Ivan Bunin

I recently read a lovely poem by Ivan Bunin who is one of my favourite Russian poets. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again but I love reading poetry from before and after the revolution, it’s so crazy how much the tone of the poetry can change so much from one life-changing event.

I work in Wetherspoons and I found some Russian books on the shelves which I had to borrow of course, not that I can read any Russian yet. I sat up all night translating them on google so I could find out what they were called and who wrote them. Coincidentally, I found a collection of poetry and short stories by Ivan Bunin which is for one a beautiful copy and secondly very lucky for me. I’m going to take it to university with me and hopefully once I’ve graduated I’ll be able to read them in their original format.


Here’s the poem.

Midnight-Ivan Bunin

November. Midnight damp. Chalk-white beneath

The moon the village lies, by the oppressive
Hush overcome. The tide sweeps in, impassive,

Its voice all deep solemnity and breadth.


The port flag, soaked, droops on its slender mast.

Just o’er the mast, above the mass of hazy

Clouds torn in parts and running swiftly east,

The disc of moon glides, strangely white and glassy.


I reach the steps. Mysterious the light

And duller here, the tide’s voice fiercer, louder.

The bathhouse piles, defenseless, heave and shudder.


Far out – a grey abyss. No sea in sight.

Below, amid the foam that seethes and hisses,

Like seals wet by the surf the boulders glisten. 

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