This book is a selection of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poems translated from the Russian. The poems cross a 25-year period, from about 1915 to about 1940.
As I’ve said before, I am not a very good judge of poetry. I dislike poetry and I usually don’t understand it. My goal this year is to read six books of it, both to try to teach myself how to understand it better, and because I feel like I’m really lacking in this area of my learning. Maybe if I can learn to read poetry, I can grow to like it. At least that’s the hope.
Unfortunately, this collection did nothing for me at all. I wanted to like it. Jason gave it a rave review and the information he gave about Tsvetaeva’s life made her sound fascinating. Maybe I ought to have read a biography instead. Instead, I part-read part-skimmed through this collection, starting off all eager, getting less and less so as I turned pages. I had planned to read slowly, a couple poems a day all month, but as none of the poems spoke to me, I just read faster to get through it. Not the way you’re supposed to read poetry, I know, but I couldn’t help myself.
Maybe it was just that it was a translation. Maybe it’s just not the sort of poetry I like. Maybe I just don’t know how to read it. I don’t know. But either way, in the end there were only two poems in the entire collection that were okay, and of those two, only one that I liked enough to quote:
A kiss on the head – wipes away misery.
I kiss your head.
A kiss on the eyes – takes away sleeplessness.
I kiss your eyes.
A kiss on the lips – quenches the deepest thirst.
I kiss your lips.
A kiss on the head – wipes away memory.
I kiss your head.
Ironically, Jason quoted this exact same poem in his review, which I didn’t realize until just now.
I wish I could have liked and understood this better. Again, Tsvetaeva seems like a fascinating woman and I would like to read more about her. But her poetry? *shrug* It just didn’t work for me, I guess.