Sunday, September 12, 2004

A Grey Frock

Girl in a grey frock...

Your braids seem cotton-spun...
Girl, girl, to whom do you belong?

To my mother...Or to nobody.
If you wish--I shall be yours.

Girl in a grey frock...

Do you believe, dear, in a caress?
Sweet one, where are your eyes?

Here they are, my eyes. Empty ones,
Exactly the same as my mother's.

Girl in a grey frock,

What are you playing with?
What do you conceal from me?

Come now, do I have time to play?
There is much urgent work to do.

Now I spill a string of beads,
Now I wither the first sprout,
Now I cut pages out of books,
Or break the wings of a little bird...

Girl in a grey frock,

Girl with empty eyes,
Tell me, what is your name?

Everyone has his own name for me:
Call me whatever you like.

One calls me division,
Others call me doubt,
Or anguish.

Another calls me boredom,
Still another--pain...
And Mother-Death calls me Separation,

The girl in a grey frock...

--Zinaida Hippius

From The Penguin Book of Women Poets; probably one of the main reasons I like poetry anthologies best is I discover new poets I would never encounter otherwise. The New York Review of Books calls her "one of Russia's finest poets." I find this poem fairly mesmerizing; it's certainly enigmatic. And hey, there's nothing wrong with reading morbid Russian poetry of a Sunday evening. But Inspector Lynley is on now, so no more poetry tonight.


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