Fifteen Boys

(The following is the fourth in a series of five poems I am posting from The New Russian Poets: 1953 to 1966: An Anthology, selected, edited, and translated by George Reavey. I am also including my original photography with the posts.
This is a very early poem by Bella Akhmadulina, a highly regarded and award-winning poet of the Russian New Wave. While her writing subjects and style were often described as “apolitical,” she was known to speak out against the Soviet establishment.

Akhmadulina was one married to poet Yevgeny Yevtusheko, author of In Memory of the Poet Xenia Nekrasov in the previous post. Akhmadulina died in 2010.)

Bella Akhmadulina


Fifteen boys and, maybe, more,
or fewer than fifteen, maybe,
said to me
in frightened voices:
“Let’s go to a movie or the Museum of Fine Arts.”
I answered them more or less like this:
“I haven’t time.”
Fifteen boys presented me with snowdrops.
Fifteen boys in broken voices
said to me:
“I’ll never stop loving you.”
I answered them more or less like this:
“We’ll see.”

Fifteen boys are now living a quiet life.
They have done their heavy chores
of snowdrops, despair and writing letters.
Girls love them–
some more beautiful than me,
others less beautiful.
Fifteen boys with a show of freedom, and at times spite
salute me when we meet,
salute in me, when we meet,
their liberation, normal sleep and regular meals.

In vain you come to me, last boy.
I shall place your snowdrops in a glass of water,
and silver bubbles will cover
their stocky stems…
But, you see, you too will cease to love me,
and, mastering yourself, you’ll talk in a superior way,
as though you’ve mastered me,
and I’ll walk off down the street, down the street…



Featured Image:
Horse in Window, 2007. Alana Solomon. See more here.
Reavey, George, ed. The New Russian Poets: 1953-1966: An Anthology. Comp./Trans. George Reavey. 1st ed. New York: October House Inc., 1966.
Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “Fifteen Boys.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 25 May 2017. Web.

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