Andrei Voznesensky dies

I doubt you tuned in to your television or radio tonight (unless your a BBC R4 listener) and discovered that the poet, Andrei Voznesensky, has died at the age of 77. Most of you would probably won’t have heard of him. It is rare in this age of consumerism, style and image that we would ever consider a poet as a radical or even a star. Andrei Voznesensky, with a group of writers and fellow poets, including Yevgeny Yevtushenko, revived Russian writing from the hands of a post-Stalin government. He stood up against the legacy of the greatest mass murderer in history, he did this with poetry, Khruschev hated him (Nikita Khrushchev once threatened to exile him). He kept true to who he was, what he wrote. In 1976, he had a minor planet named after him and in 1978, Voznesensky was awarded the USSR State Prize. His books of poetry included The Triangular Pear and Antiworlds. He was a great poet and he should be read more in the West, here is a translation of The Antiworlds:

There is Bukashkin, our neighbour,
in underpants of blotting paper,
and, like balloons, the Antiworlds
hang up above him in the vaults.

Up there, like a magic daemon,
he smartly rules the Universe,
Antibukashkin lies there giving
Lollobrigida a caress.

The Anti-great-academician
has got a blotting paper vision.

Long live creative Antiworlds,
great fantasy amidst daft words!
There are wise men and stupid peasants,
there are no trees without deserts.

There’re Antimen and Antilorries,
Antimachines in woods and forests.
There’s salt of earth, and there’s a fake.
A falcon dies without a snake.

I like my dear critics best.
The greatest of them beats the rest
for on his shoulders there’s no head,
he’s got an Antihead instead.

At night I sleep with windows open
and hear the rings of falling stars,
From up above skyscrapers drop and,
like stalactites, look down on us.

High up above me upside down,
stuck like a fork into the ground,
my nice light-hearted butterfly,
my Antiworld, is getting by.

I wonder if it’s wrong or right
that Antiworlds should date at night.
Why should they sit there side by side
watching TV all through the night?
They do not understand a word.
It’s their last date in this world.
They sit and chat for hours, and
they will regret it in the end!
The two have burning ears and eyes,
resembling purple butterflies…

…A lecturer once said to me:
“An Antiworld? It’s lunacy!”

I’m half asleep, and I would sooner
believe than doubt the man’s word…
My green-eyed kitty, like a tuner,
receives the signals of the world.

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