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,
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