This year’s National Poetry Day has the theme of Freedom.

Among the events inspired by it is a reading - at Glasgow’s flourishing poetry club, St Mungo’s Mirrorball - devoted to modern Russian poets (Mitchell Library, 6-7pm).

Here, below, are two poems by Boris Pasternak, from a bilingual volume of his poems given to me in Moscow by his son Yvgevy, who in the 1990s was preparing formerly banned work by his father for publication in Russia. Both are translated by Lydia Pasternak Slater (Raduga publishers, Moscow).

             AFTER THE STORM 

The air is full of after-thunder freshness,

And everything rejoices and revives.

With the whole outburst of its purple clusters

The lilac drinks the air of paradise.


The gutters overflow; the change of weather

Makes all you see alive and new.

Meanwhile the shades of sky are growing lighter.

Beyond the blackest cloud the height is blue.


An artist’s hand with mastery still greater

Wipes dirt and dust off objects in his path.

Reality and life, the past and present,

Emerge transformed out of his colour-bath.


The memory of over half a life-time

Like swiftly passing thunder dies away.

The century is no more under wardship:

High time to have the future have its say.


It is not revolutions and upheavals

That clear the road to new and better days,

But revelations, lavishness and torments

Of someone’s soul, inspired and ablaze.



It’s a whistle blown ripe in a trice,

It’s the cracking of ice in a gale,

It’s a night that turns green leaves to ice,

It’s a duel of two nightingales.


It is sweet-peas run gloriously wild,

It’s the world’s twinkling tears in the pod,

It is Figaro like hot hail hurled

From the flutes on the wet flower bed.


It is all that the night hopes to find

On the bottom of deep bathing pools,

It’s the star carried to the fish-pond

In your hands, wet and trembling and cool.


This close air is as flat as the boards

In the pond. The sky’s flat on its face.

It would be fun if those stars guffawed –

But the universe is a dull place.