Roncesvalles by Varlam Shalamov

I was captivated straight away,

tired of the lies all around me,

by that proud, tragic tale

of a warrior’s death in the mountains.

 

And it may have been Roland’s horn

that called me, like Charlemagne,

to a silent pass where the boldest

of many bold fighters lay slain.

 

I saw a sword lying shattered

after long combat with stone –

a witness to forgotten battles

recorded by stone alone.

 

And those bitter splinters of steel

have dazzled me many a time.

That tale of helpless defeat

can’t help but overwhelm.

 

I have held that horn to my lips

and tried more than once to blow,

but I cannot call up the power

of that ballad from long ago.

 

There may be some skill I’m lacking –

or else I’m not bold enough

to blow in my shy anguish

on Roland’s rust-eaten horn.

 

by Варлам Тихонович Шаламов (Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov)

(1950?)

translated by Robert Chandler


Fun facts: Shalamov references one of his favourite poems by Marina Tsvetaeva by mentioning Roland’s Horn calling to him.

Roncesvalles is famous in history and legend for the defeat of Charlemagne and the death of Roland in 778, during the battle of Roncevaux Pass, when Charlemagne‘s rear guard was destroyed by Basque tribes. Among those killed in the battle was a relatively obscure Frankish commander, Roland, whose death elevated him and the paladins, the foremost warriors of Charlemagne’s court, into legend, becoming the quintessential role model for knights and also greatly influencing the code of chivalry in the Middle Ages. There are numerous written works about the battle, some of which change and exaggerate events. The battle is recounted in the 11th century The Song of Roland, the oldest surviving major work of French literature, and in Orlando Furioso, one of the most celebrated works of Italian literature.

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‘Flying in at my window’ by Varlam Shalamov

Flying in at my window,

a moon like a snow jay

scrapes claws on walls,

flutters over my pillow

 

Scared of confinement

in pages or dwelling,

my homeless darling –

in midnight finery.

 

by Варлам Тихонович Шаламов (Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov)

(1950)

translated by Robert Chandler

Snow Keeps Falling Night And Day by Varlam Shalamov

Snow keeps falling night and day –

some god, now turned more strict,

is sweeping out from his domain

scraps of his old manuscripts.

 

Sheaves of ballads, songs and odes,

all that now seems bland or weak –

he sweeps it down from his high clouds,

caught up now by newer work.

 

by Варлам Тихонович Шаламов (Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov)

(1950 – or at least the incident which inspired the poem occurred then)

translated by Robert Chandler

Some Things Succeed And Some Things Fail by Georgy Ivanov

Some things succeed, and some things fail;

everything’s nonsense that passes away…

 

But even so this reddish-brown grass

which grows by a gate in the fence will last.

 

… If Russian speech has the power to go

back to the land where the Neva flows –

from Paris I send these muddled words,

though even to me they sound absurd.

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

(1950)

by Stephen Capus

One Mirror Must Mirror Another by Georgy Ivanov

One mirror must mirror another;

each mirror mismirrors the other.

 

Not that evil cannot be defeated,

only that we cannot escape defeat;

 

I believe in the ash left behind by the fire;

not in the music that burned my life.

 

by Георгий Владимирович Иванов (Georgii Vladimirovich Ivanov)

a.k.a. Georgy Ivanov

(1950)

translated by Robert Chandler

International Childrens Day 1st June and 1979 the International Year of the Child

Happy International Children’s Day everyone!

Children’s Day is recognized on various days in many places around the world, to honour children globally. It was first proclaimed by the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in 1925 and then established universally in 1954 to protect an “appropriate” day.

The International Day for Protection of Children, is observed in many countries as Children’s Day on June 1 since 1950, was established by the Women’s International Democratic Federation on its congress in Moscow (22 November 1949). Major global variants include a Universal Children’s Day on November 20, by the United Nations‘ recommendation.

JUNE 1 USE THIS international childrens day soviet 1979

Here is a Russian pin badge celebrating UNESCO’s declaration that 1979 would be the International Year of the Child.

The Cyrillic translates as follows:

международный = International
год ребенка = Year of the Child (lit. Year Child)

UNESCO proclaimed 1979 as the International Year of the Child. The proclamation was signed on January 1, 1979 by United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim. A follow-up to the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child, the proclamation was intended to draw attention to problems that affected children throughout the world, including malnutrition and lack of access to education. Many of these efforts resulted in the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

Numerous events took place within the UN and in member countries to mark the event, including the Music for the UNICEF Concert, held at the UN General Assembly on January 9. WBZ-TV 4 in Boston, Massachusetts, along with the four other Group W stations, hosted and broadcast a celebratory festival, ‘Kidsfair’, usually held around Labour Day ever since, from Boston Common. Canadian animator/director Eugene Fedorenko created a film for the National Film Board of Canada, called “Every Child“, which centred on a nameless baby who nobody wants because they’re too busy with their own concerns. This was used to explain the importance of how every child is entitled to a home. Sound effects were created with the voices of Les Mimes Electriques.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children%27s_Day
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Year_of_the_Child

…The pin badge, to a modern eye, does look more than a little bit racist doesn’t it?


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