I found this astonishing poem a few years ago: Happy New Year everyone.
The One, the Only Book
by Velimir Khlebnikov
I have seen the black Vedas,
the Koran and the Gospels
and the books of the Mongols
on their silken boards –
all made of dust, of earth´s ashes,
of the sweet-smelling dung
that Kalmyk women use each morning for fuel –
I have seen them go to the fire,
lie down in a heap and vanish
white as widows in clouds of smoke
in order to hasten the coming
of the One, the Only Book,
whose pages are enormous oceans
flickering like the wings of a blue butterfly
and the silk thread marking the place where the reader rests his gaze
is all the great rivers in a dark-blue flood:
Volga, where they sing the Razin songs at nighttime,
yellow Nile, where they worship the sun,
Yangtze-Kiang, oozing with people,
and mighty Missiissippi, where the Yankees strut
in star-spangled trousers, yes, in pants
all covered with stars.
and Ganges, whose dark people are trees of the mind,
and Danube, white people in white shirts
whose whiteness is reflected in the water,
and Zambezi, whose people are blacker than boots,
and stormy Ob, where they hack out their idol
and turn him to face the wall
whenever they eat forbidden fat
and Thames, which is boring, boring.
Race of Humanity, you are Readers of the Book
whose cover bears the creator´s signature,
the sky-blue letters of my name!
Yes, you, careless reader,
look up! Pay attention!
You let your attention wander idly,
as if you were still in catechism class.
Soon, very soon you will read
these mountain chains and these enormous oceans!
They are the One, the Only Book!
The whale leaps from its pages,
and the eagle´s pinion bends the page´s edge
as it swoops across sea waves, the breast
of ocean, to rest in the osprey´s bed.
– translated from the Russian by Paul Schmidt