In Evenings Lit by Dove-Gray Beams — Lina Kostenko

The seventh poem in Three Hundred Poems by Lina Kostenko, pages 12-13. Originally untitled.

A long one, a sweet one, a tricky one, one I’m not entirely happy with, one that’s a little looser in some places than I’d like. I don’t love how far the first two lines stray from the original here. The literal is more like “in the desert of dove-colored evenings, in endless fields under the sky.”

I’m trying to be better about including feminine rhymes (multi-syllabic rhymes, like own hand / homeland, or no doubt view / about you) more often when they’re integral to the original, while also trying to forgive myself for slant rhymes and struggling not to hew too far from literal meanings.

Also, how neat is that word? Сизий: a specific color word for the blue-gray of a dove. It’s etymologically separate from the word for dove, and yet is always defined as the color of one.

В пустелі сизих вечорів

Ліна Костенко

В пустелі сизих вечорів,
в полях безмежних проти неба
о, скільки слів
і скільки снів
мені наснилося про тебе!

Не знаю, хто ти,
де живеш,
кого милуєш і голубиш.
А знаю — ти чекаєш теж,
тривожно вгадуєш і любиш.

І я прийду в життя твоє.
Тебе, незнаного, впізнаю,
як син вигнанця впізнає
прикмети батьківського краю.

Я ради цього ладна жить.
Всі інші хай проходять мимо,
аби в повторах не згубить

Нехай це — витвір самоти,
нехай це — вигадка й омана!
Моєму серцю снишся ти,
як морю сняться урагани.

In Evenings Lit by Dove-Gray Beams

Lina Kostenko

In evenings lit by dove-gray beams,
in fields that I alone, no doubt, knew,
how many dreams
how many reams
printed with words I’ve dreamed about you!

I know not your name,
where you live,
who gets your love and your caresses.
I know you also wait, and give
your heart in anxious loving guesses.

And I’ll come into your life then,
and recognize you like my own hand,
the way the sons of banished men
will know at once their fathers’ homeland.

I’ll live because of this, my gem.
Let others all go undiscovered,
as long as I don’t lose in them
my one
my own
that’s like no other.

Let this be folly I have known,
mirages caused by being lonely!
My poor heart dreams of you alone,
Like oceans dream of tempests only.

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