Not love, but rabid fury, has led God's servant to the truth. Her pride is justified - first high-born lady to seek a convict's fate.
Gripping her Old Believer's cross tight as a whip between her hands, she thunders out her final curses; the sleigh slips out of sight.
So this is how God's saints are born... Her hate more ardent than her love, she runs dry fingers through her dry, already frost-chilled hair.
by Варлам Тихонович Шаламов (Varlam Tikhonovich Shalamov) (1950) translated by Robert Chandler
The poem refers to Feodosia Prokopiyevna Morozova (Russian: Феодо́сия Проко́пьевна Моро́зова) (21 May 1632 – 1 December 1675) was one of the best-known partisans of the Old Believer movement. She was perceived as a martyr after she was arrested and died in prison.
She became a household name after being discussed by important Russian writers and depicted by Vasily Surikov. She was also taken as a heroine by some radical groups, who saw her as a symbol of resistance to state power. The People’s Will revolutionary movement promoted her, and her virtues were praised by writers of the Soviet era such as Anna Akhmatova, Varlam Shalamov and Fazil Iskander, who “symbolically enlisted her in their own causes of resistance”.
Below is the full Russian version in Cyrillic.
Попрощаться с сонною Москвою Женщина выходит на крыльцо. Бердыши тюремного конвоя Отражают хмурое лицо.
И широким знаменьем двуперстным Осеняет шапки и платки. Впереди – несчитанные версты, И снега – светлы и глубоки.
Перед ней склоняются иконы, Люди – перед силой прямоты Неземной – земные бьют поклоны И рисуют в воздухе кресты.
С той землей она не будет в мире, Первая из русских героинь, Знатная начетчица Псалтыри, Сторож исторических руин.
Возвышаясь над толпой порабощенной, Далеко и сказочно видна, Непрощающей и непрощеной Покидает торжище она.
Это – веку новому на диво Показала крепость старина, Чтобы верил даже юродивый В то, за что умрет она.
Не любовь, а бешеная ярость Водит к правде Божию рабу. Ей гордиться – первой из боярынь Встретить арестантскую судьбу.
Точно бич, раскольничье распятье В разъяренных стиснуто руках, И гремят последние проклятья С удаляющегося возка.
Так вот и рождаются святые, Ненавидя жарче, чем любя, Ледяные волосы сухие Пальцами сухими теребя.
O sacrifice to reckless thought, it seems you must have hoped your scanty blood had power enough to melt the eternal Pole. A puff of smoke, a silent flicker upon the age-old ice - and then a breath of iron winter extinguished every trace.
by Фёдор Иванович Тютчев (Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev) (14 December, 1825) translated by Robert Chandler
Fun fact: Counted amongst the admirers of Tyutchev’s works were Dostoevsky and Tolstoy along with Nekrasov and Fet. Then later Osip Mandelstam who, in a passage approved of by Shalamov, believed that a Russian poet should not have copy of Tyutchev in his personal library – he should know all of Tyutchev off by heart.
A video of the full poem being recited in Russian.
The full original Russian Cyrillic version:
14-ое ДЕКАБРЯ 1825
Вас развратило Самовластье, И меч его вас поразил,— И в неподкупном беспристрастье Сейприговор Закон скрепил. Народ, чуждаясь вероломства, Поносит ваши имена — Иваша память от потомства, Как труп вземле, схоронена.
О жертвы мысли безрассудной, Вы уповали, можетбыть, Что станет вашей крови скудной, Чтобвечный полюс растопить! Едва, дымясь,она сверкнула, На вековой громаде льдов, Зима железная дохнула — И неосталось и следов.
by ბულატ ოკუჯავა a.k.a. Булат Шалвович Окуджава a.k.a. Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava (1957 – 1959) translated by Maria Bloshteyn and Boris Dralyuk
This is an excerpt from a song about the night’s last trolleybus, which is blue and rescues the lost and lonely granting them a sense of wordless communion. Some consider Okudzhava’s gentle and welcoming songs to be this symbolic bluetrolleybus as his songs brought an intimacy into a world that had been ruled by intimidation.
Bulat Shalvovich Okudzhava (Russian: Булат Шалвович Окуджава; Georgian: ბულატ ოკუჯავა) (May 9, 1924 – June 12, 1997) was a Soviet and Russian poet, writer, musician, novelist, and singer-songwriter of Georgian-Armenian ancestry. He was one of the founders of the Soviet genre called “author song” (авторская песня), or “guitar song”, and the author of about 200 songs, set to his own poetry. His songs are a mixture of Russian poetic and folksong traditions and the French chansonnier style represented by such contemporaries of Okudzhava as Georges Brassens. Though his songs were never overtly political (in contrast to those of some of his fellow Soviet bards), the freshness and independence of Okudzhava‘s artistic voice presented a subtle challenge to Soviet cultural authorities, who were thus hesitant for many years to give official recognition to Okudzhava.
Dense, inpenetrable, Tatar, drawn from God knows when, it clings to every disaster, itself a doom without end.
by Анна Ахматова (Anna Akhmatova) a.k.a.Anna Gorenko (1960s) translation by Robert Chandler
Extra information: Akhmatova wrote the above piece about her pen name during her later years. When Anna Andreyevna Gorenko began publishing poetry, in her late teens, her father considered it an unrespectable pursuit and so she adopted her grandmother’s Tatar surname of Akhmatova as a pen name when publishing her works from then on as Anna Akhmatova by which name she is more commonly known.