[FPSPACE] translation of that poem, & some thoughts

jameseoberg at comcast.net jameseoberg at comcast.net
Sat Feb 7 22:10:07 EST 2015

Thanks for the insights, I felt sure there were literary allusions that went over my head... 
If we quote from this translation, who should we credit? 
Jim O 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Keith Gottschalk" <kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za> 
To: "fpspace" <fpspace at friends-partners.org> 
Sent: Saturday, February 7, 2015 11:55:53 AM 
Subject: Re: [FPSPACE] translation of that poem, & some thoughts 

Dear FPSPACErs, 

   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 this building 

(I do not sin against the truth!) 

was a poet - his knowledge from heaven - 

together with his young friends. 


They thought: change the structures 

give support to the best minds 

& the Motherland, where Korolev created, 

will widen into cosmos. 


But in the traditions of our culture, 

only victims are destined to be talented, 

& under the billboard of the new structure 

a new commandant installed himself... 


... Alas, fateful years speedily passed, 

the guiding star vanished. 

Cosmonautics, Russia's pride, 

quietly went nowhere. 


The legacy of the great was eaten away. 

One general came after another. 

& the rain of oblivion washed away 

the luminous faces of the creators. 


Students drained away to the West. 

Doctors of sciences - some to China, some to Iran. 

& only the old films 

protected the Russians' prestige. 


Building paper mountains 

our bureaucrats withered & shrunk 

& without a purpose, just in case, 

poured concrete into the Amur quay. 


How quick are our resolutions! 

How strong is the reformist itch! 

Only will the changing of structures & ministers 

boost fruitful work? 


Infinite impulse to perfection: 

MOM, Minprom, RKA, OR-Ka-Ka... 

Who's against reforming the agency? 

But why in the shape of GK?! 


The poet stands crying 

on the threshold of the Universe. 

He looks into the distant cosmos, his eyes wide open, 

but there are no Russians there... 


                                    - Sergey Zhukov (director of Skolkovo R&D group) 

MOM - Ministry of General Machine Building    

Minprom - Ministry of Industry 

RKA - Roskosmos 

OR-Ka-Ka -   ORKK, United Rocket & Space Corporation                                  

GK - State Committee 

An 'Epitaph for Russian Space Agency' poem by Sergey Zhukov, the reformist director of Skolkovo R&D group. on Facebook 

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