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, and then 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