Gennady Aygi

Translated by Sarah Valentine


Around our poles and posts
our gates and gardens —

everywhere — more and more — silence… —

oh, give us simple strength! —

strength — as the branch knocks against another branch
now — I place my mug on the table
sister closes the gate
the wind picks up again —

and like that we are home
the sun has set below the hills
around the garden posts —

its small spark
to the deepening dusk


Dog running through wheat
as if amid the shouts
of my whole — swift — childhood
the setting sun



From that little wood,
forever or for a long time,
the mushrooms disappeared.
It happened gradually,
over maybe thirty years.
And now, when I recall
their disappearance, their “departure,”
it seems like one grand movement,
like — the hushing
of one very long orchestra,
one very long choir.
GENNADY AYGI was a Chuvash poet who wrote linguistically innovative verse in Russian during the late and post-Soviet eras. He was born in Shaimurzino, Chuvashia but lived in Moscow for most of his adult life. As a young man he studied poetry at the Moscow Literary Institute and worked at the Mayakovsky museum, where he came into contact with other avant-garde writers, artists and composers. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literary in 1991 and his poetry has been translated into over a dozen languages worldwide. He is considered one of the greatest Russian-language poets of the twentieth century.

About the translator:

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 12.19.09 PM
SARAH VALENTINE is the translator of Into the Snow: Selected Poems of Gennady Aygi (Wave Books, 2011). Her poems, translations and creative non-fiction have appeared in journals such as Callaloo, Zoland Poetry, diode, the anthology Two Lines: Some Kind of Beautiful Signal, and Prairie Schooner. She received a PhD in Russian Literature from Princeton University, focusing on contemporary Russian poetry and poetics. Currently, Valentine teaches Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at Northwestern University. Her monograph Witness and Transformation: The Poetics of Gennady Aygi is forthcoming from Academic Studies Press in 2015.

Read more by Gennady Aygi:

Author information and links to books
Five poems

Read more by Sarah Valentine:

Article and two poems at Gwarlingo
Sarah Valentine reads Gennady Aygi