On Early Trains
This winter I was outside Moscow,
by Boris Pasternak
But when the time for work came round,
Through the blizzard, biting frost and snow,
I made the journey into town.
At the hour I stepped outside the door
Not a soul could be seen on the street,
And through the forest darkness drifted forth
The crunching echo of my tramping feet.
At the crossing I was greeted
By the willows of the vacant plot.
The constellations towered above the world
In the dark chill of January's pit.
And usually, there behind the yards,
The number forty or the early mail
Would overhaul me, pulling hard,
But the six forty-five was my own train.
Suddenly some invisible tentacles
Would draw into a circle lines of light,
As a massive searchlight hurtled past
On to the viaduct out of the night.
Once in the carriage's tuffy heat
I would allow myself to sink
Into the state of innate weakness
I imbibed with my mother's milk.
Through all the struggles of the past,
Through all the years of war and want,
I gazed on Russia'a unique face
In silent awe and wonderment.
Passing beyond this adoration,
I worshipped as I looked around
At countrywomen, students, workers
Living on the edge of town.
I could not see a single trace
Of servitude imposed by poverty.
Each new discomfort and each change
Was borne with lordly dignity.
Bunched close together in a group,
Boys and girls sat reading there,
Struck varied poses as they read,
Drinking in the words like vital air.
Moscow greeted us in darkness
Already lined with silver light,
As we emerged from underground,
Out of the ambiguity of night.
Our future pressed against the rails,
Flooding my senses as they went,
With floral soap's lingering trace
And honey-cakes' enticing scent.