Tuesday, December 25, 2018

A Nativity Poem by Konstantin Vaginov

Konstantin Vaginov (unknown photographer, circa 1920) / Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

My Finger Gleams Like the Star of Bethlehem
   by Konstantin Vaginov

My finger gleams like the star of Bethlehem:
the garden looms within it, a stream sighs.
Now Jesus comes, drifts off beneath a fig tree,
and plays dreary old songs on a Greek lyre.

I had walked with care around a house doomed
to fall, then I took twelve soft, shaky steps
and set off through the Haymarket to hear the star
smoldering above black snow and icy streets.

From “Petersburg Nights,” 1919-1923

Translated from the Russian by Jamie Olson