And I knew a destructive pleasure
in trampling what's sacred and good,
a delirium exceeding all measure -
this absinthe that poisons my blood!
by Александр Александрович Блок
(Alexander Alexandrovich Blok)
translated by Stephen Capus
And this is the sordid dream of the drunkard creeping to prayer,
And the maddened mob drowning the noise of the birds
Frightened and fluttering in the dusty trees,
And all the hysterical converts insulting the heavens,
The brown pond sticky with the thighs of the damned;
And here comes a fellow to shake your liver
For out of his nightmare he leapt
When the moon crept up behind the Iron Bridge
And the garage heap, where the trollop sat waiting
To sell her filth to the fool. And I saw
All this shabby mockery of April
As a neurotic’s delirium, his hallucination
Of apes and angels and dog-headed ghosts
Mingling and whirling and circling and dancing
Among the decaying boughs that laced like serpents
The ripped edges of the darkening sky.
O Lord God, save us from tinned donkey,
From Soviet scientific magazines,
From the Scottish Sabbath, from American war films,
From the demagogues of Aberdare and abadan,
And above all, O Lord God, save us from the Pentecostals.
by Idris Davies
The Scottish Sabbath is the practise of doing nothing on a Sunday including all shops and other businesses being closed to keep the sabbath sacred.
Aberdare is a town in the Cynon Valley area of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales, at the confluence of the Rivers Dare (Dâr) and Cynon. Aberdare is 4 miles (6 km) south-west of Merthyr Tydfil, 20 miles (32 km) north-west of Cardiff and 22 miles (35 km) east-north-east of Swansea. During the 19th century it became a thriving industrial settlement, which was also notable for the vitality of its cultural life and as an important publishing centre.
Abadan, famous for its oil refinery, was the site of the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, also known as the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Persia, was the joint invasion of Iran in 1941 during the Second World War by the British Commonwealth and the Soviet Union. The invasion lasted from 25 August to 17 September 1941 and was codenamed Operation Countenance. Its purpose was to secure Iranian oil fields and ensure Allied supply lines (through the Persian Corridor) for the USSR, fighting against Axis forces on the Eastern Front.
Pentecostalism or Classical Pentecostalism is a renewal movement within Protestant Christianity that places special emphasis on a direct personal experience of God through baptism with the Holy Spirit. The term Pentecostal is derived from Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish Feast of Weeks. For Christians, this event commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
O Muse of Weeping…
– M. Tsvetaeva
I have turned aside from everything,
From the whole earthly store.
The spirit and guardian of this place
is an old tree-stump in water.
We are brief guests of the earth, as it were,
And life is a habit we put on.
On paths of air I seem to overhear
Two friendly voices, talking in turn.
Did I say two? … There
By the east wall’s tangle of raspberry,
Is a branch of elder, dark and fresh.
Why! It’s a letter from Marina.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova)
(1961, in delirium)
from Седьмая книга (The Seventh Book)
translation by D. M. Thomas
In later Soviet editions of her works this poem is entitled ‘Komarovo Sketches‘. She spent a lot of time in her last years at Komarovo, fifty miles from Leningrad (St Petersburg), on the Karelian isthmus and is buried there.
The three poets referred to are Pasternak, Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva alongside Akhmatova herself.
The epigaph is from a poem addressed to Akhmatova in 1916.