[FPSPACE] translation of that poem, & some thoughts

Keith Gottschalk kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
Sat Feb 7 12:55:53 EST 2015


   After one of our members kindly got a machine translation of that poem, I asked two Russians separately to translate it for me. For poems, I find it's always best to have several translations side-by-side, & synthesize the best lines. One of the Russians commented that it was not a great literary poem, but we expected that as it is not by a great poet, but a cry of despair from an engineer leader.

    Without in any way arguing with the above observation, I do find that the two opening stanzas & the closing stanza of the translation faintly echo for me the opening & closing lines in the translation of Pushkin's "The Bronze Horseman". & the Amur quay echos the line about Peter's ships pushing off from their quays. Otherwise there would be no point in alluding to Vostochny as being on the Amur riverside, when it is literally not.  Maybe it is just the sad tone of voice. I would be interested to hear what others think.

 Maybe Mark Wade can please add it to the space poems in astronautix dot com?

     Notwithstanding the despair of the poet, we can assert that Russian nationalists are prouder of their cosmonautics heritage than even US citizens are proud of NASA. So even the current Russian fiscal crisis with halved oil & gas prices for at least the next four years, will not see their space programme as badly hurt as during the 1990s catastrophe.   - Keith.

 At the foundation of thisbuilding
(I do not sin against thetruth!)
was a poet - his knowledgefrom heaven -

together with his youngfriends.
They thought: change thestructures
give support to the bestminds
& the Motherland, whereKorolev created,
will widen into cosmos.
But in the traditions of ourculture,
only victims are destined tobe talented,
& under the billboard ofthe new structure
a new commandant installedhimself...

... Alas, fateful yearsspeedily passed,
the guiding star vanished.
Cosmonautics, Russia's pride,
quietly went nowhere.
The legacy of the great waseaten away.
One general came afteranother.
& the rain of oblivionwashed away
the luminous faces of thecreators.
Students drained away to theWest.
Doctors of sciences - some toChina, some to Iran.
& only the old films
protected the Russians'prestige.
Building paper mountains
our bureaucrats withered& shrunk
& without a purpose, justin case,
poured concrete into the Amur quay.
How quick are ourresolutions!
How strong is the reformistitch!
Only will the changing ofstructures & ministers
boost fruitful work?
Infinite impulse toperfection:
MOM, Minprom, RKA, OR-Ka-Ka...

Who's against reforming theagency?
But why in the shape of GK?!
The poet stands crying
on the threshold of theUniverse.
He looks into the distantcosmos, his eyes wide open,
but there are no Russiansthere...

                                    - Sergey Zhukov (director ofSkolkovo R&D group)
MOM - Ministry of GeneralMachine Building    

Minprom - Ministryof Industry
RKA - Roskosmos
OR-Ka-Ka -  ORKK, United Rocket &Space Corporation                                 

GK - State Committee
An 'Epitaphfor Russian Space Agency' poem by Sergey Zhukov, thereformist director of Skolkovo R&D group. on Facebook

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