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Zinaida Hippius




My window is high above the ground,

    High above the ground.

I see only sky as the sun goes down—

    As the sun goes down.


And the sky seems empty and pale,

    So empty and pale…

It has no pit on a heart that is frail,

    On my heart that is frail.


Ah, in senseless sadness I am dying,

    I am dying;

For what I do not know I am striving,

    I am striving…


And this longing is unknown, unusual,


But my heart cries out for a miracle,

     A miracle!


O, my it be something that doesn’t happen

     That never happens;

Miracles the pale sky promises,

     It promises,


But I fear it will not keep its word,

     Not keep its word…

I need something that is not of this earth,

     Not of this earth.



                                —Translated from the Russian by Guy Bennett





Zinaida Nikolaevna Hippius (1869-1945) was born into the family of the super-procurator of the St. Petersburg Senate, and was educated mostly at home. She started out as a successful short-story writer, and later developed into one of the most significant Russian symbolist poets. She was also a first-rate literary critic and essayist, publishing under the pseudonyms Anton Krainii, Roman Arenskii, Lev Puschin, and some others. She married Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, four years her senior, in 1889. Their literary careers proceeded independently, although their political, philosophical and religious views were in unison. Hippius initiated the Religious-Philosophical Meetings in St. Petersburg (1901-1903) and the publication of a literary journal Novyi put' (1903-1905), which printed the works of symbolist writers and published the reports of the Religious-Philosophical Meetings. Among Hippius' and Merezhkovskii's closest associates at that time were Dmitrii Filosofov, Vasilii Rozanov, Nikolai Berdiaev, Aleksandr Blok, Andrei Belyi, Fiodor Sologub, Anton Kartashov, as well as Hippius' two younger sisters, Tatiana and Natalia Hippius. In 1919 Hippius and Merezhkovskii (along with their secretary V. Zlobin and D. Filosofov) left Soviet Russia via Poland. Together with Boris Savinkov they tried to organize military opposition to Bolshevism in Poland, but their attempts failed. In 1920 the Merezhkovskiis and Zlobin left Warsaw and settled in Paris, where Hippius continued her literary activities, contributing to various émigré periodicals. In 1925 Hippius published her reminiscences Zhivye litsa (Living Faces). In 1926 the Merezhkovskiis organized a literary and philosophical society, "Zelenaia Lampa" (The Green Lamp), where the discussions centered on literary, religious, and political matters. Hippius' volume of poetry Siianiia (Radiance)appeared in 1938. Her book about her husband, Dmitrii Merezhkovskii, was published posthumously in 1951.


English language copyright ©2006 by Guy Bennett and Green Integer.