‘June Would Be Clammy, January Crisp’ by Boris Slutsky

June would be clammy, January crisp;

and concrete solid, sand unstable.

For there was order. Real order.

 

People got up and went to work.

And then they watched The Happy Fellas

at cinemas. For there was order.

 

In pedigrees and in parades,

political police, and apparatus,

even in parodies – there was order.

 

People made fun, and were afraid,

only of those they were supposed to,

for there was order, real order.

 

An order of the bent and bashed.

In hours, in minutes, and in seconds,

in years as well, there was real order.

 

It would have gone on without end,

but then a certain person fell,

and all this order went to hell.

 

by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий (Boris Abramovich Slutsky)

(early 1960s)

translated by G. S. Smith


Fun facts: Obviously the ‘certain person’ was Stalin and his era of terror where indeed there was order, compared to the era of thaw, but I was surprised to find actually ‘The Happy Fellas’ actually does exist! It is the 1934 film Веселые ребята a.k.a. ‘Jolly Fellows’ or ‘Funny Boys’ depending on how you choose to translate the title.

Jolly Fellows (Russian: Весёлые ребята Vesyolye rebyata), also translated as Happy-Go-Lucky Guys, Moscow Laughs and Jazz Comedy, is a 1934 Soviet musical film, directed by Grigori Aleksandrov and starring his wife Lyubov Orlova, a gifted singer and the first recognized star of Soviet cinema.

The script was written by Aleksandrov, Vladimir Mass, and Nikolai Erdman (whose father briefly appears on screen as a German music teacher). It features several songs which instantly became classics across the Soviet Union. The most famous song — “Kak mnogo devushek khoroshikh” (Such a lot of nice girls) — enjoyed international fame, covered as “Serdtse” (Heart) by Pyotr Leshchenko. Music was by Isaak Dunayevsky, the lyrics were written by the Soviet poet Vasily Lebedev-Kumach.

Both Orlova and her co-star, the jazz singer and comic actor Leonid Utyosov, were propelled to stardom after this movie.

Slutsky, of course, is mocking how the film is sacchrine, state sanctioned, sanitised humorous entertainment with no challenging elements or anything that might make the audience think about their social hardships they are living through during Stalin’s era of non-conforming people being made to ‘disappear’ for speaking or acting out, gulags and starvation. Everything is fine citizen, watch the film and feel good about life… everything is in order. No one deviates, no one transgresses, no one thinks or acts differently. There is order – or else!

Farm Wife by R. S. Thomas

Hers is the clean apron, good for fire

Or lamp to embroider, as we talk slowly

In the long kitchen, while the white dough

Turns to pastry in the great oven,

Sweetly and surely as hay making

In a June meadow; hers are the hands,

Humble with milking, but still now

In her wide lap as though they heard

A quiet music, hers being the voice

That coaxes time back to the shadows

In the room’s corners. O, hers is all

This strong body, the safe island

Where men may come, sons and lovers,

Daring the cold seas of her eyes.

 

by R. S. Thomas

from Poetry for Supper (1958)

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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