Selected Poems (Twentieth-Century Classics)

by Marina Tsvetaeva | Poetry |
ISBN: 0140187596 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingCordelia-annewing of Decatur, Georgia USA on 4/15/2015
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Journal Entry 1 by wingCordelia-annewing from Decatur, Georgia USA on Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Edited From Publishers Weekly
Although generally less well known here than Pasternak, Akhmatova and Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva (also spelled Tsvetayeva) is counted by some critics as the greatest of these four major poets of post-revolutionary Russia. Her work is difficult to translate as the sounds of Russian poetry which remain formally traditional in use of rhyme and meter can never be captured in English. Further, Tsvetaeva presents a particularly difficult problem to the translator because her transcendent reputation rests precisely on the aural values of her verse. If we cannot have Tsvetaeva herself, these stand on their own as creditable English-language poems. The selection represents the entire scope of her remarkable career from her simple and charming early lyrics, first published in 1910 when she was 18, through those recounting her privations and hardships during the years of upheaval in Russia, to the poignant poems written in exile after 1922. This anthology includes all of her major long poems, such as the stunning Poem of the End. Although it is unclear whether Tsvetaeva was officially ostracized on her own account or because of the political actions of her husband Sergey Efron, her poems are heart-rending in view of her tragic life and eventual suicide. Love, the loss of youth, poetry and the Motherland are the core subjects of her poems, which are infused with high passion and a heroic tenacity of spirit. For non-Russian speakers, this volume is a new window on poetry in the Stalinist era.

Journal Entry 2 by wingCordelia-annewing at Decatur, Georgia USA on Friday, November 17, 2023
I finally came to terms with this book that I must have had for at least 20 years. I'm rating it average based on my experience, not on the quality of the book. I will never be able to read Tsvetaeva in Russian and as the introduction and postscript indicate, her work is difficult to translate into English. As it is too late for me to learn Russian, this is the closest to appreciation I will ever come. My favorites were the POEMS FOR BLOK (another Russian poet), Pages 26-33. Soon I will send this out into the world for the next reader. Editor Elaine Feinstein did a fine job editing and introducing this anthology. I would read Feinstein's Tsvetaeva biography, Captive Lion: The Life of Marina Tsvetaeva. Apparently, it is only one of Feinstein's significant works. She was a noted English poet, novelist and academic. I'm glad to know of her through the impressive Tsvetaeva scholarship that made this book possible.

The writing advice, 'sit down, open a vein' is generally attributed to Hemingway. Tsvetaeva also offered it:


I opened my veins. Unstoppably
life spurts out with no remedy.
Now I set out bowls and plates.
Every bowl will be shallow.
Every plate will be small.
And overflowing their rims,
into the black earth, to nourish
the rushes unstoppably
without cure, gushes poetry...

Translator Elaine Feinstein

Journal Entry 3 by wingCordelia-annewing at Dancing Goats Coffee in Decatur, Georgia USA on Thursday, November 30, 2023

Released 2 mos ago (12/1/2023 UTC) at Dancing Goats Coffee in Decatur, Georgia USA


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