Nacida el 12 septiembre 1902 en Kiev [Ucrania), falleció el 19 enero 1982. Su familia emigró a los Estados Unidos, cuando tenía ocho años y vivió en Nueva York. Como muchos inmigrantes, trabajó en una fábrica de ropa durante el día, pero fue capaz de asistir por las noches, a la escuela secundaria. Era una estudiante sobresaliente y ganó una beca para la Universidad de Valparaiso; Más tarde se transfirió a la Universidad de Wisconsin-Madison, recibiendo el grado en ciencia de la biblioteca. Conoció a su marido, el poeta ganador del premio Horace Gregory; se casaron en 1925. Sus dos hijos fueron Patrick y Gregory Joanna. Escribió ocho libros de poesía, entre ellos el Premio Pulitzer, y editó seis antologías de poesía.
Se convirtió en una de la voces representativa del decadentismo inglés. Poeta que a momentos parece anacrónica, sus textos se van al plano metafísico con facilidad, casi sin voltear a ver a la Gran Depresión, y aún así transmiten decaimiento y agonía, un pesimismo que encuentra eco en nuestros días. En 1938 mereció el Premio Pulitzer de Poesía.
Premio Pulitzer 1938
"The White Dress", Bob Richmond, 6-20-2001
Threshold and Heart . The Macmillan company. 1934.
Cold Morning Sky . Macmillan. 1937.
The Golden Mirror . New York: The Macmillan company. 1944.
Selected poems . Grove Press. 1954.
Collected Poems . Viking Press. 1965.
The Hidden Waterfall: poems . Vanguard Press . 1974.
Robert S. Phillips, ed. (2002). New selected poems of Marya Zaturenska . Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0717-5 .
Christina Georgina Rossetti (1970). Marya Zaturenska, ed. Selected poems of Christina Rossetti . Macmillan.
Mary Beth Hinton, ed. (2002). The diaries of Marya Zaturenska, 1938-1944 . Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-0714-4 .
Marya Zaturenska, Horace Gregory (1946). A History of American poetry, 1900-1940 . Harcourt, Brace and Co.
La traducción corre a cargo de Esteban López Arciga.
Epitafio para una sin cuidado
¡Qué torpe vestiste tu belleza!
Ligera como seda de aire,
Muy pesada para tu alma,
Como si negar fuera deber,
Y ahora suspiras
Por las gracias que se van
La mano blanca, rosa cosquilleo
Capturado en la palidez de mejillas—
Cabalga y asciende con tu pensar,
El fleco suave de oscuro cabello
Que en la amplia frente posó—
Y los ojos de flameante café
Que se adueñan de todo corazón.
Tras la gala aburrida
Una niña rica indiferente
Arroja cada perla de luna
Que posa en sus pómulos pequeños,
O un vestido exquisito,
Tirado al vacío.
Caminaste sin cuidar tus gracias—
Perdida en el fulgor de visiones
o pálida abstracción, sueño fantasmal,
Mientras la sombra del amor te seguía por atrás
Hasta el suspiro final,
Volteaste para verlo morir.
A mitad de aquel camino escuchaste el gemir—
Y de este trémulo oro
La última flecha, ardiendo y enfriando,
Quitando el sello de tu sangre ya no seca
atizando el fuego de hambres
Apasionado, sin abatir
Los fuegos que enfrían tu vida, atormentan la mente,
Hasta la fascinación se escapa,
Y la furia platónica que consumía
Escucha el susurro de amor a cada esquina,
Mira la urna sin fin que ahora se conoce
Brasas felices, ceniza de rosa.
Epitaph for a Careless Beauty
How carelessly you wore your beauty!
Lightly as if ‘twere cloth of air,
Too heavy for your soul to wear,
As if to deny your gifts a duty,
Alas, for now you sigh
To see your graces fly.
That white hand, that rosy tinge,
Upon the cheek’s deep pallor caught—
Mounting and rising with your thought,
The dark hair’s soft fringe
That on the high wide forehead lay—
And the eyes burning brown
That no heart could disown.
As after a dull gala-day
A rich indifferent girl
Throws down each moon-clear pearl
That on small ear tips lay,
Precious and gay,
Or an exquisite gown,
Thrown idly down.
So careless of your gifts you walked—
Lost in a vision’s gleam
Or pale abstraction, ghostly dream,
While close behind Love’s shadow stalked
Until with his last sigh,
You turned and saw him die.
In mid-way of your path you heard that cry—
And from his quiver of gold,
The last arrow, stinging hot and cold,
Unsealed your blood no longer frozen dry
Kindling the fires unsated,
The fires that chill your life, torment the mind,
Even the enrapt vision gone,
The Platonic fury it has fed upon
Hears love’s sigh on every wind,
Looks in an endless urn that now discloses
Embers of joy, ashes of roses.
The White Dress
Imperceptively the world became haunted by her white dress.
Walking in forest or garden, he would start to see,
Her flying form; sudden, swift, brief as a caress
The flash of her white dress against a darkening tree.
And with forced unconcern, withheld desire, and pain
He beheld her at night; and when sleepless in his bed,
Her light footfalls seemed loud as cymbals; deep as his disdain,
Her whiteness entered his heart, flowed through from feet to head.
Or it was her face at a window, her swift knock at the door,
Then she appeared in her white dress, her face white as her gown;
Like snow in midsummer she came and left the rich day poor;
And the sun chilled and grew higher, remote, and the moon slipped down.
So the years passed; more fierce in pursuit her image grew;
She became the dream abjured, the ill uncured, the deed undone,
The life one never lived, the answer one never knew,
Till the white shadow swayed the moon, stayed the expiring sun.
Until at his life's end, the shadow of the white face, the white dress
Became his inmost thought, his private wound, the word unspoken,
All that he cherished in failure, all that had failed his success;
She became the crystal orb, half-seen, untouched, unbroken.
There on his death bed, kneeling at the bed's foot, he trembling saw,
The image of the Mother-Goddess, enormous, archaic, cruel,
Overpowering the universe, creating her own inexorable law,
Molded of stone, but her fire and ice flooded the room like a pool.
And she was the shadow in the white dress, no longer slight and flying,
But solid as death. Her cold, firm, downward look,
Brought close to the dissolving mind the marvellous act of dying,
And on her lap, the clasped, closed, iron book.
How red the roses were
In that narrow lane
Where we used to meet,
Met and met again.
I see you sitting there
On a stone stair.
On your golden hair
Fell the enamoured air.
The roses were too red
At our cottage door;
Warm light covered the floor,
Flowed and spread.
The ivy was too black,
The roses were too red.
They withered on the stem--
How I remember them.
Do you remember too?
The sky was far too blue.
Your eyes were far fluer.
(They alone were true.)
We wandered by the sea
Led by a lucky star
Known to antiquity.
How good to breathe the air.
I tired of the cottage wall,
The oak tree, and the yew,
Tired of the falling snow,
There was no place to go.
Tired of the blue and green,
The cold rain and the dew,
The winding, vanishing scene--
Tired of all things but you.
from her early and uncollected poetry collection, 1920-1933.
Never will you depart
Though often cast away,
Unburied in my heart
Wraithlike you stray.
First, tenuous and thin,
Then warmer, closer, deep,
You pierce without, within,
You enter in my sleep.
And higher, higher, till
My blood calms all my breath,
Your resolute, strong will
Leaps through the walls of death.
Spectre, whose radiant eyes
Destroy all life in me,
Let me immortalize
My strange captivity
In thoughts that none will read,
In blood that leaves no strain,
Words spoken to the rain,
Devotion none will heed.
Reflections on a Centaur
The years grow small and gray
Above the immobile hills,
I see them float away--
Neither have I grown rich,
Or deeper, more serene:
I am what I have been.
Drink, then, with vivid eyes
This brief and changing world
Of morning light and skies;
Observe this marble faun
Whose cool archaic head
Shines out across the lawn--
Mosaic of my blood,
Of each experience,
Carve something large and good.
So will the lost years fly
Nor will I turn, nor heed
Time's centaur, or his speed.
This poem was written for Horace Gregory, the poet's husband.
The Winter Rose
The winter rose I saw
On its thin stem of glass
Shattered upon the grass,
Slain by its secret flaw
Red tarnished into grey
Recalls its world anew,
How its bright spectre flew
From endless blue to blue
Into an azure day.
Still, still, its beauties lost,
Despised, unloved, forsaken
Can charm the dawn to waken
In an arrested frost.
But ashen hues suffice
(The long ignominy
Of inert memory)
Who stemmed from that great tree,
That flamed with fire and ice.
Where is that look of fire?
Form, fragrance, height, and hue
The flame's expiring blue,
Life's thin electric wire?
Midsummer eyes will dress
Your elegaic dream,
Caught in a moving stream
Of unborn loveliness,
The dead will rise and bless!
Having so rich a treasurey, so fine a hord
Of beauty water-bright before my eyes,
I plucked the daisy only, simple and white
In its fringed frock and brooch of innocent gold.
So is all equilibrium restored:
I leave the noontide wealth of richer bloom
To the destroyer, the impatient ravisher,
The intemperate bee, the immoderate bird.
Of all this beauty felt and seen and heard
I can be frugal and devout and plain,
Deprived so long of light and air and grass,
The shyest flower is sweetest to uncover.
How poor I was: and yet no richer lover
Discovered joy so deep in earth and water;
And in the air that fades from blue to pearl,
And in a flower white-frocked like my small daughter.
Memories (Lower New York City at noon hour)
There is a noise, and then the crowded herd
Of noon-time workers flows into the street.
My soul, bewildered and without retreat,
Closes its wings and shrinks, a frightened bird.
Oh, I have known a peace, once I have known
The joy that could have touched a heart of stone--
The heart of holy Russia beating still,
Over a snow-cold steppe and on a hill:
One day in Kiev I heard a great church-bell
Crying a strange farewell.
And once in a great field, the reapers sowing
Barley and wheat, I saw a great light growing
Over the weary bowed heads of the reapers;
As growing sweeter, stranger, ever deeper,
From the long waters sorrowfully strong,
Came the last echoes of the River Song.
Here in this alien crowd I walk apart,
Clasping remembered beauty to my heart!
from her early and uncollected poetry collection
Pilgrimage (for Lewis Mumford)
The wind came up from the black streets my childhood knew
And talked to me although I closed my ears,
Although I wept and turned away my head,
The terrible streets spoke to me of the dead.
They come with the roar of the winds, they are not dead
They bring the lost child back, they torture her,
Their hands are red with her sharp blood, their feet
Thunder in dread irrevocable beat.
What do you wish to say to me O Lost?
(And the trees darken and the houses dwindle)
Stagnation entered my brain and the leaves are twisted with death
I have been blighted by an early frost.
This pilgrimage wise God you marked for me
My life is your cruel map, my goal you traced
In what dim beat of my blood, and in what ring
Of some forgotten, unforgetting thing?
Because the sterile arms no longer beat
Across the predatory air
But form a cross of grandeur and despair
Because that glorious hair
That grew and flowed like laurel round you head
Lies shorn beneath your feet
Yet I rejoice in my despair, and know
Your agelong summer burning through the snow.
Because your throat no longer holds the word
That shaped the world
Nor your adorable hands the apple of all grace
Yet in all kindness I behold your face
And bless that face and know it mine forever
Safe in your arms across the world's last brink
I stand and hear the coming of the gloom
I learn the slow approach of time and doom.
MAKE of my voice a blue-edged Sword, Oh, Lord!
Strengthen my soul to deliver your war-cry,
Make of my voice a blue-edged sword, Oh, Lord!
Out of my frailness fashion a piercing reed,
Out of my pity a great battle ax, 5
Out of my frailness fashion a piercing reed!
I have had a vision and I cannot sleep,
A vision consumes me and tears me apart,
I have had a vision and I cannot sleep.
Oh body of mine, make of yourself a stronghold,
Gird yourself in the steel of your vision,
Oh body of mine, make of yourself a stronghold!
Make of my breath an infinite prophecy, Oh, Lord!
Make of my song a summons to prayer,
Make of my breath an infinite prophecy, Oh, Lord!
A vision consumes me and I am its slave and its lover,
Make of my spirit a song so that I may announce it!
A vision consumes me and I am its slave and its lover.
For the Seasons
Burning with heat and cold
In April's tender weather
I let my tense hands hold
All they could gather of love.
Desire shaking the branch
Of every quivering tree,
Love, like an avalanche,
Now brightly in the air,
Love's vivid signature
Is more than I can bear,
I bind my flowing hair.
Let other lovers lie
Under that great tree
Of rich incredible fruit
And make their suit:
O turn their burning look
Upon that vast and deep
Whose lovely meanings leap
In generative lore
A moment and no more.
Lightning For Atmosphere
THE warriors, tigers, flowers of Delacroix
Painted upon the walls ablaze with light
Pure light, cloud blanched, that unstained white,
Queen of the colors, whom all other tints destroy,
Color of the dwindling moon.
Or white lightning, seascapes of Chateaubriand
Shores the dramatic ocean beats upon,
Where the lone hero, gloomy on the wild strand
Sees friends and lovers and companions gone,
Hawk, gull, and heron flying.
White-capped mountains, peaks of dazzling snow
Cloud-pointed Alps, sharp unclimbable heights
Burning effulgence of the northern lights
Toward whose clear radiance, our desire grows,
White heat of the infinite.
The intense young lady seen in a dream long gone
Ringleted, lonely in her villa by the sea
Peers through a misted window, sees the floating swan,
Wild geese whiten the sky, lighten the fir tree
Shrill, sound-shattering solitude.
White-gowned in the thin, nocturnal air
She throws her book aside and her fine ear
Hears flying catches of joy, the ecstatic fear,
Whiteness of the abyss; through her soul's precipice
Dark flows the midnight of her hanging hair.
She through a deep hallucination seeing
Strong waves from sheer, salt oceans, drowned lovers
Pallid and proud. The white blank mind discovers
Figures rising from waterfalls, appearing, fleeing
Into damp creeks, into the steep ravines.
All hearts have their precipices, Alps, white peaks
Moments when the white bird with the deep wound must come
To sing and swoon upon enchanted willows,
The heart disguises its symbols, peers through the hid ravines
Steep-gaping between wars.
The Uninvited Guest
Through what doors will you enter, through what walls
Will your white sould resume its solitudes?
I count the clockbeats in my mind, the warning trumpet]Reechoing in my heart and hear no answer,
No answer and no cry
And no reply.
On a known hour at an appointed rendezvous
(So destiny has spoken)
Your eloquent feet will sing in the dry grass;
I know their rhythm cruel and sweet
And their presaging beat
On that unknown street.
Surprise will come like a stern robber,
Fear like a jealous pain, and a joy
Come carrying gifts disastrous and rich
Yet I shall miss
That steep abyss.
Where shall I wait, where shall impatience lie,
On what low bed of thorns shall my head rest
Until I meet the uninvited guest,
Will the door open at a secret word
Shall I run down the world whose strict restraint
Held me too long, whose iron hand has left
Its sharp stigmata on my brows and heart
See I have waited long, the golden lamp I light
Through the expectant night.
Future in Miniature
Daydreaming child on the tenement roof
Who sat in the sullied sun and thought of joy,
The thin, the blue-veined hands in life's reproof,
Lay on the shabby lap, two wax, two useless flowers,
Lay patiently resigned to heavy-dropping hours
Or future vast beyond all hope and reason,
Desperate dreaming brought refreshing showers,
Fish from remote seas, fruit out of season,
Visions of winter roses, summer snows
Till the starved life grows ill with discontent--
Now the thin cheeks' unnatural pallor glows,
The feverish spirit flares, is quickly spent.
And the hard truth no illusion can refine--
Touched the unlearned eyes and sharpened them,
As the blue flowers on the celestial stem
Or faded clothing drying on a line
Unite in equal terror. Inner vision, outward gleam
Blur in cold heat upon her helpless hands,
Through soot-grey air she feels the future stream
On threatening streets, or lonely, hostile lands.
Variations on a Theme by George Herbert
After so many deaths to breathe again,
To see the clouded windows open, brighten
With recovered sight. To see the blackness whiten
And fountained love gush from the arid plain.
"After so many deaths to live and write."
Thou subtle God of Visions who has led
My footsteps to this room, this hour, this night
That I might testify my resurrection.
Now song pours from a thousand instruments
And my new-opened eyes drink in the sound,
The seeing ear, the thinking, speaking heart,
Refreshed again after long banishments.
Praise for the dark that taught me love of light!
Praise for the ill that made me long for health,
Praise for the death that taught me all life is,
I praise the mortal wound that made me His!
The Quiet House
Within my house the gray ghost Peace has lain
On a white bed; and strewn about him lay
The agonies I lavendered away
There was a storm once and the rain beat hard,
Besieged by passions I would now discard
I turned to you O house and waited for the world to wane.
Without, within, the pallid walls now wait:
The threshold and the hearth know one command
The windows breathe their knowledge of my fate
No longer lives the urge to run to strive
And I have but to hear and understand
The word that was my spirit's strange unmaking
(I am alive and yet am not alive)
The word that shall loosen the storm and set the still house quaking.
Woman at the Piano
Rippling in the ocean of that darkening room--
The music poured from the thin hands, widening, gathering
The floods of descending night, flying from the keys
The sound of memory, then the woman singing
Vibrant and full, the resonant echoes scattered
Into a stranger's language, into a foreign country.
The rococo clock on the mantel strikes out its chimes,
The dark wind sighing through the open windows
Sends in its signals, wishes, memories;
The withdrawn room grows immense with hallucination--
Clear woman's voice, long fingers whitely straying
Over the speaking keys, do you hear the answer?
Will the male voice answer? stirring through the walls
Behind the rustling curtains, in the declining light,
Another voice still silent seems to tremble.
Patience is all. Unloved, unlovable, lonely,
It sits on the neglected sofa, watches the fingers
Draw out the difficult music, hears the finale
Shatter the torpor of the dying room.
Now the trees through open windows aspire and flame,
Now there are footsteps, echoes, reveries;--
Now two voices sound in the room where only one
Wove intricate sweetness from the simple keys,
Two voices ring in the dawn, the morning enters.
No matter where they lived the same dream came
Of the invisible landlady whose voice
Quickened the air with a dark flame
The words they have always known, will always know
"You are unwanted! Go!"
And when they built a mansion and furnished it with art,
With love, with music, with the native flowers
It always happened, it was always the same,
The salon narrowed to a tomb,
Sometimes a servant's voice, or a voice from the chandelier,
"You have no business here."
And when they left for the remote island and became the idol
Of the indigenous tribe,
And were caressed, admired, and sheltered--then
Whose was the voice of blame?
That came when they assumed the garlands, the voice they knew
Saying "This is not for you, this is all untrue."
And in the parks on Sundays with nursemaids, lovers, flowers,
And the bands playing and the fountains rising
In silver liquid hours,
Whose was th enemy? who was to blame?
If suddenly the observant shadows start
And cry "Depart! Depart!"
Now they have chosen exile, they have found a secluded house
In the smallest city, in the stillest shelter,
And they speak only to the wounded, the hunted, the lame,
The long evenings, the longer mornings, the longest noons,
And they wait for the bell to ring, for the landlady to appear.
And are they wanted here?
From "The Golden Mirror", 1944. This poem was greatly admired by poet W. H. Auden.