Без имени я уйду.
Без имени разве найдут.


O that bizarre tradition
of giving people names
(or even numbers!)
Nameless, I will escape.
How can they possibly find
a nameless member of mankind?


Three Short Poems published in Shamrock Haiku Journal No 3

* * *

Blustery wind
we‘re caught in the golden blizzard
of falling leaves

* * *

A tiny feather
descending –
birdless sky

* * *

The train screams
and slows down –
three silver firs on the pane


Translated from the Russian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky


Arvo Mets (1937 – 1997)
was born in Estonia, and educated at St. Petersburg University and at Literary Institute in Moscow. He lived most of his life in Moscow where he edited several literary magazines, including Novy Mir/New World. He started writing poetry in the early 1960s, and also translated Estonian poetry to Russian. Three critically acclaimed collections of his poetry miniatures were published in Moscow and Tallinn. His Selected Poems appeared in Moscow in 1992. Poems included in that book have since been translated to eight languages.

Arvo Mets in Russian Wikipedia

Website of the translator (Anatoly Kudryavitsky): in Russian and in English