The Stray Dog Cabaret: Russian Poems


This is the moment they told us would come some day
when there’s nobody left alive to hear what we say.
The world is no longer the place it used to be
Be still, don’t break my heart. Be silent, poetry.

Anna Akhmatova

Nations, faces, ages pass
Pass as in a dream,
an ever-flowing stream.
In Nature’s shifting glimmer-glass
stars are nets, we their haul,
gods are shadows on a wall.

Velimir Khlebnikov

Every poem is a love-child,
A penniless first-born
Bastard, set by the roadside
To beg from the winds.

Heart’s poison, heart’s adoration,
Heart’s paradise, heart’s grief.
His father may have been an emperor–
May have been a thief.

Marina Tsvetaeva

Selected Poems of Anna Akhmatova


The pillow hot
On both sides,
The second candle
Dying, the ravens
Crying. Haven’t
Slept all night, too late
To dream of sleep. . .
How unbearably white
The blind on the white window.
Good morning, morning!

No, it is not I, it is someone else who is suffering.
I could not have borne it. And this thing which has happened,
Let them cover it with black cloths,
And take away the lanterns. . .

poems I love from Anna Akhmatova’s selected poems



The Magic Ring: Russian Folktales from Alexander Afanasiev’s Collection


“At the end of three days he returned with two small flasks: the water of life in one, the water of death in the other. The Wolf took the two flasks, ripped the young raven apart, sprinkled the water of death over it–and two halves joined together. Then he sprinkled the water of life over it–and the young raven flapped its wings and flew off. Next the Grey Wolf sprinkled Prince Ivan’s body with the water of death–and the wounds healed. Then he sprinkled the body with the water of life–and Prince Ivan stood up and said: ‘How long have I slept?'”

“The king ordered the princess to be executed: the unfaithful wife was tied to the tail of a wild stallion which was set loose upon the open plain. The stallion flew like the wind, dashing her snow-white body against the gullies and steep ravines.”

“The girl put her ear to the ground and heard Baba Yaga coming. At once she threw down her towel–and a wide, wide river appeared. The witch had to stop at the river, gnashing her teeth in fury. She returned home, took her oxen, drove them to the river, and the oxen drank the river clean. Then off she rushed again in pursuit. The girl once more put her ear to the ground and heard the witch getting near. Straightway she threw down her comb–and a dense, dark forest appeared. The witch began to gnaw through it, but it was too much for her and she had to turn back.”

some interesting scenes from The Magic Ring: Russian Folktales from Alexander Afanasiev’s Collection


The Three Kingdoms: Russian Folktales from Alexander Afanasiev’s Collection


“I was at the feast too, and I drank mead and wine, but all of it ran down this beard of mine.”

“You are to build a kingdom of gold in the middle of the sea and also a bridge of gold that will connect this palace with it. The bridge is to be carpeted with the richest of velvets, beautiful trees are to grow on either side of it, and songbirds are to sit in them and sing away for all they are worth.”

“The boys grew fast, not by the day but by the hour…”

“Whether he was long on the way or not nobody knows, for a tale is quick in the telling and a deed is slow in the doing.”

some interesting recurring phrases in The Three Kingdoms: Russian Folktales from Alexander Afanasiev’s Collection

Today I Wrote Nothing by Daniil Kharms



Now, one day, a man went to work, and on the way he met another man, who, having bought a loaf of Polish bread, was heading back home where he came from.,

And that’s it, more or less.


There was a redheaded man who had no eyes or ears. He didn’t have hair either, so he was called a redhead arbitrarily.

He couldn’t talk because he had no mouth. He didn’t have a nose either.

He didn’t even have arms or legs. He had no stomach, he had no back, no spine, and he didn’t have any insides at all. There was nothing! So, we don’t even know who we’re talking about.

We’d better not talk about him any more.


Because of her excessive curiosity, one old woman tumbled out of her window, fell and shattered to pieces.

Another old woman leaned out to look at the one who’d shattered but, out of excessive curiosity, also tumbled out of her window, fell and shattered to pieces.

Then a third old woman tumbled from her window, and a fourth, and a fifth.

When the sixth old woman tumbled out of her window, I got sick of watching them and walked over to the Maltsev Market where, they say, a blind man had been given a knit shawl.

some of my favorites stories by Daniil Kharms

On Seashore Far a Green Oak Towers


“I did not take you both into the stable to see whether you knew the horse, but to see which of you the horse knew. When you walked up to it, it turned its head and moved towards you; but when the cripple touched it, it flattened its ears and raised its legs.”

“The people raised their heads to see the flock and, noticing something strange about it, pointed with their hands. The Frog terribly wanted to fly lower over the ground, to let the people see her and to hear what they said about her.”

“‘I rejoiced because it dawned upon me at that very moment that Fate was tired of abusing me. For can one conceive of any creature under the sun more luckless and destitute than a beggar whose pouch has been stolen! No greater misfortune could befall me.'”

“Before them were more doors; they opened, and Misha found himself in a street. What a street! What a town! The streets were paved with mother-of-pearl; the sky was shining tortoise-shell; over the sky moved a gold sun; if you beckoned to it, it would leave the sky, revolve round your hand, then start rising again. The tiny houses were made of polished steel and faced with different coloured shells, and under each roof sat a boy bell with a gold head and a silver skirt, lots and lots of them, each one smaller than the next.”

some quotes I like from Raduga Publishers’ On Seashore Green a Far Oak Towers