I sit by the window

I sit by the window

The Russian-American poet Joseph Brodsky was responsible for the poem I sit by the window. This is a moment when translations step in and seem to take away some of the strength of the original poem. At least, that is what the critics wrote about this poem.

You either love or hate the poetry written by Brodsky. This Russian poet fled to the United States in the seventies and many of his work is translated into English. The problem occurs when these translations aren’t good ones. Unfortunately, not everyone in this world speaks the same language.

In this poem the message seems to be: just sit back, there is no need to achieve everything. This can be explained in a negative way. It looks as if the poet doesn’t want us to try (anything). When you read closer, there is more. The poet wants us to know that you don’t need to be great all the time. There must be the acceptance that you are good at some things and as for the rest: you are not and you shouldn’t be.

I sit by the window

I sit by the window

I said fate plays a game without a score,
and who needs fish if you’ve got caviar?
The triumph of the Gothic style would come to pass
and turn you on–no need for coke, or grass.
I sit by the window. Outside, an aspen.
When I loved, I loved deeply. It wasn’t often.
 
 
I said the forest’s only part of a tree.
Who needs the whole girl if you’ve got her knee?
Sick of the dust raised by the modern era,
the Russian eye would rest on an Estonian spire.
I sit by the window. The dishes are done.
I was happy here. But I won’t be again.
 
 
I wrote: The bulb looks at the flower in fear,
and love, as an act, lacks a verb; the zer-
o Euclid thought the vanishing point became
wasn’t math–it was the nothingness of Time.
I sit by the window. And while I sit
my youth comes back. Sometimes I’d smile. Or spit.
 
 
I said that the leaf may destory the bud;
what’s fertile falls in fallow soil–a dud;
that on the flat field, the unshadowed plain
nature spills the seeds of trees in vain.
I sit by the window. Hands lock my knees.
My heavy shadow’s my squat company.
 
 
My song was out of tune, my voice was cracked,
but at least no chorus can ever sing it back.
That talk like this reaps no reward bewilders
no one–no one’s legs rest on my sholders.
I sit by the window in the dark. Like an express,
the waves behind the wavelike curtain crash.
 
 
A loyal subject of these second-rate years,
I proudly admit that my finest ideas
are second-rate, and may the future take them
as trophies of my struggle against suffocation.
I sit in the dark. And it would be hard to figure out
which is worse; the dark inside, or the darkness out.
Joseph Brodsky
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