“Stella Polaris,” by Viktor Kulle

Russian poet Viktor Kulle is fifty today, today being April 30 in his part of the world. We congratulate him! His is a voice resonating with Russia’s deep classical past. In 1996 he defended Russia’s first doctoral dissertation on Joseph Brodsky (here it is).

We offer his poem “Stella Polaris” in a translation by Little Star’s own James Stotts, with a small divertimento at the end.

That first time,
she came to me,
darkness incarnate,
and looked me in the eye
           to say—I’m not going
           anywhere.  Where would I?

           Now she’s a star.
           I withstood her light,
But could barely carry on
any longer…
But what moves
the heavenly bodies
            pulled me along, too,
            my soul idling, in neutral…
            The oxygen
            I’ve been stealing
for my black lungs—
an amplitude of the senses:
the lungs’ panting
to their rank ejaculation, I want you.
            It doesn’t matter who
            I sleep with, bile replaces
            their stirring dew.
            Dew you and I can hardly
expect to drink, now,
two mouths pressed into one
(less likely in this life—
than the next).
            The fur on his face
            helps keep out the cold.
            A hunt is happening
           somewhere in the clouds.
When heaven’s horn blows
and he hears the hounds,
the trembling ball of chase
races down his hole.
            He dare not speak
            a single word
           (all alone, and warm),
           But makes a silent prayer:
Shut up my throat,
let me lay with
anyone, anything at all,
but not love…

(Read the Russian original here.)

And now for the divertimento, “О чем вы птички?,” rather playfully rendered, again, by James Stotts:

whatcha singin’ ’bout birdies?  nothing,
just singing.
we open our mouths and it’s the sound
we make

like a dream or prayer, you take
what’s around
and it comes back out in
a random shape

(Read the Russian original here.)

Order Kulle’s book, Всё всерьёз, here.


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