I know the truth

by Marina Tsvetaeva

English version by Elaine Feinstein
Original Language Russian

I know the truth -- give up all other truths!
No need for people anywhere on earth to struggle.
Look -- it is evening, look, it is nearly night:
what do you speak of, poets, lovers, generals?

The wind is level now, the earth is wet with dew,
the storm of stars in the sky will turn to quiet.
And soon all of us will sleep under the earth, we
who never let each other sleep above it.

-- from Tsvetayeva: Selected Poems, by Marina Tsvetaeva / Translated by Elaine Feinstein

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/ Image by Leon Biss /

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I return to this poem regularly, and it brings me to a halt each time. There is such a mature, weary compassion in these lines.

The question is not whether we will live or die. We all live (though we may not always feel as if we do). And we all die (though we may discover that death is not what we imagined).

The real question is, while we move and act upon the earth, do we ease the suffering of others or add to it? Will we let each other rest above the earth, or only beneath it?

Life and death are a given. It is what we do along our journey between those two road markers that matters.

The whole while the earth says, "Is not every beautiful thing yours already?" And the night sky, for all its immense movement, is completely at peace. So what has humanity lost sight of?

Recommended Books: Marina Tsvetaeva

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women Tsvetayeva: Selected Poems Tsvetaeva Milestones A Russian Psyche: The Poetic Mind of Marina Tsvetaeva
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I know the truth