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Bound for Hell

5.17.2012


Hell, my ardent sisters, be assured,
Is where we're bound; we'll drink the pitch of hell--
We, who have sung the praises of the lord
With every fiber in us, every cell.

We, who did not manage to devote
Our nights to spinning, did not bend and sway
Above a cradle--in a flimsy boat,
Wrapped in a mantle, we're now borne away.

Every morning, every day, we'd rise
And have the finest Chinese silks to wear;
And we'd strike up for the songs of paradise
Around the campfire of a robber's lair,

We, careless seamstresses (our seams all ran,
Whether we sewed or not)--yet we have been
Such dancers, we have played the pipes of Pan:
The world was ours, each one of us a queen.

First, scarcely draped in tatters, and disheveled,
Then plaited with a starry diadem;
We've been in jails, at banquets we have reveled:
But the rewards of heaven, we're lost to them,

Lost in nights of starlight, in the garden
Where apple trees from paradise are found.
No, be assured, my gentle girls, my ardent
And lovely sisters, hell is where we're bound.




- Marina Tsvetaeva, translated from the Russian by Stephen Edgar.

 Poetry, March 2012.

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