These three poems show two sides of Boris Pasternak: poet and literary translator. Pasternak is best known in Russia for his poetry, particularly the collection Сестра моя – жизнь (My Sister, Life), though he is most famous in the West for Doctor Zhivago, which contains some of his finest poetry, the poems of Yury Zhivago, a generous literary gift from Pasternak to his fictional, alter ego of a doctor.
Like much of Pasternak’s poetry, “Night” and “In Hospital” both present the world from unusual angles: “Night” examines Earth and an artist from the sky and “In Hospital” looks at illness, dying, and a conversation with God that concludes with the dying man seeing himself as a ring in a case.
Read Russia! Hear Russia!
- Russian text of Night
- An unattributed translation of “Night”
- Russian text of “In Hospital”
- Ann Pasternak Slater’s “Translating Pasternak,” which mentions the poem’s sounds.
- An uncredited translation of “In Hospital”
- Mary Delle LeBeau’s analysis of “In Hospital”
- Russian text of “The Color Blue”
- An English translation (PDF format) of “The Color Blue”
- Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography, Volume 2; a passage on Pasternak and translation on Google Books
Image: "Boris Beside the Baltic at Merekule," 1910, painted by Leonid Pasternak, Boris Pasternak's father.
Boris Pasternak reads his 1957 poem “Night,” which offers a view of the earth—and art—from a night sky. Pasternak’s “Winter Night,” a poem with a similar title, may be one of his best-known in the West because it appears in <i>Doctor Zhivago</i>, as a poem written by Zhivago himself.
Boris Pasternak recites his 1956 poem “In Hospital,” written after a hospital stay in the early 1950s.
"The Color Blue"
Boris Pasternak reads “The Color Blue,” his Russian translation of a poem written by Georgian poet Nikoloz Baratashvili in 1841. Pasternak was a prolific—and highly respected—translator: according to <i>Boris Pasternak: A Literary Biography</i>, he set aside Shakespeare’s <i>King Lear</i> and <i>Macbeth</i> to work on Baratashvili’s poems in 1945. The book calls his Baratashvili translations “some of Pasternak’s