The gold that was my hair has turnedby Marina Tsvetaeva
English version by Paul Graves
Original Language Russian
The gold that was my hair has turned
silently to gray. Don't pity me!
Everything's been realized,
in my breast all's blended and attuned.
-- Attuned, as all of distance blends
In the smokestack moaning on the outskirts.
And Lord! A soul's been realized:
The most deeply secret of your ends.
|-- from Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, Edited by Jane Hirshfield|
/ Photo by Petteri Sulonen /
Although Tsvetaeva's poetry often has the feeling of struggling against the weight of life, there is also a glimpse of something transcendent.
In this poem, I love the line "in my breast all's blended and attuned." This is often how mystical union is experienced, as a stunning, all-inclusive wholeness that, though everywhere, is somehow centered in the heart.
But in Tsvetaeva's troubled world, there is the odd juxtaposition of an inner wholeness that ironically emerges only in the soot of life: "--Attuned, as all of distance blends / In the smokestack moaning on the outskirts."
Yet, Marina Tsvetaeva closes her poem with sacred recognition: "And Lord! A soul's been realized: / The most deeply secret of your ends."
Perhaps Marina Tsvetaeva is consciously experiencing a state of union or, perhaps, as with many poets, the feeling is unconsciously noted. This almost-awareness of union can sometimes have a suggestion of reality; it feels as if it should be there, as if it probably is there, even if it is not yet directly perceived. The experience of union is not truly an "experience" since it has no beginning or end point. It is going on always, eternally, within each of us -- we just have to become still enough to recognize it. When that union hasn't wrenched us fully into its heavenly realms, it is still with us, quietly whispering of its existence in the inner ear. Many individuals who haven't had a full-blown mystical opening may still instinctively describe aspects of these states. It can filter through to the normal awareness when, as with many artists, one steps out of common mental patterning... and begins to listen to that whisper. And once you hear that quiet breath, who knows where it will lead you if you decide to follow it...