The hour was still. The surf lay at our feet.
You smiled, saying as we parted ways:
“We’ll meet again… Until a different day…”
That was a lie. We knew we’d never meet

Again. We had forever said goodbye.
The firmament with crimson fire glowed.
A sailboat’s sails puffed up until they bowed.
Above the sea resounded seagulls’ cries.

I gazed afar, in aching woe awash.
The sailboat flickered as it sailed away
Amidst the emerald waves’ untroubled slosh,
A swan in sunset with its wingtips splayed,

And it was borne into infinity.
Against the heavens’ pallid, golden haze
A thick cloud rose up unexpectedly
And, like an amethyst, was set ablaze.

By Andrey Bely
translated, from the Russian, by Max Thompson

Max Thompson is a translator of Russian prose and poetry, principally of the 20th century, and is currently working on Chingiz Aitmatov’s novella “The White Steamship.” He is a 2nd-year MFA student in creative writing and translation at the University of Arkansas.

Andrey Bely was a Symbolist poet, critic, and fiction writer of the early 20th century and is well-known for his novel Petersburg.