Gary Light: Key West Blues (From Russian)

Only Gary Light would write a Russian poem that begins by paraphrasing from a Bob Dylan song, and then uses the word "poetry" in English as a loanword two lines later to rhyme with pó-vetru "in the wind."

Born in Kiev in 1967 to a Jewish family, Gary Light came to the US at the age of 13. He attended Northwestern University, and received a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. He is one of a number of American poets (Gabriel Preil, whom I've also translated, is another) who grew up quite at home in the US and in English, but elected to lead their life of linguistic creativity in another language. He has translated Russian poetry into English, but has expressed dissatisfaction with how his own English poetry turns out. As he himself puts it in this interview:
"I suppose I don't feel like a "Russian writer" in the narrow classic sense of that term, though the majority of my....initial literary 'baggage' comes from the Russian tradition. I'm probably an American author after all. But if I were to be absolutely precise, then I'd say I'm nearer to a symbiosis of cultural heritage in literature, a kind — if you will — of "cosmopolitanism" like that of authors such like Arthur Philips, Vasili Aksenov, Andre Codrescu, Leonard Cohen, Vladimir Nabokov, Umberto Ecco, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Ruiz Safon..."
Наверное, я все же не ощущаю себя «русским писателем» в узком классическом значении этого определения,  хотя  большинство моего....изначального литературного багажа – из традиций русской литературы. Наверное, скорее, все таки, я американский автор. Но если уже совсем точно, то мне ближе симбиоз культурных наследий в литературе, своего рода, если угодно, «космополитизм» таких авторов как Артур Филлипс, Василий Аксенов, Андре Кодреску, Леонард Коэн, Владимир Набоков, Умберто Эко, Габриэль Гарсия Маркес, Карлос Руис Сафон. 

Key West Blues 
By Gary Light
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me recite the original Russian

Time was she and I would come here together.
We were in our twenties. No words like "never"
had rung for us...bed-and-verse existence...
We lived on Paris and awful whiskey. 
Green apples and other such comforts we had were
more than enough for our love and laughter.
We didn't even know when the rays
of dusk and dawn set the dew ablaze. 
Clothing and food seemed a burden. Together...
Lips along bare skin whispered "forever." 
And the rest?...The end is cliché. I'll stop here,
But that in our lives was the fiery year
when the wall went tottering in Berlin,
and that bed of Marathon — water through the window,
like the fish in Key Largo, from the depths of our shoal.
It's not that we're mourning for that now. No,
that we today aren't man and wife...isn't it. 
(All that has long been thrown to sh...)
But that we became just like the rest, together,
forgive us Key West, and forget us forever. 

The Original:

Key West Blues
Гари Лайт

Когда-то мы с ней приходили сюда
нам было по двадцать, слова «никогда»,
для нас не звучали... Постель и стихи,
мы жили Парижем и виски плохим.
Нам яблок зеленых и прочих утех,
хватало с лихвой на любовь и на смех.
Мы даже не знали в котором часу
закат и рассвет зажигают росу.
Обузой казались одежда, еда
и губы по коже шептали – «всегда»...
Про дальше – нет смысла, банален исход
но в жизни у нас был тот пламенный год,
когда зашаталась в Берлине стена,
постель в Марафоне – вода из окна,
как рыба в Ки-Ларго – из самых глубин,
не то, что б сегодня об этом скорбим.
Совсем не о том, что не муж и жена,
все это давно уже послано на...
А просто, что стали такими как все,
прости нас Ки-Вест, и забудь насовсем

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