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It was the end of October: GALAKTION TABIDZE

It was the end of October

the type of day when each cloud

in the air seems like Versailles:

the sun too tired to warm it.

It was autumn.

Even the trees were listless,

so listless!

Once in a while, like a tear,

a leaf was cast from a hopeless branch – 

golden. Golden

amber piled on the garden path.

And something there was fidgety

in the withered twigs and leaves,

their rustling which generates

all of autumn’s mystery.

The garden was deserted


the empty wooden chairs

triggered an illusion

of summer shortly past.

Then summer vanished.

A dreamy young woman

in iris-hued clothes

with golden hair,

the face of Veronica,

and a sky-coloured book in her hand

(labeled ‘Shelley’)

wandered slowly on the garden path.

At a Linden tree, she cut with a carving knife

the word:


Her name.

Somewhere they were chopping wood.

The air was thick with copper.

All at once, a small cloud

melancholically stretched

in the sky swiftly turned

wholly hiding the sun.

The listless trees trembled.

A golden column

of leaves swirled in the air,

the dry branches muttering.

And the wind opened Percy Bysshe

Shelley’s blue book

right to the start

of that immortal line

from Time Long Past.

Each New Year’s Eve

I think of this moment – I half-open Musset

to a particular sonnet, which on the twelth page

ends in this way:

Car qui m’eut dit, madame,
que votre coeur sitôt avait changé pour moi?

Are these lines not truly

worth a whole poem?

Myself, I do not know what happens to me:

I can not keep calm for even one minute.

I want to strike out over the moutains

muffled in mist, to look at the world

from every pole. To say:

Lend me your ears.

I will look at this world

and loudly declaim

I defy you!

I love you!

With two million eyes

I look at this New Year


And I say:

To the Future!

Victory! Victory!

Galaktion Tabidze (1892-1959) was a Georgian poet. He survived Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge of the 1930s, but many of Tabidze’s artistic friends lost their lives. Tabidze suffered depression and at the age of 66 in 1959 he was placed in a psychiatric hospital in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he jumped out of the window and died. This poem was written in 1923 and translated by Christopher Michel and published in 2008. The French lines: Car qui m’eut dit, madame, que votre coeur sitôt avait changé pour moi? mean For who would have said to me, madam, that your heart had soon changed for me? 

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

MARTINA NICOLLS – MartinaNicollsWebsite

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