I’ve written about Eduard Bagritsky (1895-1934), one of Odessa’s finest literary citizens, once before, in connection with Isaac Babel and The Odessa Review. In that earlier post, I offered my translation of his colorful Futurist juvenilia. But as much as I enjoyed rendering those charming quatrains, the real challenge lay ahead. My white whale, as it were, was the poet’s soul-stirring sea chantey “Smugglers” (Kontrabandisty, 1927), and now I feel I’ve finally brought it ashore. The stalwart crew of The Odessa Review were kind enough to post my effort on their site, and I hope it brings to their readers a fraction of the joy it has brought to me.
Whereas Bagritsky, as I write in my brief introduction, was essentially a romantic poet, the contemporary Polish master Ryszard Krynicki is a far more complicated case. Two new collections of his work have recently appeared in English, and I reviewed both for the TLS (2 February 2018).