Two Poems by Yuri Andrukhovych

Yuri Andrukhovych
Two Poems


Train Station

here we long to board the right train
following the maze of signs we hasten
through cramped corridors between bundles and suitcases
we don’t have time to look up where under the spherical vault
hangs down dusty and dingy
florentine chandeliers
we compress sweaty copper coins like springs
we form disorderly lines
a gypsum wall-mounted ten-year-old putto is above us
sometimes blowing into his gilt horn
we glance at a bored blonde girl
who eats an apple leaning against a column
finally we reach the platform
impregnated with beer and roses
we kiss someone we beg them not to forget we hesitate
if we’re in a right seat
until we release ourselves from the earth
and softly depart
soothed we look through the windows at the first trees
turning yellow in the suburban woods



we use dead languages
helpless we walk along the retorts of astrolabes and
from the heights of ramparts we listen
to the clanging of St. Nicolas we listen
on pavement to the eloquent rhetorician Cicero filthy with chalk
during medical lessons we peep into the eyes of
dead people
we hide tobacco and sleazy sketches in our pockets
in the morning we obediently follow chaplain
we fling little philosophical stones into cats
at noon the wittiest syllogisms and formulas
run away from us because
on the other side of the steep damp wall
a mellifluous maid of assistant mayor
hangs up just laundered
wet dripping

Translated from the Ukrainian by Ostap Kin and Adam Brodsky



Yuri Andrukhovych’s two poems—“Train Station” and “University”—were originally published, in Ukrainian, in the 1989 collection of poetry entitled Downtown (Seredmistia). These two poems are a part of the cycle “The New Etudes of Buildings”—written in the years 1985-1987 as the poet worked on his second poetry collection—that comprises seven poems: “Barrack”, “Tomb”, “Hospital”, “Planetarium”, “Library”.

In an email, the poet explained that prior to the cycle “The New Building Sketches” [Novi etiudy budivel’], he composed a similar one: “In 1983, I wrote a cycle entitled “The Building Sketches” [Etiudy budivel] (seven poems: “Church”, “Tavern”, “Castle”, “Old Factory”, “City Hall”, “Theatre”, “Private House”). Five of them were featured in my first collection of poetry, and two didn’t pass censorship.” The poet’s first collection was entitled The Sky and City Squares (Nebo i ploshchi) and came out in 1985.

— O.K.


Yuri Andrukhovych is a Ukrainian poet, prose writer, essayist and translator. His latest work translated into English is a novel The Twelve Rings (2004; translation, 2015). The collection of essays “My Final Territory” is forthcoming from the University of Toronto Press in fall 2017. A recipient of the Angelus Prize (2006), the Hannah Arendt Prize (2014) and the Goethe Medal (2016), Andrukhovych lives in Ivano-Frankivsk.


Photo credit: Rostyslav Shpuk.

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