Bride of Ice: New Selected Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva (translated by Elaine Feinstein) REVIEW

Bride of Ice: New Selected PoemsBride of Ice: New Selected Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva (translated by Elaine Feinstein)
Carcanet Press
Published 1 August 2011 (first published 1 January 2008)
269 pages
Digital library book

Poet’s Page: Poetry Foundation


When Elaine Feinstein first read the poems of Marina Tsvetaeva in Russian in the 1960s, the encounter transformed her. ‘What drew me to her initially, ‘ she writes, ‘was the intensity of her emotions, and the honesty with which she exposed them.’ Her translations, first published to great acclaim in 1971, introduced Tsvetaeva to English readers. It was the start of Feinstein’s continuing engagement with a poet who has been an enduring, challenging inspiration to her, and whose life she has written. To this enlarged edition Elaine Feinstein adds five major pieces. ‘Girlfriend’, a sequence of lyrics, was written for Tsvetaeva’s lover Sofia Parnok. In ‘New Year’s Greetings’ she responded to the death of Rainer Maria Rilke. ‘On a Red Horse’ is a dramatic fairytale of power and cruelty. ‘Wires’, of which two lyrics were included in the earlier edition, now appears in full; and a previously omitted lyric from ‘Poem of the End’ has been translated. With a new introduction, notes and bibliography of works in English, Bride of Ice brings Tsvetaeva to a new generation of readers.


From Verse

Written so long ago, I didn’t even
Know I was a poet
My lines fell like spray from a fountain
Or flashes from a rocket…


This was my first time reading Tsvetaeva’s and she blew me away. Bride of Ice: New and Selected Poems is a great collection of poems. I loved every word contained within the pages. Her words haunted me. Poems stayed with me, repeating in my head over and over when I put the collection to one side and started to read something else. The images are brutal and haunting. The Poem of the End is a stand out poem in this collection and is raw and painfully real. Tsvetaeva is a woman and a poet who knows how to blend light and dark. It has been a long time since I felt so affected by someone’s poetry. Bride of Ice: New and Selected Poems is a brilliant example of the poetry I love to read and the type of poetry I try to write myself. As I read the poems, I wasn’t just reading words, I was taken out of the reality of my life and taken somewhere else on the waves of Tsvetaeva’s mind. I felt lost and found and completely disorientated reading these poems. Feinstein has done a brilliant job of translating these poems from Russian. There are so many brilliant poems in this collection. Some of my favourites include Your Narrow, Foreign Shape, A Kiss On The Head, You Loved Me, Homesickness, I Opened My Veins and When I Look At The Flight of the Leaves. In Tsvetaeva, I’ve discovered another favourite poet. Bride of Ice: New and Selected Poems is astonishing.




One Comment Add yours

  1. Tsvetaeva wrote some lovely pieces, so I’m glad to hear that you discovered her! She captured the complexity of humanity extraordinarily well.

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