Marina Tsvetaeva: Elderberry

Elderberry fills the scene!

Elderberry, green and green.
Greener than mould on the vat!
Summer’s birth, greener than that!
Elderberry, till the light dies!
Elderberry, green as my eyes.

And later – at night – with the fires
Of Rostov! – redness in the eyes,
From the bubbling trill of elderberry,
Redder than measles on the body,
In all your days of azure,
Measles sprinkled abroad.

Elderberry, till winter, winter.
What colours, deeper, run
In small berries’ sweet poison!
With red cotton, sealing wax, Hades,
Mix, tiny bright coral beads, baste
With baked blood, just a taste.

Elderberry, fresh killed, killed!
Elderberry – the whole garden filled
With blood, pure and young,
With blood, blazing branches hung –
With the happiest blood, so fine:
Heart’s blood – yours, and mine…

Later – oatmeal in excess
Later – elderberry blackness:
Of stickiness, and of plum,
Over the gate, a violin moan,
Near the house, that is empty,
A lone bush of elderberry.

Elderberry – crazy, so crazy,
I too am one of your berries,
Huns to the Steppe, Georgians to Caucusus, so
I to my elder-bush, by the window,
Grant no palace of art now, for me,
Grant me this bush of elderberry.

Newcomers, to my country!
From the berries – elderberry,
Crimson, my childhood thirst,
From the tree and from the word:
Elder (to this day…at night)
Poison – absorbed by sight…

Elder, crimson, crimson!
Elder, clutched the whole land
In its claw. My childhood in its power.
Almost a crime of passion, from that hour,
Elder, between you and me.
A disease of the age – elderberry,
You, I might name…

September 11th 1931, Meudon  21st May 1935, Van, Armenia

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