О, облака  

Балтики летом!  



© The Estate of Joseph Brodsky / Wylie Agency London

Translated by Joseph Brodsky 

Ah, summer clouds

of the Baltic! I swear

you are nowhere

to be outclassed.


Isn't your free state

the afterworld's border-

stallions, a warrior,

sometimes a saint?


The Almighty alone

glimpses by lightning

your crumbling lining,

fraying cretonne.


Hence, I, an old

hand at premonitions,

take your omniscience

for non-being's mold,


afterlife's mask.

Steadily running

over the granite,

over the most


humble of seas,

you are the limpid

sculptures of limit­-

less genesis.


Cupolas, peaks,

profile of Tolstoy

muscular torso,

bachelor digs,


candlesticks' vain

meltdown, or Hapsburg

Vienna, an iceberg-



Eden's debris.

Ah, save the northeaster,

you wouldn't master



Your cirric ploys

or cumulous domus

make both the nomads

and the settled rejoice.


Thanks to your reams,

patches, and tatters,

words that one utters

equal one's dreams.


It's you who let

me with your nimbus

trust not in numbers

but in the complete


spurning of weights

and measures in favor

- once and forever -

of phantoms and grace.


It was you, too,

who made the salient

planet an island

paltry for two.


Ah, your rent-free

castles! Those lofty

soft hotbeds of the

heart's tyranny!


Frothy cascades

of seraphs and ball gowns;

crashing of bogus

starched barricades;


conjugal bouts

of butterflies and

the Himalayan

glaciers - ah, clouds,


high in pristine

skies of the Baltic!

Whose stern and vatic

calls have you been


heeding? To whose

might do you yield? Or

who is your builder?

Your Sisyphus?


Who, having found

shapes to your grandeur,

made it surrender

sound? For sound­-


less is your great

miracle! Heavy

or scattered, your bevy,

cohort, parade


silently hedge

toward some finish

line, where you'll vanish

- toward the edge


etched by your shoal

that charged it more boldly,

and was lighter than body,

better than soul.




© The Estate of Joseph Brodsky / Wylie Agency London

  • Country in which the text is set
    Baltic Sea
  • Translations
    Language Year Translator
    English  1995  Joseph Brodsky