Category Archives: PhotoFiles

Church of St. Nicholas in Pushkino near Moscow (1692-94)

saint-nicholas-church-pushkino

The church of St. Nicholas is the oldest building in Pushkino (Moscow Region). Its construction was blessed by the Patriarch Adrian and started in 1692. Apparently, Pushkino had already existed in the XIVth c. and for a long time belonged to the Church. St. Nicholas’s ensemble consists of two chapels, a bell-tower and a five-dome church. I made the photo from the car, so you can see the bell-tower and all five domes. The church had been rebuilt and restored many times throughout its history; however, uzorochie window frames and the 1912 art nouveau flooring have survived intact. The Classicist bell-tower erected in XIX century culminates in the Yaroslavl-type tent. The graveyard preserves several old burial monuments, including those of the Armand and Kamzolkins families.

 

Monday Verses: Michelangelo Buonarotti – Sulla morte di Cecchino Bracci (1545)

David Hockney, In Memoriam Cecchino Bracci

In 1544, a handsome 15-year-old boy named Cecchino (Francesco) Bracci died, leaving his uncle Luigi del Riccio shattered. At the time Luigi was a close friend and counsellor to Michelangelo Buonarotti, whom he kindly asked to execute a tomb for Cecchino and compose an epitaph.

I was reading a book by Sigmund Freud recently, and the Austrian narrated a story of how a young scientist asked him to review his work. Freud agreed; however, he couldn’t force himself to do it; eventually, he accepted that he didn’t actually want to do the review, and excused himself from the task.

Believe it or not, in 1540s in Italy Michelangelo was in the exact Freud’s position. He barely knew the boy, and it turned out that, in spite of his famous beauty, Cecchino never sat for a portrait. The only source of knowledge and inspiration was supposed to be Cecchino’s uncle, Luigi.

Michelangelo’s autograph of the epitaphs

A kind soul as it seems, Michelangelo took to the job. Luigi sent generous hampers to feed a rather indifferent Muse, which gifts the artist sometimes acknowledged in the draft epitaphs and sketches he’d sent back to del Riccio. Indeed, the texts we have demonstrate the hard times Michelangelo could have when the subject failed to ignite his poetic flame. Even the words stumble, and the lack of acquaintance with the boy fully manifests itself. Several months and almost fifty epitaphs later, Michelangelo pulled out from the job. And yet, in 1545 he’d sent Luigi a beautiful sonnet. It is a short study of the poet labour’s lost, with a beautiful ending that actually re-interprets one of the draft epitaphs, pointing out to the fact that it is a lover who preserves the image of the beloved. In spite of what we know of the Renaissance homoerotism, and Michelangelo’s in particular, I insist that Love here needs to be understood as a pure affection, not a hint at any sexual interest.

The tomb (image: Wikipedia)

The tomb was eventually made by another artist and can be seen at the church dell’Aracoeli in Rome. In 1962, David Hockney painted In Memoriam Cecchino Bracchi. This post also includes the sketches by Michelangelo that were eventually used as the basis for the tomb. The final epitaph was composed in Latin.

Drafts (image: Michelangelo.ru)
Drafts (image: Michelangelo.ru)

The Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky also translated two of the epitaphs on the death of Cecchino. I guess the interest in this series of epitaphs lies in several facts. The genre of an epitaph is unique in itself, and when a famous artist-cum-poet composes the whopping 42 quatrains, it does attract attention. Cecchino’s death devastated “the whole of Rome”, according to his uncle, although the age at which the boy died was likely the main reason. And even though Michelangelo’s pen and Muse refused to work together, he nonetheless appears to have been excited at the opportunity to explore one of the favourite themes of the early Baroque poetry, namely vanitas and preference given to the other life.

I didn’t try to translate the epitaphs. Yet back in 2008, when I discovered the 1545 sonnet, it captivated me so that I had to translate it. I must admit, I fully experienced Michelangelo’s own hardships, it was the first time I was translating from Italian, and as always before my task was to try and preserve the original rhythm and melody in the Russian translation. I was, however, satisfied with the result. It is included below, together with the English translation by John Addington Symonds.

In 2013 my Russian translation was awarded the First Diploma in the “Poetry” nomination in Music in Translation competition.

Michelangelo Buonarotti – Sulla morte di Cecchino Bracci

A pena prima aperti gli vidd’io
i suo begli occhi in questa fragil vita,
che, chiusi el dì dell’ultima partita,
gli aperse in cielo a contemplare Dio.
Conosco e piango, e non fu l’error mio,
col cor sì tardi a lor beltà gradita,
ma di morte anzi tempo, ond’è sparita
a voi non già, m’al mie ’rdente desio.
Dunche, Luigi, a far l’unica forma
di Cecchin, di ch’i’ parlo, in pietra viva etterna,
or ch’è già terra qui tra noi,
se l’un nell’altro amante si trasforma,
po’ che sanz’essa l’arte non v’arriva,
convien che per far lui ritragga voi.

John Addington Symonds – English Translation

Scarce had I seen for the first time his eyes,
Which to your living eyes were life and light,
When, closed at last in death’s injurious night,
He opened them on God in Paradise.
I know it, and I weep — too late made wise:
Yet was the fault not mine; for death’s fell spite
Robbed my desire of that supreme delight
Which in your better memory never dies.
Therefore, Luigi, if the task be mine
To make unique Cecchino smile in stone
For ever, now that earth hath made him dim,
If the beloved within the lover shine,
Since art without him cannot work alone,
You must I carve to tell the world of him.

Julia Shuvalova – Russian Translation

Я только раз взглянул в глаза того,
В чьем взоре ты черпал и жизнь, и свет,
Как в вечном сне он их сомкнул, чтоб впредь
Смотреть в раю на Бога самого.

Как глуп я был! И плачу оттого!
Но, право же, моей вины в том нет.
А ты хранишь вовеки счастья след,
Хотя бы Смерть и унесла его.

Луиджи, просишь ты: пусть сохранит
От тлена несравненную улыбку
Чеккино мой прославленный резец.

Но любящий любимого творит,
И, раз уж Муз дела идут не шибко,
Тебя мне должно взять за образец.

October 2008

На русском 

В июне 1544 г. в Риме умер юный Франческо (Чеккино) Браччи, племянник поэта Луиджи дель Риччо. Луиджи, хорошо знакомый с Микеланджело, обратился к поэту-художнику с просьбой создать надгробие для мраморного памятника Чеккино, а также написать текст эпитафии. Микеланджело согласился. До нас, действительно, дошли четыре эпитафии. Однако ни одна из них не украсила надгробие Чеккино, да и сам памятник, в конце концов, был успешно создан другим мастером.

Причина, по которой Микеланджело уклонился от исполнения договора, вероятнее всего изложена им самим в приведенном сонете. Вопреки тому, что можно прочесть в популярных статьях о глубине отношений Микеланджело и Чеккино, степень близости была невелика, что и подчеркивает первая строка сонета. Несмотря на то что Чеккино славился своей красотой, ни один художник, похоже, не соизволил запечатлеть его при жизни. Переводы нескольких набросков эпитафий, сделанные А. М. Эфросом, демонстрируют бесплодные усилия пера Микеланджело, которое дель Риччо изо всех сил старался подпитать – в прямом смысле этого слова:

Здесь рок послал безвременный мне сон,
Но я не мертв, хоть и опущен в землю:
Я жив в тебе, чьим сетованьям внемлю,
За то, что в друге друг отображен.

– Не хотел посылать вам это, потому что скверно вышло,
но форели и трюфели одолели бы и само небо. Вверяю себя вам.

К благой судьбе я смертью приведен:
Бог не желал меня увидеть старым,
И так как рок не властен большим даром,
Все, кроме смерти, было б мне в урон.

– Теперь, когда обещание пятнадцати надписей выполнено,
я больше уже не повинен вам ими, разве что придут
они из рая, где он пребывает.

Рисовать эскиз надгробия оказалось еще тяжелее: “Посылаю вам с запиской дыни, рисунка же пока нет, но я изготовлю его непременно со всем искусством, на какое способен”. И однако же искусства было мало:

Чеккино – в жизни, ныне – я у Бога,
Мирской на миг, небесный навсегда;
Счастливая вела меня звезда:
Где стольким в смерть, мне в жизнь была дорога.

– Так как поэзия этой ночью молчала, посылаю вам
четыре надписи, за три пряника скряги и вверяю себя
вам.

Андрей Вознесенский также перевел две из этих эпитафий:

Я счастлив, что я умер молодым.
Земные муки – хуже, чем могила.
Навеки смерть меня освободила
и сделалась бессмертием моим.

Я умер, подчинившись естеству.
Но тыщи дум в моей душе вмещались.
Одна на них погасла – что за малость?!
Я в тысячах оставшихся живу.
 

Проведя не один месяц в творческих муках, Микеланджело отклонил заказ дель Риччо. Но в 1545 г. написал для него вышеприведенный сонет. При отсутствии каких-либо изображений юноши, Луиджи, как любящий дядя и воспитатель, для которого смерть Чеккино явилась тяжелым ударом, мог бы единственным “источником” вдохновения для художника. На это и намекает Микеланджело, с присущими его веку изяществом и легким юмором предлагая изваять самого дель Риччо, дабы сохранить в веках память о Чеккино. Одновременно в этом сонете сходятся многие темы, поднятые Микеланджело в черновых вариантах эпитафий, в частности, в этих строках: “Я жив в тебе, чьим сетованьям внемлю, за то, что в друге друг отображен”.

История жизни и смерти Чеккино Браччи, о которой известно ровно столько, сколько можно извлечь из этих коротких посланий Микеланджело, послужила источником вдохновения для английского художника Дэвида Хокни (In Memoriam Cecchino Bracci, 1962).

В 2013 г. за перевод этого сонета я получила диплом I степени в номинации “Поэзия” на международном конкурсе перевода “Музыка перевода”.

Scottish Memories

On occasion of the International Women’s Day a few days ago I came across a photo on the House of Scotland page on Facebook, which turned to be a pleasant sight to see for many of my lady friends. Indeed what’s not to like? Long hair, a beard and mustache, and even a kilt and some leather. Just perfect.

When I went to Edinburgh last year I also bought myself a tartan scarf and a sporran, which is Scottish Gaelic for “purse”. You can see it in the picture. The shop I went in was run by an Eastern European guy who, when I entered, was serving a group of Italian women who were buying ladies’ kilts, their interpreter being a girl of 11, of their party, too. He happened to visit Manchester once for a football match, though sadly he somehow ended up going for a drink to a gay-friendly bar, which put him off Manchester. But the funniest moment was when he started discouraging people from going to other shops “because they were all owned by the Pakistanis and Indians”. “There are not many authentic shops left”, he was explaining in a noticeable Eastern European accent… I’ll leave it to you to contemplate the irony of the story.

The 1980 Olympic Games Memorabilia

As we know, the first time Russia got to host the Olympic Games was in 1980. Turns out, at home we’ve got quite a collection of the Olympic memorabilia, which I’ve now collated into a PDF document. What awaits you inside are postcards, tourist materials (phrasebooks etc.), advertising materials of the Soviet Railways, perpetual calendars until the year 2000, mascots and badges. Regarding mascots, apart from the famous Mishka there was also a Seal that represented Tallinn, Estonia where the sailing competitions were held. There is also a sleeve for a Russian adaptation of Pablo Neruda’s Xoaquin Murieta’s at the Lencom Theatre. My parents went to see it in early 1980, and bought a vynil disk that had already been adorned with the Olympic symbol. Browse the PDF, ask questions, and I’ll find you the answers.

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The Olympics 2014: Thoughts and Hopes

I was born in the year when Russia (then the USSR) hosted its first ever Olympic Games. And I know about the scandal that surrounded the Games. I successfully celebrated the opening in front of the telly, dancing in my mum’s tummy to the tune of Kalinka. The Olympics are not the reason why I came to like the winter sports, but I’ll have another post for that.

Tomorrow, February 7th, the Games open again, this time in Sochi. Lots of scandals are brewing this time. The instances of corruption at the construction stage, incorrect translations, “uncovered” loos with two water closets behind one door, not to mention the infamous “anti-gay law”. And a revolutionary Maidan in the Ukraine. Although Russia has announced the Olympic truce, the example of the Beijing Olympics when an armed conflict between Russia and Georgia had burst out proves that, when some forces are hell bent on having their way, the age-long tradition is no excuse to postpone the plan. I hope this is not the case this time.

I have changed jobs in autumn last year, and I can honestly say that one of the reasons for looking to move was a continuous disdain of the Olympic effort in the company and the support given to the voices who wanted to sabotage the Olympic Games. I certainly have my own criticism of the regime, and the Russian Orthodox Church, and God knows what else in Russia, but you won’t see me trying to bring down an amazing international event organised and presented by my country.

The reason is simple: what sportsmen do throughout their career is so much more important and inspiring than the work of many a contemporary politician. We tend to discuss and decry the payments of sportsmen, but in the world where a politician easily appears in a nude photoshoot and becomes a member of the Parliament for rather obscure reasons it’s great to see someone working on themselves, competing, winning, losing, and still keeping their determination to win. It’s an amazing victory over one’s weaknesses, an ability to make your strengths serve you right, while adhering to and displaying the best human qualities and values. The Olympics have changed considerably over the decades, today it’s an advertising opportunity for the country, so the money ethos is omnipresent to a bigger or lesser extent wherever the Games are held. It’s strange that you do need to be paid zillions to showcase your best qualities and to inspire others, but considering that those values are priceless, perhaps it makes sense to pay a little extra to see them applied in real life.

However, these people have dedicated their lives to sport, training, and competition. It is unreasonably selfish to want to deny them the chance to add more medals and tropheys to their collection, to strengthen their reputation, and to continue their work in the chosen field. So, for the next three weeks all I care about is the performance of the athletes, and not about money. And, of course, I sincerely hope Yevgeny Pluschenko wins his Olympic Gold.

Anyway, I’m happy and proud Russia is the host of the Olympic Games in 2014, and I strongly believe we will be able to deliver a great performance as a national team and to ensure that other sportsmen also perform to their best level. The rest can eat snow 😉

The book I’m sharing may be of more interest to my Russian-speaking readers who will be able to understand the text. I hope, though, everyone of you likes illustrations by S. Ostrov to the story by Ye. Ozeretskaya about an Ancient Greek boy who once visited the Olympic Games.

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My Home Library: The German Expressionist Poets

It was absolutely normal for me to read “beyond my age”, so to say. When I was seven, I read Oscar Wilde’s tales, Voynich’s Gadfly, and the ancient myths. The book in Russian that you see in the photo was printed in 1990, so it was around the age of 10 that I first read the poems by German Expressionists. Being rather savvy for my age, I knew at least one of them by name: it was Bertolt Brecht, although as we know he did not remain an Expressionist for too long, just as Boris Pasternak moved on from Futurism fairly quickly. Back then I was, erm, thrilled to be able to read certain words that would be considered foul language (I understand now it prepared me for reading Henry Miller on the Moscow Underground a decade later). I remember being particularly impressed by the poetry of Gottfried Benn. However, he wrote truly lyrical poems, as well:
Gottfried Benn – Asters
Asters—sweltering days,
old entreaty, spell,
the gods shed timid rays,
an hour upon the scale.
Once more the golden flocks,
the sky, the light, the veil.
What breeds the familiar flux
of wings before they fail?
Once more now the lust,
the rush of roses, and you—
the summer’s leaned to watch
the swallows skirt the dew,
and once more does not falter,
sure dark precedes new light:
the swallows drink the water
and fade into the night.
Another poet I took a notice of (thanks to a brilliant Russian translation by V. Toporov) was Georg Heym. You can browse his poems in German here.
Georg Heym – Der Hunger
Er fuhr in einen Hund, dem groß er sperrt
Das rote Maul. Die blaue Zunge wirft
Sich lang heraus. Er wälzt im Staub. Er schlürft
Verwelktes Gras, das er dem Sand entzerrt.

Sein leerer Schlund ist wie ein großes Tor,
Drin Feuer sickert, langsam, tropfenweis,
Das ihm den Bauch verbrennt. Dann wäscht mit Eis
Ihm eine Hand das heiße Speiserohr.

Er wankt durch Dampf. Die Sonne ist ein Fleck,
Ein rotes Ofentor. Ein grüner Halbmond führt
Vor seinen Augen Tänze. Er ist weg.

Ein schwarzes Loch gähnt, draus die Kälte stiert.
Er fällt hinab, und fühlt noch, wie der Schreck
Mit Eisenfäusten seine Gurgel schnürt.
Георг Гейм – Голод
Торчит у шавки в горле, точно кость
Кровавая… Синюшным языком
Собака лижет клочья трав с песком,
А голод пробурил ее насквозь.
Разинута, как семивратье, пасть.
Огонь сочится каплями в живот
И жжет его… Покуда пищевод
Как лед не станет, распалившись всласть.
Все как в тумане. Солнце лишь пятно.
Печь пышущая… Квелая луна
Перед глазами пляшет. Надо прочь.
Как чернота, зияет белизна.
Ошейником тоски сдавила ночь
Дыханье. Только сдохнуть суждено.
(Перевод – В. Топоров / Translated into Russian by V. Toporov)