I am informed by wood s lot that today would have been Joseph Brodsky’s 64th birthday. (How could he not have made it to 56? Unbelievable.) There you will find many excellent links; I am simply going to reproduce his own self-translation “Elegy.”
About a year has passed. I’ve returned to the place of battle,
to its birds that have learned their unfolding of wings from a subtle
lift of a surprised eyebrow, or perhaps from a razor blade
—wings, now the shade of early twilight, now of stale bad blood.
Now the place is abuzz with trading in your ankles’ remnants, bronzes
of sunburnt breastplates, dying laughter, bruises,
rumors of fresh reserves, memories of high treason,
laundered banners with imprints of the many who since have risen.
All’s overgrown with people. A ruin’s a rather stubborn
architectural style. And the heart’s distinction from a pitch-black cavern
isn’t that great; not great enough to fear
that we may collide again like blind eggs somewhere.
At sunrise, when nobody stares at one’s face, I often
set out on foot to a monument cast in molten
lengthy bad dreams. And it says on the plinth “Commander
in chief.” But it reads “in grief,” or “in brief,” or “in going under.”
(If anyone can give me a link to the original Russian, I will add it here.)