poets I’m reading: Colours by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

The page marker in my copy of Yevtushenko’s Selected Poems is decades old. I reproduce the poem today in deference to that younger reader.

Colours – Yevgeny Yevtushenko

When your face

appeared over my crumpled life

at first I understood

only the poverty of what I have.

Then its particular light

on woods, on rivers, on the sea,

became my beginning in the coloured world

in which I had not yet had my beginning.

I am so frightened, I am so frightened,

of the unexpected sunrise finishing,

of revelations

and tears and the excitement finishing.

I don’t fight it, my love is this fear,

I nourish it who can nourish nothing,

love’s slipshod watchman.

Fear hems me in.

I am conscious that these minutes are short

and that the colours in my eyes will vanish

when your face sets.

 

From: Yevtushenko. Selected Poems. Penguin Books, 1962 – Translated by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi


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