in New York they have New York, but nothing so beautiful
Monika Baer, Untitled, 2003

Language: Russian 
Poet: Genrikh Sapgir 
Translator: J. Kates

SHARE:

in New York they have New York, but nothing so beautiful

A poem by Genrikh Sapgir translated by J. Kates

Genrikh Sapgir, born in 1928, was one of the leaders of the influential Lianozovo Group of underground writers in Moscow in the 1950s and 1960s. Until perestroika, apart from his celebrated Sonnets on Shirts (Paris, 1978), he was able to publish little except for his much-loved writing for children. However from 1989 to 1999, more than 25 collections and chapbooks of his poetry appeared, as well as fiction. In October 1999, he died in Moscow while traveling by trolleybus to a poetry reading.   

J. Kates is a poet and literary translator who lives in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. 

Про берёзку

“счастливый ты, у тебя своя берёзка есть” —сказал седой американец глядя с балкона
счастливый я, у меня своя берёзка есть
счастливая берёзка, у неё свой американец есть
счастливый американец, у него своей берёзки нет
счастливый балкон чуть не обломился от такой красоты: берёзка американец и я

“у нас в Нью-Йорке такой красоты нет”
у них в Нью-Йорке такой красоты нет
у них в Нью-Йорке—Нью-Йорк, а такой красоты нет
у них в Нью-Йорке—красота, а такой красоты нет
у них в Нью-Йорке нет нас — такой красоты
такой красоты

а берёзка росла в соседнем дворе и рыжие листья падали на соседнюю крышу
а соседняя крыша росла в соседнем дворе
соседняя крыша падала на соседнюю крышу
рыжие листья падали в—
двор падал в помойку
помойка росла и росла
берёзка и крыши, рыжий американец и я росли и падали в помойку
счастливая помойка
блаженный зелёный бак, у него своя берёзка ест

About a Birch Tree

“fortunate are you, having your own birch tree,” said the grizzled american looking out from the balcony
fortunate am I, having my own birch tree
fortunate the birch tree, having its own american
fortunate the american, not having his own birch tree
fortunate the balcony almost collapsing under such beauty: the birch tree the american and I

“in New York we have nothing so beautiful”
in New York they have nothing so beautiful
in New York they have New York, but nothing so beautiful
in New York they have beauty, but nothing so beautiful
in New York they don’t have us—such beauty such beauty . . .

but the birch tree grew in the courtyard next door and its red leaves fell on the roof next door
and the roof next door fell on the roof next to it
the red leaves fell on—
the courtyard fell into the trash bin
the trash bin grew and grew
the birch and the roofs, the red-headed american and I grew and fell into the trash bin
fortunate trash bin
blessed green tank, having its own birch tree