Я только раз видала рукопашный (So Many Times I’ve Seen…) by Yuliya Drunina

So many times I’ve seen hand-to-hand combat.
Once for real, and a thousand times in dreams.
Whoever says that war is not horrible,
Knows nothing about war.

By Юлия Владимировна Друнина
(Yulia Vladimirovna Drunina)
translated by Albert C. Todd

Я только раз видала рукопашный

Я только раз видала рукопашный,
Раз наяву. И тысячу — во сне.
Кто говорит, что на войне не страшно,
Тот ничего не знает о войне.

Additional information: Yulia Vladimirovna Drunina (Ю́лия Влади́мировна Дру́нина) (May 10, 1924 – November 21, 1991) was a Soviet poet who wrote in the Russian language. She was a nurse and a combat medic during World War II and known for writing lyrics and poetry about women at war. Her works are characterized by moral clarity, sincere intonation and based on her real life experience, including participation in the war as a source of inspiration for her writings.

When she was just eighteen Yuliya Drunina went to the front lines of World War II as an instructor in hygiene. Her first collection of poetry, published in 1948, was an ingenious confession of the horrors of war as seen through the eyes of a young girl who had dragged wounded men on her frail back under fire. Yet her biography is not simple. During the campaign to “smash the cosmopolitans” beginning in 1948, she unexpectedly spoke out against her teacher Pavel Antokolsky. Just as unexpected was her marriage to the lover of Stalin’s daughter Svetlana Alilueva, the screenwriter Kapler, who had just been released from Stalin’s Gulag.

During the attacks by party ideologues on the younger generation for its supposed antipatriotism, Drunina defended the young people, saying; “We too were young twits, but when the time came we became soldiers.” She was elected a national deputy during the era of perestroika. She wrote several classic examples of front-line lyrics, among which is the tiny confessional gem included here that is known by heart by thousands of Russian readers. She committed suicide in apparent personal, social, and professional despair.

Biographical information about Drunina, p.738, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

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MrHearne

Russian and Welsh poetry. Updated every Sunday. Also reviews of literature, films, theatre, food and drink, etc. Any support or engagement is appreciated.

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