Russia has lost Russia in Russia.
Russia searches for itself
like a cut finger in the snow,
a needle in a haystack,
like an old blind woman madly stretching her hand in fog,
searching with hopeless incantation for her lost milk cow.
We buried our icons.
We didn’t believe in our own great books.
We fight only with alien grievances.
Is it true we didn’t survive under our own yoke,
becoming for ourselves worse than foreign enemies?
Is it true that we are doomed to live only in the silk
nightgown of dreams, eaten by moths? –
Or in numbered prison robes?
Is it true that epilepsy is our national character?
Or convulsions of pride?
Or convulsions of self-humiliation?
Ancient rebellions against new copper kopeks,
againsy such foreign fruits as potatoes are
now only a harmless dream.
Today’s rebellion swamps the entire Kremlin
like a mortal tide –
Is it true that we Russians have only one unhappy choice?
The ghost of Tsar Ivan the Terrible?
Or the ghost of Tsar Chaos?
So many imposters. Such ‘imposterity’.
Everyone is a leader, but no one leads.
We are confused as to which banners and
slogans to carry.
And such a fog in our heads
that everyone is wrong
and everyone is guilty in everything.
We already have walked enough in such fog,
in blood up to our knees.
Lord, you’ve already punished us enough.
Forgive us, pity us.
Is it true we no longer exist?
Or are we not yet born?
We are birthing now,
but it’s so painful to be born again.
by Евгений Александрович Евтушенко
Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko (18 July 1932 – 1 April 2017)
Потеря / Loss – first published 13 March 1991
translation by James Ragan and Yevgeny Yevtushenko