Five Hard Pieces

SKU: 78-1-61468-430-5
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In this volume, Professor Diana Burgin, Tsvetaeva scholar and internationally known translator of Russian prose and poetry, offers her original English verse translations of five long poems by Marina Tsvetaeva, widely acclaimed as one of the greatest 20th century Russian poets. Professor Burgin’s translations, the majority of which appear in print here for the first time, aim at total fidelity to the meter, rhythm, meaning and some of the rhyme of the Russian originals. Each translation is accompanied by a detailed, line-by-line explication of the Russian text as well as a meditation on the poem’s often hidden thematic relatedness to the other poems of this group of five and to Tsvetaeva’s work as a whole. The connective tissue between these five hard pieces can be seen as magical in that the deep-lying texture of each is woven of allusions to various magic systems including alchemy, oneiromancy and, most notably, Cabbala.

Diana Lewis Burgin, Slavic philologist, biographer, translator, poet, dog-lover, and violinist manquée has been Professor of Russian at the University of Massachusetts-Boston for 40 years. In addition to her widely acclaimed translation (with Katherine T. O’Connor) of The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1996), Professor Burgin has authored: Richard Burgin. A Life in Verse (1989); Sophia Parnok. The Life and Work of Russia’s Sappho (1994); two books on the Russian poet, Marina Tsvetaeva in Russian translation; translations and readings of Tsvetaeva’s long poems (available on; and numerous scholarly articles and essays in journals and anthologies on topics ranging from Russian literature and culture to women’s and gender studies.


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