Myth has us Russians in thrall,
Whether down on our luck or high.
We are all hostages to our soul,
That wondrous entity.
We stroke the snake of history,
But however you bend our words,
We love ourselves to the point of loathing
And loathe ourselves to the point of love.
Raising our cups in a general toast,
We curse our everlasting fate for now –
What has been allotted hurts,
Like a fresh brand mark on the brow.
by Инна Львовна Лиснянская (Inna Lvovna Lisnyanskaya)
translated by Daniel Weissbort
Мы, русские, на мифы падки…
Мы, русские, на мифы падки.
Хоть землю ешь, хоть спирт глуши,
Мы все — заложники загадки
Своей же собственной души.
Змею истории голубим,
Но как словами ни криви,
Себя до ненависти любим
И ненавидим до любви.
Заздравные вздымая чаши,
Клянем извечную судьбу, —
Болит избранничество наше,
Как свежее клеймо во лбу.
Additional information: Inna Lisnianskaya was the wife of Semyon Lipkin. The above poem was written shortly after his death. There isn’t much about her in English so if you want to know more you may have to research her husband initially and work from there for biographical details. However one collection of her poetic works titled ‘Far from Sodom‘ is available in English should you wish to read more of her writing.
She was born in Baku and published her first collection in 1957 then moved to Moscow three years later. In 1979 she and her husband resigned from the Union of Soviet Writers in protest to the expulsion of Viktor Yerofeyev and Yevgeny Popov from it. The following seven years her works were only published abroad though from 1986 she was able to publish regularly and was awarded several important prizes.