the house where we lived and died
Auguste Rodin, Orpheus and Eurydice, 1887/1893. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum

Language: Russian 
Poet: Vladimir Gandelsman 
Translators: Olga Livshin and Andrew Janco

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the house where we lived and died

Two poems by Vladimir Gandelsman translated by Olga Livshin and Andrew Janco

Vladimir Gandelsman was born in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) in 1948, and came to the United States in 1990. He is the author of eighteen poetry collections and two volumes of collected works. In English, Gandelsman’s work appears in the Massachusetts Review, The Common, Notre Dame Review, and other journals.

Olga Livshin is the author of A Life Replaced: Poems with Translations from Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman (2019). Her poems, essays, and translations appear in the Kenyon Review Online, Poetry International, Gyroscope, Mad Hatters’ Review, and other journals. She lives outside Philadelphia.

Andrew Janco is a Digital Scholarship Librarian at Haverford College. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Chicago. His translations in collaboration with Olga Livshin are published in Contemporary Russian Poetry: An AnthologyWords for War: New Poetry from Ukraine, and a number of journals. 

Дочь

Она подошла к дому,
в котором умерли
я и моя жена.
По очереди.
Не помню, кто за кем.

Последние десять лет
мы не виделись,
хотя жили в одном городе.
Что-то её отвратило.
Наши раздоры?

Она подошла к дому.
Окна молчали.
Ни следов дыхания,
ничего.
Ветреный февраль ледяной.

Замерла возле дерева,
где мы обычно
кормим белок.
Ни ореховых ошмёток,
ни белок.

Из подъезда вышел сосед.
Она вздрогнула.
А что такого?
Мало ли что бывает…
Чужой, не бойся.

Запад горит закатом.
К остановке
она идёт осторожно,
чтобы я не услышал
её шагов.

Daughter

She walked up to the house
where we lived and died,
my wife and I.
One, then the other.
I forget the order.

For the past ten years
we hadn’t seen each other,
though we lived in the same city.
Something pushed her away.
Was it our fighting?

She walked up to the house.
The windows were silent.
Not a trace of our breath,
nothing.
Breezy February, a bit icy.

She stopped by the tree
where we usually
fed the squirrels.
Not a single nutshell,
not a squirrel in sight.

A neighbor came out.
She flinched.
Good girl.
You never know . . .
And you, neighbor, don’t be scared.

The sun sets in the west.
As she walks to the bus stop,
she steps carefully
so that I wouldn’t hear
her footsteps.

Эвридика

Она оборачивается и думает: “Если он
увидит преследующие меня тени
любимых, которыми населен
Аид…” Оборачивается к новой теме.

“Увидит, что вполоборота иду,
что предана мертвым, что большего чуда,
чем с ними остаться… – он не осилит ту,
предписанную ему, и рванет отсюда”.

Тогда он сбавляет шаг, ощутив спиной,
спиной и затылком, и целиком – всю тяжесть
тоскливую. Она говорит: “Родной” –
кому-то, и он оборачивается, отважась.

Eurydice

She looks over her shoulder and thinks: “If he sees
the shadows of my loved ones in the Underworld
following after me . . .” She pauses. “If
he realizes that I, too, look back at every turn,

that I belong to the dead, and there is no greater
magic than me remaining here—among them . . .
He will have no power over this woman who was
given to him. He will panic and run.”

And then he slows down: his back, his head, all
of him feeling that morose weight.
She calls out—Sweetie—to someone—and,
suddenly hopeful, he looks back.