Boris Pasternak

White Night

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I keep thinking of times that are long past,
Of a house in the Petersburg Quarter.
You had come from the steppeland Kursk Province,
Of a none-too-rich mother the daughter.

You were nice, you had many admirers.
On that distant white night we were sitting
On your window-sill, looking from high on
On the phantom-like scene of the city.

The street-lamps, like gauze butterflies fluttering,
Had been touched by the chill of the morning.
My soft words, as I opened my heart to you,
Matched the slumbering vistas before us.

We were plighted with timid fidelity
To the very same nebulous mystery
As the cityscape spreading unendingly
Far beyond the Neva, through the distances.

In that far-off impregnable wilderness,
Wrapped in springtime twilight ethereal,
Woodland glades and dense thickets were quivering
With mad nightingales' thunderous paeans.

Crazy resonant warbling ran riot,
And the voice of this plain-looking songster
Sowed derangement, ecstatic delight
In the depth of the mesmerised copsewood.

To those parts Night, a barefoot vagabond,
Stole its way along ditches and fences.
From our window-sill, after it tagging,
Was the trail of our cooed confidences.

To the words of this colloquy echoing
In the orchards beyond the tall palings
Spreading branches of apple and cherry trees
Swathed themselves in their pearly-white raiment.

And the trees, like so many pale phantoms,
Waved their farewell, along the road thronging,
To White Night, that all-seeing enchanter,
Who was now to North Regions withdrawing.

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Boris Pasternak