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Memento by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

The other day I was in the library sitting on the floor surrounded by books I can’t borrow (my load is full). I was copying this poem in a hurry, scribbling furiously. I didn’t know if I had all afternoon to do it.


Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Translated by Arthur Boyars and Simon Franklin

Like a reminder of this life
of trams, sun, sparrows,
and the flighty uncontrolledness
of streams leaping like thermometers,
and because ducks are quacking somewhere
above the crackling of the last, paper-thin ice,
and because children are crying bitterly
(remember children’s lives are so sweet!)
and because in the drunken, shimmering starlight
the new moon whoops it up,
and a stocking crackles a bit at the knee,
gold in itself and tinged by the sun,
like a reminder of life,
and because there is resin on tree trunks,
and because I was madly mistaken
in thinking that my life was over,
like a reminder of my life—
you entered into me on stockinged feet.
You entered—neither too late nor too early—
at exactly the right time, as my very own,
and with a smile, uprooted me
from memories, as from a grave.
And I, once again whirling among
the painted horses, gladly exchange,
for one reminder of life,
all its memories.

From The Collected Poems: 1952-1990 by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, published by Henry Holt and Company, 1991.

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