here’s so much room in this world, even now,
Above the azure sea, beneath the arch of clouds.
And Everest’s blue peaks are as yet free,
And not so far invaded by vast crowds.
Yet still he flies toward the solar fire,
A tiny speck, lost in the endless blue,
An Icarus, condemned to heights unknown,
Man of our time, the loner who is new.
by Strannik (Странник)
also known as:
Archbishop John (Shahovskoy) of San Francisco
Ioann Shakhovskoy (Иоанн Шаховской)
Dmitriy Alekseyevich Shakhovskoy
(Дмитрий Алексеевич Шаховской)
translated by April FitzLyon
Additional information: I don’t know by which name and title he is most common referred to so forgive me for listing so many variations. It seems his surname is most often written as Shahovskoy although I usually see the Cyrillic ‘х‘ transliterated as ‘kh‘ elsewhere. Importantly, if somewhat obvious hopefully, he is not to be confused with St John of Shanghai and San Francisco.
Also, despite finding others, I could not find the Russian version of this poem. If you happen to know then please add a link, or copy/paste it, in the comments for others to find. Many thanks.
Archbishop John (Архиепископ Иоанн) of San Francisco was also known as prince Dmitriy Alekseyevich Shahovskoy (князь Дмитрий Алексеевич Шаховской), (1902–1989) during his lifetime. He was an officer of the White Army, wrote under the pseudonym “Strannik” (which means ‘wanderer’ in Russian), was an editor of an emigre literary journal in Paris, a Russian Orthodox monk (later archbishop of San Francisco and the West) in the Orthodox Church in America.
John (Shahovskoy), Archbishop of San Francisco was one of the many émigrés from the Russian civil war who entered a monastic life in the Orthodox Church and became a diocesan bishop in the United States. After first being consecrated Bishop of Brooklyn in the American Metropolia, he was elected Bishop of San Francisco and Western America and Archbishop in 1961, a position he held until his retirement in 1973.
There is a site showing the location of his grave with a photo of it.
The nom de plume Strannik (Russian for “Wanderer”) hints at the extraordinary breadth of the life of this child of the old aristocracy, Prince Ioann Shakhovskoy, who became a much-loved spiritual leader – the Russian Orthodox archbishop in faraway San Francisco – and a serious poet of transparent lyricism. Once in 1966 he invited the compiler on this anthology to lunch at a restaurant on the top of a hill in San Francisco. Full of self-respect and dignity he drove slowly as he bombarded the visiting Soviet poet with questions about the younger poetic generation, which he clearly admired. A strange symphony of sound grew around us and finally turned into an incessant blare. The road behind was jammed with cars forced to crawl at turtle speed because this frocked chauffeur paid no attention to the traffic around him as he kept telling over and over again of the fortune and happiness of loving poetry and the misfortune of not. (The idea of this anthology began to grow from that time).Biographical information about Strannik, p.416, ‘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).
Bishop John was not a man detached from the world; he had a lively interest in all things, from literature to politics. Poetry, however, was always the inner-most sacrament, the secret cell of his soul.
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