Verse > Anthologies > Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps. > Modern Russian Poetry
Deutsch and Yarmolinsky, comps.  Modern Russian Poetry.  1921.
Cimmerian Twilight I–III
By Maximilian Voloshin (b. 1877)
THE EVENING light has soaked with ancient gold
And gall the yellow hills. Like tawny fur
Grass rises shaggy in a ruddy blur;
Past fiery bushes metal waves unfold;
And enigmatic cliffs and boulders hold        5
Worn troughs that are the sea’s chronologer.
In the winged twilight figures seem to stir:
A heavy paw, a jowl grins stark and bold,
Like swelling ribs the dubious hillocks show;
On what bent back, like wool, does savory grow?        10
What brute, what titan, to this region cleaves?
The dark is strange … and yonder, space is clean.
And there the tired ocean, panting, heaves,
And rotting grasses breathe of iodine.
Here stood a sacred forest. Here the messenger
Wing-footed went, his touch upon the dumb glades leaving…
Upon the site of cities, nor stones, nor ruins heaving:
Now on burnt slopes but sheep in scattered patches stir.
The mountain peaks: cut crowns! Across each bitten spur
The clear green twilight flows, mysteriously grieving.        20
By whose dim longing stung, what is my soul retrieving?
Who knows the road of gods? The dawns and dusks that blur?
In its sonorous caves the rubble, churned, is sounding;
Lifting its weighty crests, the troubled sea is pounding
Upon the sandy dunes, upon the ringing shore.        25
The heavy nights pass on in tears through starry spaces…
The outcast gods command, whom men invoke no more,
And ineluctably they show dark, alien faces.
Above dark, rippled waters rises in retreat
Earth’s heavy mass: the spines and rocky crests defying        30
The tortured steep in torrents of red rubble lying—
A lifeless land, its mourning reaches at my feet.
Sad dreams and solemn dreams flow by me, bitter-sweet:
Earth ancient and obscure, whose echoing bays are sighing,
Where in late twilight with a sadder beauty dying        35
The waves in waste hexameters billow and beat.
And where no roadways run upon the dark’s still rivers,
Breathing an ancient mystery, the dim sail swells and quivers
With winds of tossed desire and seas that lift and fall.
An alien tremor takes my ship upon its going        40
Where destined roads of daring and retribution call.
And lamp-like in the sky the Seven Stars are glowing.

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