I took this picture a few days ago in Venice, on the island of San Michele, on the island of the dead, where Stravinsky, Diaghilev, Vail and Brodsky found a haven. On the marble tombstone of Joseph Brodsky, a note was taped with adhesive tape: “Greetings to you, Joseph, from St. Petersburg. Sorry. It’s lonely without you. See you. VC.”. Who is (or is) “VK”, I don’t know. The note got wet, at this time in Venice there were heavy rains. I think that now it has simply been washed off the marble slab.
I remembered her only because this piece of wet paper, like many other testimonies, came to the peculiarities of the memory of this poet and man. He is treated like a living person. Everyone – reading it or remembering it – enters into a dialogue with it, deeply personal and even intimate. Each of his readers and friends has his own Brodsky, belonging to the territory of communication with him. his closest friend, Kees Verheil, his Slavist from Amsterdam, turned to me: “…I have been talking to him for several years in a row. We meet at least once a week.
This happens in my dreams, recurring with amazing regularity. We don’t meet in Russia, maybe in Paris, or in Rome, or in Amsterdam… We talk. Chance and I, and he knows that he is dead, that he is no more. But this does not interfere with our conversation in any way, the point is not even in the content of these dreams. The main thing is the process of communication itself… When I wake up, I perfectly remember his face, mood, expression of his eyes, gestures, facial expressions, I hear his voice. But I don’t remember what we died about. I strain my memory, trying to catch some details of the conversation, but in vain. And I say to myself: well, it’s okay, there’s not much left until the next meeting … ”Maybe the mysterious“ V.K. ” Is that Verheil Case? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter in the end. The main thing is who and what remains a person among people.
In May last year, in the courtyard of Muruzi’s famous St. Petersburg house at the crossroads of Pestel and Liteiny Avenue, his friends gathered: the whole poetic world of Brodsky’s 75th birthday at that time. The poet grew up in this house and in this courtyard, from where he was forced to leave forever.
This courtyard and this house are known to all his admirers and friends. But this time a man came here who was here for the first time – his daughter Anna-Maria. She was his happiness, he called her Nyusha. He died when Nyusha was not even three years old. So what does she remember about her father? Of course, she was surrounded by journalists who asked many questions, including those who were interested in what she had read from Brodsky. I remember how well she answered. She said that she did not read much, that she would continue to read little and slowly in order to prolong this association with her father for the rest of her life. It’s her way of remembering him.
Anna-Maria’s poem “To My Father”, which you will read today, worries in Russian. This is the first result of her communication with her father’s poems, the revived memory of him. This and her first poetic response to his poem “My daughter” pursued to her.
It only remains for me to add that Nastya Kuznetsova, the poet’s daughter, who permanently lives in St. Petersburg, took part in the translation of the poems by the well-known translator and connoisseur of Brodsky’s poetry Andrei Olear. In the same courtyard, the sisters met, hugged and cried. This is how amazingly the life of Joseph Brodsky continues in hundreds, and maybe thousands of lives of those who love and read him.
MY DAUGHTER / MY DAUGHTER
Give me another life and I will sing
at the Raffaella Cafe. Or just sit
there. Though a closet in the corner stick around for the time being,
if life and the Creator are not so generous.
Yet, since the century does not go
without jazz and caffeine, I accept the thought
a hundred dried up, twenty years to the end of dust and varnish
squinting at the light, flourish on your deeds.
In general, mind you – I’ll be there. Perhaps it
part of my paternity is a crime for you,
especially when objects are older than you and bigger,
strict and silent: it is remembered.
So love them, even initially a little about them, –
let it be a ghost-silhouette, a thing that can be touched,
along with the worthless carbon that I leave here
in the language of the common, in these clumsy songs.
Joseph Brodsky, 1994
Translation by Andrey Olear
TO MY FATHER / TO MY FATHER
I touch the misted glass
and a shadow in the night for a brief moment of warmth
suddenly become closer, the thread trembles …
Imagination? May be…
You wrapped your coat tighter
strumming rhymes in your pocket, but
found peace on distant shores.
How to breathe there? Is it scary there? This fear
unknown to me now, since life is a gift,
ups and downs, the rules of the game,
but from that frozen side of the glass
you wait, I’m a performance. And I came to you.
All memory – inside the voice and outside –
responds to you in me.
The last bell in college rings,
but you are not here, you are where your granite is.
Anguish, love and voices in the dark
I will never have enough on earth.
Anna-Maria Brodskaya, 2015
Translation by Anastasia Kuznetsova and Andrey Olear
Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta
Text: Yuri Lepsky, Rossiyskaya Gazeta
Photo: Yuri Lepsky, Rossiyskaya Gazeta