To Mikhail Shemyakin
What’ll my breathing, what’ll my looking bring to me today? Dense and viscous is the air before storm rains. What’ll I hear, what’ll be revealed to me to sing, to say? Here sing birds from fairy tales, foretelling changes. From the left the gladsome Sirin1 joyfully smiles at me - Tries to trap a living soul in her host, While another fairy bird is quite in front of me - It’s the dismal, strange, uncanny Alkonost2. Suddenly came to heart a tune Of the seven sacred strings - It’s the wise bird Gamayun3 Puts her confidence in me! In the blue sky, pierced by countless bell-towers, Sound copper bells, declaring bliss or hell. In Rossia, cupolas are with pure gold covered, With the hope that in God’s Eyes they’ll look well.   Here I’m standing, having faced an everlasting riddle, Looking o’er the great and mythic clime, All admiring of this salty-bitter-sour-sweet Azure land of pure wellsprings and rye. My true steed through the thick mud is lumbering, He just sinks in that mud stirrup-deep, But bears me through the great power slumbering, Which is going to rise from her sleep. As if seven wealthy moons Came to high, and far I see - It’s the wise bird Gamayun Puts her confidence in me! And my battered, scorned, abused, bruised, weary soul - Where her flesh appears through her threadbare fell - Will be pieced by me with patches of pure gold, With the hope that in God’s Eyes she’ll look well.  
1 In Russian folklore, Sirin is a heavenly bird with the head and breast of a beautiful woman, which has a charming voice, the legend of her is based on the Greek myth about sirens.
2 Alkonost is a fabulous bird of happiness with the head and hands of a beautiful woman, the legend of her is based on the Greek myth about Alcyone.
3 Gamayun is a prophetic bird with the head of a beautiful woman symbolizing wisdom and knowledge, the legend of her is based on the Iranian myth about the Huma bird.
© Akbar Muhammad. Translation, 2013
[Adapted from translations by other translators:
Thomas Beavitt’s “The Cupolas in Russia”,
Vyacheslav Chetin’s “Domes”,
Margaret and Stas Porokhnya’s “Russian Domes”,
Natalia Tverskova’s “Cupolas”.]