111 years ago, Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkovsky (Арсе́ний Алекса́ндрович Тарко́вский) was born in the city of Yelisavetgrad (present day: Kropyvnytskyi, Ukraine) - he was the son of Aleksander Tarkowski, a Polish nobleman settled in Russia and a Russian dancer Maria Danilovna Rachkovskaya. His son was Andrei Tarkovsky - the famed Russian Film director of the Soviet Era who directed Andrei Rublev (1966) and Solaris (1972).
Arseny Tarkovsky was a Poet, by many accounts one of the greatest poets of the Russian language in the 20th century. His beloved son died before he did. His son used many of his father's poems in his films, in many places in the film Mirror (1975) and Nostalghia (1983) the whole narrative is written by Arseny.
In reading Andrei Tarkovsky's letters and scripts as well as his interviews, one gets the sense that his father was an enormous influence on him. He shaped his mind and soul into the spiritual force of unrepentant sentimentalism that his art would become. Rejecting that dry Western detachment and objectivity that have become the hallmark of modernity, his soul bled, and his heart beat like a war drum, and he passed on that blood and war into his son's heart and soul. In watching Andrei Tarkovsky's films, in reading his scripts, one finds oneself walking along an empty Russian path with Arseny Tarkovsky - and with the ghosts of all the Russias acrosss all the ages.
He died on May 27, 1989 - 29 months (about 2 and half years) after his son died (1932-1986) in self -imposed exile from the Soviet State they both detested with a passion only a poet and a film director can breathe. I fell in love with Andrei Tarkovsky's films in great part because I fell in love with Arseny Tarkovsky's poetry. He invaded my dreams, he entered into my soul.
And this I dreamt, and this I dream
And this I dreamt, and this I dream,
And some time this I will dream again,
And all will be repeated, all be re-embodied,
You will dream everything I have seen in dream.
To one side from ourselves, to one side from the world
Wave follows wave to break on the shore,
On each wave is a star, a person, a bird,
Dreams, reality, death - on wave after wave.
No need for a date: I was, I am, and I will be,
Life is a wonder of wonders, and to wonder
I dedicate myself, on my knees, like an orphan,
Alone - among mirrors - fenced in by reflections:
Cities and seas, iridescent, intensified.
A mother in tears takes a child on her lap.
I waited for you yesterday since morning
I waited for you yesterday since morning,
They guessed you wouldn't come,
Do you remember the weather? Like a holiday!
I went out without a coat.
Today came, and they fixed for us
A somehow specially dismal day,
It was very late, and it was raining,
The drops cascading down the chilly branches.
I don't believe in omens or fear
Forebodings. I flee from neither slander
Nor from poison. Death does not exist.
Everyone's immortal. Everything is too.
No point in fearing death at seventeen,
There's only here and now, and light;
Neither death, nor darkness, exists.
We're all already on the seashore;
I'm one of those who'll be hauling in the nets
When a shoal of immortality swims by.
I'll summon any of the centuries,
Then enter one and build a house in it.
That's why your children and your wives
Sit with me at one table, -
The same for ancestor and grandson:
The future is being accomplished now,
If I raise my hand a little,
All five beams of light will stay with you.
Each day I used my collar bones
For shoring up the past, as though with timber,
I measured time with geodetic chains
And marched across it, as though it were the Urals.
I tailored the age to fit me.
I tailored the age to fit me.
We walked to the south, raising dust above the steppe;
The tall weeds fumed; the grasshopper danced,
Touching its antenna to the horse-shoes - and it prophesied,
Threatening me with destruction, like a monk.
I strapped my fate to the saddle;
And even now, in these coming times,
I stand up in the stirrups like a child.
I'm satisfied with deathlessness,
For my blood to flow from age to age.
Yet for a corner whose warmth I could rely on
I'd willingly have given all my life,
Whenever her flying needle
Tugged me, like a thread, around the globe.
Arseny was 81 years old at the time of his death. During the Second World War he suffered a wound to his leg, the resulting infection and cure left him an amputee. The Soviets in the last days of their miserable existence awarded him a posthumous award, in much the same manner that they attempted to rehabilitate his son and claim him as one of their own. On his death bed, Andrei said "I was never Soviet, I was always Russian." The same can be said for Arseny - who was born in Russian Ukraine, and died in the Soviet Union, but like his son, he was never Soviet - he was Russian, a quintessentially Russian poet, borne of a Polish father and a Russian mother, in Ukraine - truly a great representative of the Slavic tribe. - KT