Eduard Bagritsky and Odessa’s Amorous Cats

Cat 04.jpg

As you might have guessed from my last post, I’m something of a cat person. It’s no wonder, really — Odessa’s a cat lover’s town. Like most seaports, it’s swimming with cats. Even so, looking over the photos Jenny and I took during our trip, I was amazed to see just how many felines had sneaked into the camera roll. This inspired me to translate a poem by another Odessan cat fancier, Eduard Bagritsky, whose work I’ve shared twice before. “Cats,” from 1919, is a lovely little ode to the passionate furballs of my hometown.

On the roof, behind the chimney,
with the kind moon looking down,
sticking up their tails so firmly,
they’re already crowding round.
Where the milk is sweet and fragrant,
where the fatback’s gleaming white,
just like little balls of velvet,
they’re rolled up and sleeping tight.
All enkindled by the heat,
they have had their fill of food —
you can’t tempt them, roasted meat,
though you do smell awful good.
How they love the evening warmth
of the kitchen, near the fire,
and the soup’s delicious steam
curling, rising ever higher.
O the darkness of the stairwell!
How the attic smacks of mice…
And that broken window, where they
spy on doves through slitted eyes.
When the house grows still and frigid
neath the waves of evening air,
they come slinking round the edges
of the roof in loving pairs.
To every creature, love’s the same:
the gentlest, loftiest delight —
and the kind moon summons them
to the rooftop every night.

Cat 01.jpg

Cat 02.jpg

Cat 03.jpg

Cat 05.jpg

Cat 07.jpg

Cat 08.jpg

Cat 09.jpg

Cat 10.jpg

Cat Graffiti.jpg

“The Cat Awaits Your Visit”

17 thoughts on “Eduard Bagritsky and Odessa’s Amorous Cats

  1. Oh Boris, how wonderful to hear that you are a fellow cat person as well. I have two handsome black and white cats, Henry and Rufus. One of my favorite things about visiting Rome were the cats, especially the ones that live in the Colosseum. They are so friendly!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Great timing! He also wrote a heartbreaking cat poem for his sister, which I have carried around with me for years but have not yet been able to translate…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Can’t believe I missed the cat post. I’ve loved cats all my life fellow Cancerian and though I don’t have one now because of my space and travels my neighbor’s cat is as much as mine in that he hangs out on the mat outside my door and greets me each morning and evening as I enter the gate and actually escorts me to my door. I think he must have been a butler in a previous life. Thank you for the wonderful translation and the truly fabulous cat pics. And thanks in advance for translating the poem in your pocket. I know you’ll find the right words for it. I have a soft spot for friends who carry poems around. Somehow that additional news is not surprising!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisa, I love the image of the carnivorous reincarnated butler! Is he a tuxedo cat, by any chance? And thank you for encouraging me to keep chasing Yesenin’s poem, that tempting ball of yarn…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s