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Excerpt from 'War of the Beasts and the Animals'

Look, the spirits have gathered at your bedside
Speaking in Lethean tongues
Hush-a-bye, so flesh and fine,
For what do you long? 


I smiled
He said, Marusya,
Marusya, hold on tight. And down
We went 


No vember
the cruellest month, the hoarsest mouth
driving from the dead clay
peasants forged to the field,
cows, curs, leaving over their dead body
the postbag snagged in the stream 
the tin spoon
the quick streams slipping the quicksilver 
      slip sliding away to the estuary 


This little piggy went to market
And this little piggy froze to death
And the landowner put a gun to his head
And a black car came for the officer 

The Greek in Odessa, the Jew in Warsaw
The callow young cavalryman
The Soviet schoolboy
Gastello the pilot 
And all those who died in this land

out of the murky pool, the surface still warmed by the sun
in a night in may, steps rus al ka and quickly begins her work 
throws her wet clothes from her tramples with her wet feet 
her black body shines her white smock cast 

mother, mother is that you? alyosha I don’t rightly know 

o swallow, swallow, is it her? she flew away, my friend


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About the translation:
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Sasha Dugdale
Original language:
2017 Number 3 - War of the Beasts and the Animals

About the author

Original poet


MARIA STEPANOVA is a poet, essayist, journalist and the author of ten poetry collections and two books of essays. She has been...

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Sasha Dugdale


Sasha Dugdale

Described as ‘one of the most original poets of her generation’ (Paul Batchelor, Guardian), Sasha Dugdale’s most recent collec...

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