Expansive Poetics – (More Khlebnikov – 2)

Velimir Khlebnikov (1885-1922)

AG: So I’ll read a few more (of Velimir Khlebnikov) that are of later date

Thunderstorm in the Month Au  (‘Groza v mesyatse Au)

Pupu-popo!  That’s the thunder.
Gam gra gra rap rap.
Pee pee-pee-zee, that’s him.
Bai gzo-gzee-zee. Flash of lightning.
Vei gzo gzee-va – That’s you.
Goga, gago–Majestic rolling.
Gago, goga!
Zzh. Zzh.
Mn! Mn! Nm!
Meh-mo-mo-muna. All turns blue.
Moa, moa,
Me-ah svu.
Vei vai eh-vu!  That’s a whirlwind.
Vzee-zo-tsern. Vey-tser-tsee.
Vra-vra, vra-vra!
Vrap, varp, vrap!
Howl howlota. Rolling rumbles.
Howlota. Gat Gakree.
Vuva veh-vo. Ring circles

That’s 1919-1921.   Earlier, 1913:

O the racing cloud’s Dostoevskitude!

O the melting noon’s Pushkinations!
The night is seen like Tyutchev
Pouring immensity into transmensity.

[О, достоевскиймо бегущей тучи!/ О, пушкиноты млеющего полдня!/ Ночь смотрится, как Тютчев,/Безмерное замирным полня].

It’s like he’s high on grass, or something.. Tyutchev – earlier playwright, poet? That’s 1913. “immensity into transmensity”. [Безмерное замирным полня”]

(Next) his comment on the Russian Revolution, (actually, probably written 1921) – (“I and Russia”  (Я И РОССИЯ”)):

Russia gave freedom to thousands upon thousands.
A fine deed! Long will it be remembered.
But I took off my shirt,
And each hair’s glinting skyscraper,
Each chink
In the city of my body,
Hung out carpets and red calico fabrics.
Citizens male and female
Of the state of Me
Crowded at the sills of the thousandsilled curls.
Olgas and Igors
On no one’s orders
Glad of the sun, looked through my skin.
Fallen is the dungeon shirt!
But I simply took of my shirt:
Gave sun to the peoples of Me!
Bare-chested I stood by the sea.
Thus I granted freedom to the peoples,
Suntan to the crowds.

[Россия тысячам тысяч свободу дала./Милое дело! Долго будут помнить про это./А я снял рубаху,/И каждый зеркальный небоскреб моего волоса,/Каждая скважина/Города тела/Вывесила ковры и кумачовые ткани./Гражданки и граждане/Меня — государства/Тысячеоконных кудрей толпились у окон./Ольги и Игори,/Не по заказу/Радуясь солнцу, смотрели сквозь кожу./Пала темница рубашки!/А я просто снял рубашку —/ Дал солнце народам Меня!/Голый стоял около моря./Так я дарил народам свободу,/Толпам загара.]

It was published in 1923.

Student:  That’s great.

AG: Same time, 1917-1922, another little comment, called “Refusal.” (отказ):

I find it much nicer
To look at the stars
Than to sign a death sentence.
I find it much nicer
To hear flowers’ voices
Whispering “it is he!”
When I pass in the garden
Than to see firearms
Slaying those who want
To slay me.
No, never,
Will be a ruler!

звезды,/Чем подписывать/Смертный приговор./Мне гораздо приятнее/Слушать голоса цветов,/Шепчущих: «Это он!» —/Склоняя головку,/Когда я прохожу по саду,/Чем видеть темные ружья/Стражи, убивающей/Тех, кто хочет/Меня убить./Вот почему я никогда,/Нет, никогда не буду Правителем!]

Student: All rulers don’t have (to sign death sentences).

AG: Well, no, they don’t, but in this case, he found.. what he was saying was, that most of the people who held the Revolution wound up killing (or) beginning to kill. So he didn’t think it was possible to take rulership for an actual.. well, it’s very simple – “I find it much nicer/ to look at the stars/ Than to sign a death sentence.”..because all the rulers claimed it was necessary to sign death sentences. They used to say that it was absolutely necessary. That was 1917-1922 (and (19)22 was probabily the year that (Nikolai) Gumilev – “The Lost Tram Car” – was shot  [Editorial note – actually, it was in 1921]

Student: Could that possibly be the incident he’s describing there?

AG: No, there were lots of people shot

Student: Yeah

AG: I mean there were a lot then. Actually, then, his check-out on power itself, on the tiger  power – or , say, the political power – 1923 this was published (I don’t know when it was written – “I saw a tiger by the forest,/And he smiled and he blew in a reed stalk/His animal muscles were moving like ripples/And his gazes sparkled with mockery./With an elegant tilt of the head,/An elegant maiden was talking to him./”O lions and tigers! she said./This art you lack – you can’t sing”.
I guess that would be his comment on the leaders of the Revolution at that point.

[Audio for the above may be heard here, starting approximately five minutes in and concluding at approximatetly ten minutes in]  

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