Featured Poem


In a cursed or forgotten by God
German village on a Sunday
or rather a day off
waiting for a train,

under the spring sun
I walked slowly
towards my lazy thoughts
as though to the beetles and midges
that had just woken.

Empty street.
Empty school. The school yard,
two football goals hung with nets,
and beyond them a familiar hillock
with grass pushing through like beard-stubble.

The other side of the street, through the tangled osier-bed,
up the steps, remains covered in earth, and overgrown with grass: this too reminds me of something,
and somehow hints at something.

If you look up from both sides of the steep slopes,
there are shards of glass, damp and dried-out
newspapers. A breeze. The sun is like the wind wandering
through the paper clouds,
if you want it’ll go on, if you want it will
stop suddenly.

Total uselessness.

On your road there are nails, staples,
rusted corks, the dried apricot of time,
a concrete path, the railway, grass here and there,
a living snowdrop or simple, ordinary wire...

In actual fact, all this
Leads one to think. But at the same time you have
A premonition: your life in its complete uselessness
Could be tied in with these things.

Do not grieve about this,
death in fact is neither high nor low.
It is not death that is greater
but the thought of the road to death
that overcomes death itself.

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About the translation:
Hamid Ismailov
Richard McKane
Original language:
2015 Number 2 - I WISH...

About the author

Original poet

Hamid Ismailov

HAMID ISMAILOV was the BBC World Service’s first writer-in- residence and represented Uzbekistan at the Poetry Parnassus in 20...

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Richard McKane

Richard McKane is a poet and translator and former human rights interpreter. He has translated from Russian Anna Akhmatova and...

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