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This Sunday (October 8th) would be the 125th birthday of Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941), one of the most important Russian poets of the 20th century. In her memory, learn about her life and read ten of her most famous quotes in Russian and in English. Which quote is your favorite?
Marina Tsvetaeva (Мари́на Ива́новна Цвета́ева)
Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow on October 8, 1892. Her father was a professor and her mother a concert pianist. She studied literary history at Sorbonne in Paris at 16 and published her first collection of poem at the age of 18. She married fellow poet Sergei Effron in 1912 and they had two daughters and a son. Although she loved Effron intensely, she was also known to have several passionate love affairs, including with the poets Osip Mandelstam and Sofia Parnok, who were also the subjects of some of her poems.
Tsvetaeva had a difficult life during a tumultous period of history. During the Moscow famine, unable to feed them herself, she placed her daughters in a state orphanage, where one died of starvation in 1919. Her family emigrated in 1922, first to Berlin, then Prague, and finally settled in Paris, where they lived in poverty and were shunned by the expatriate community due to her husband’s connections with the Soviet secret police.
She returned to Stalin’s Soviet Union in 1939, where she did not receive a warm welcome. Her husband was excuted and her daughter sent to a labor camp for espionage. Unable to publish or otherwise support herself and her son, she commited suicide in 1941.
During her life, Tsvetaeva’s poetry was much admired by other important poets such as Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova, but it was only 20 some years after her death that her poems would become more widely known and appreciated. Tsvetaeva is known for her original style of lyrical poetry, which formed a bridge between two seemingly contradictory schools of Acmeism and symbolism. Her poetry is passionate and deals especially with female sexuality and emotions. Dmitri Shostakovich later put six of Tsvetaeva’s poems to music, and her poems have been translated into many languages.
In her memory, learn about her life and read ten of her most famous quotes. Do you understand the Russian? Which quote is your favorite? Do you disagree with any of them?
1. Крылья — свобода, только когда раскрыты в полёте, за спиной они — тяжесть.
Wings are freedom only when they are wide open in flight. On one’s back they are a heavy weight.
2. Никто дважды не вступал в ту же реку. А вступал ли кто дважды в ту же книгу?
No one has ever stepped twice into the same river. But did anyone ever step twice into the same book?
3. Женщины говорят о любви и молчат о любовниках, мужчины – обратно.
Women talk about love and keep quiet about lovers. Men do the opposite.
4. В мире ограниченное количуство душ и неограниченное количество тел.
In the world, there is a limited number of souls and an unlimited number of bodies.
5. Вся жизнь делится на три периода: предчувствие любви, действие любви и воспоминания о любви.
Every life is divided into three periods: anticipating love, loving, and remembering love.
6. Нет на земле второго Вас.
In the world, there is no second you.
7. Если что-то болит – молчи, иначе ударят именно туда.
If something hurts, be quiet. Otherwise, they will hit right there.
8. Спасибо тем, кто меня любил, ибо они дали мне прелесть любить других, и спасибо тем, кто меня не любил, ибо они дали мне прелесть любить себя.
Thank you to those who loved me, because they gave me the pleasure loving others, and thank you to those who didn’t love me, because they gave me the pleasure of loving myself.
9. Встречаться нужно для любви, для остального есть книги.
Dating is necessary for love; for everything else, there are books.
10. Мечтать ли вместе, спать ли вместь, но плакать всегда в одиночку.
Dream together, sleep together, but always cry alone.