[…] And once again
you will have the strength
to see and recognize
how all you have ever loved
will begin to torment you.
And at once, like a werewolf,
a friend will appear
before you and slander you,
and another will push you away.
And the temptations will start:
‘Renounce! Disavow! Forswear!’
And your soul will writhe
in the grip of anguish and fear.
And you will have the strength,
once again, to repeat one thing:
‘I forswear nothing – nothing –
of all I have lived my life by.’
And once again, remembering
these days, you will have the strength
to cry out to all you have loved:
‘Come back! Come back to me!’
by Ольга Фёдоровна Берггольц (Olga Fyodorovna Berggolts)
a.k.a. Olga Fyodorovna Bergholz
(January 1939, Cell 33)
translated by Robert Chandler
A Soviet poet, writer, playwright and journalist. She is most famous for her work on the Leningrad radio during the city’s blockade, when she became the symbol of the city’s strength and determination.
In December 1938 she was imprisoned for several months and was only released after suffering a miscarriage from being beaten during interrogations. The above extract is from one of her prison poems.