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  Igor Vishnevetsky
Igor Vishnevetsky is a poet of landscapes, both of the mind and of
Igor Vishnevetsky
nature. He is a poet whose work evokes the vast terrain of spaces that are inclusive, not exclusive, much in the manner of Pablo Neruda and Saint-John Perse. Vishnevetsky is a professor of Russian literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The reading will be bilingual in Russian and English.



V. Sarmatia Asiatica:
1942 AD


Igor Vishnevetsky

Ігорь ВИШНЕВЕЦКИЙ
The Riphean Mountains* encircle from the west,
and from the north bent like a bow
in the hands of a warrior of the white plains,
whose face is in the wrinkles of rivers—
Tanais, Rha**—
and his saddle—the top of the Caucasus.
The steed's nostrils stretch towards Pontus Euxinus,***
towards the Lake Maeotis,****

while the warrior,
predatorily, having turned to the west,
is ready to shoot from the Riphean bow,
and over the fox's hat
in the feathery humid air—
as if dreams—camps of hyppophagi,
of amazons, of shadows
ripple his
battle stance.

This flatland is open to all,
and any may,
having beaten their badly shoed feet into blood
compose iron stanzas for themselves
about the Sarmatian winds, staring at the icy sarcophagus,
which covers the corpses of stallions and the wheels of trucks
over which black birds
cry.
In the soldier's bag is
a petrified loaf and an overturned canteen,
his fingers are frozen and snow has blinded his pupils;
on all sides of the world—ices covered with shades
of a sun that beats one in the back
from the steaming lake Ilmen
to the hilly plain,
where his soul stands,
full of darkness.


January 2000

* Ancient Greek name for the Ural Mountains
** Volga river
*** Black Sea
**** Ancient Greek name for the Sea of Azov

Published in Russian in "Oktyabr" 9 (2001) and "Aerial Mail" collection

Translated from the Russian by Ignatius Vishnevetsky in collaboration with the author



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