Book//mark – Today I Wrote Nothing | Daniil Kharms, 1905-1942

Daniil Kharms with Alice Poiret

“I was most happy when pen and paper were taken from me and I was forbidden from doing
anything. I had no anxiety about doing nothing by my own fault, my conscience was clear,
and I was happy. This was when I was in prison.”

“These verses have become a thing and one can take them off the page and throw them
at a window, and the window would break. That’s what words can do!”

“You see,” I said, “in my opinion, there are no believers or non-believers. There are only
those who want to believe and those who do not want to believe.” “So those who do not
want to believe already believe in something?” said Sakerdon Mikhailovich. “And those
who want to believe already believe in nothing?”

“Madeleine, you’ve grown too cold to lie alone beneath a bush a youth bows down over you
with a face as hot as Tibet. The pilot has grown old along the way. He waves his hands—but
doesn’t fly he moves his legs—but doesn’t go waves once or twice and falls then lies for years
without decay Poor Madeleine grieves a braid she weaves. and chases idle dreams away.”

“A short lightning flash of white snow flew into the woods frightening the animals there a
hare hops around the bird-cherry there a bobcat lies in wait for an underwater mouse puffed
out its muzzle raised its tasseled tail mangy beast of prey to you woodpeckers and rabbits
are as scrambled eggs to us only the oak stands paying no attention to anyone itself just
recently fallen from the sky the pain not yet abated the branches had not drawn apart not a
reproach nor an answer did I deserve oh my spurs seize me chop me and beat me right in the
back right in the back oh he’s fast I thought I see before me the torah but no the lun a tic the
lunatic of my words one thing I won’t repeat will not repeat my whole life through this is
ladies and gentlemen ladies and gentlemen my attentive audience that leap the leap from the
heights of treesongers down on to the boards of stone the tables of stone tables of oh giant
“It’s hard to say something about Pushkin to a person who doesn’t know anything about him.
Pushkin is a great poet. Napoleon is not as great as Pushkin. Bismarck compared to Pushkin
is a nobody. And the Alexanders, First, Second and Third, are just little kids compared to
Pushkin. In fact, compared to Pushkin, all people are little kids, except Gogol. Compared
to him, Pushkin is a little kid.
And so, instead of writing about Pushkin, I would rather write about Gogol.
Although, Gogol is so great that not a thing can be written about him, so I’ll write about
Pushkin after all.
Yet, after Gogol, it’s a shame to have to write about Pushkin. But you can’t write
anything about Gogol. So I’d rather not write anything about anyone.”

 Daniil Kharms, 1905-1942, Today I Wrote Nothing: Selected Writings


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