Anzhelina Polonskaya

The Museum of Mortal Sins | Soul
May 13, 2012 Polonskaya Anzhelina

The Museum of Mortal Sins


We stood up to our waists in the icy water

of our own fearlessness.

It was November and the wind whipped the banners

past our winter wound windows.

I listened to the hoarse breathing of a dying stallion

in my heart and to the birds,

spooked by a random shot.

I’d spent a quarter of a lifetime

on your leprous island

and now I was only asking for the freedom

of a butterfly or beetle.

Around Christmas you finally sent me

a box filled with silence.

I deposited it in the museum of mortal sins.



Музей смертных грехов


Мы стояли по пояс в ледяной воде

собственного бесстрашия.

Был ноябрь, и ветер нёс хоругви мимо

наших вплетённых в зиму окон.

Я слышала, как хрипит умирающий конь

в моём сердце, и как напуганы птицы

выстрелом наугад.

Я провела почти четверть жизни

на твоём острове прокажённых,

и теперь просила для себя той немногой свободы,

которой обладают бабочки или жуки.

Под Рождество, ты наконец-то прислал мне

коробку, наполненную тишиной.

И я пошла и сдала её в музей смертных грехов.





The soul flows like drops of mercury from rock to rock.

In that time a boy, catching fish, can grow old and


While I wait endlessly on St. Helena.


My soul, in this darkness a kiss is unknown.


Like that boy you can lie with your grey hair in the sand

Squeezing your silver gills in your sleeves

While the rock falls to its knees before you.





Из камня в камень, как капля ртути, перетекает душа.

За это время мальчик, удящий рыбу, готов состариться и


А я всё жду на острове Св. Елены.


Душа моя, во тьме сей поцелуй неведом.


Ты можешь, словно мальчик тот лежать сединами в песке,

зажав серебряные жабры в рукавах.

И камень сам падёт и пред тобою станет на колени.




Translator: Andrew Wachtel is Professor of the Humanities at Northwestern University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of ten books and more than a hundred articles on Russian and South Slavic literature, culture, and society. In 2004 he published Anzhelina Polonskaya, A Voice: Selected Poems (Northwestern University Press).  In 2013 Polonskaya and Wachtel will release a bilingual edition of Polonskaya’s poems entitled Paul Klee’s Boat (Zephyr Press).

Anzhelina Polonskaya was born in Malakhovka, a small town near Moscow. She has had numerous books of poetry published in Russia. An English version of her book A Voice appeared in the acclaimed “Writings from an Unbound Europe” series at Northwestern University Press. This book was shortlisted for the Corneliu Popescu Prize for European Poetry in Translation. Translations of her work have appeared in World Literature Today, Poetry Review, American Poetry Review, and International Poetry Review. In October 2011 the “Oratorio-Requiem” Kursk, whose libretto consists of ten of Polonskaya’s poems debuted at the Melbourne Arts Festival. In 2012 a bilingual edition of her newer poems will be published by Zephyr Press under the title Paul Klee’s Boat. Polonskaya’s work has been translated into Dutch, Slovenian, Latvian, Spanish and other languages. She is preparing a new volume of poetry for publication.