Lamp found under bushel (1) The One, The Only Book

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


Author: spanglishrose

love my life in Gijón, Asturias, Spain, in the slow lane, but connected to the world through the marvel of technology

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