I walk in the woods.
By fallen trees,
I cross the woodland streams.
I build myself a shelter, light a bonfire,
(Even when it’s raining,
All I need is one match
To light a good fire)
And I camp out under the rustle of rain.
Sometimes I clamber up towards the clouds,
By way of the yellow pine branches
Covered with scaling bark.
Are beginning their run,
Swooping like Messerschmidts.
I see their taloned feet, clasped,
Ready to sink into flesh with a deadly grip;
Into grey-hen’s flesh,
Into thrush’s flesh,
Into nightingale’s flesh,
Into quail’s –
So long as it is hot,
So long as the fresh blood spurts when
These talons sink into it,
Curved, hawk’s talons.
I see again the eyes too
Of the swooping hawks.
The fire that burns indistinguishably in them,
Lighting the animal darkness,
Lends me determination.
(With one hand I grasp the branches,
Holding a stick in the other,
To protect the eyes and head.)
Even like this, I manage to reach the nest,
Seize the dark, rough twigs,
Like a righteous, irate god
(Debris and birds’ droppings pour down on me, into my eyes,
And the pine
Sways smoothly, pleasantly, to right and left)
Until I dislodge the nest.
Splintering, breaking against the branches, it bumps downwards,
Fledgelings and all,
For, strange as it may seem,
The pretty fledgelings
Grow into hawks again,
With talons tightly clasped,
Ready to sink into flesh…
That is why I climb the pine tree
There’s a hawk nesting,
Right at the top.
(Vladimir Alexeyevich Soloukhin)
translated by Daniel Weissbort
Additional information: Soloukhin lived from 1924 to 1997.
At the Moscow meeting of writers on October 31, 1958, he took part in the condemnation of the novel Doctor Zhivargo by Boris Pasternak. Soloukhin noted about the Nobel Prize laureate that Pasternak should become an emigrant:
“He will not be able to tell anything interesting there. And in a month he will be thrown out like an eaten egg, like a squeezed lemon. And then it will be a real execution for the betrayal that he committed ”[Apologies for the rough translation. The original quote in Cyrillic is on Soloukhin’s Russian language Wikipedia page].
In his journalism of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the writer spoke out as a Russian patriot, pointed out the need to preserve national Russian traditions, and reflect on the development of Russian art.
The main theme of Soloukhin‘s work is the Russian countryside, its present and future. His works strive to demonstrate the necessity of preserving the national traditions, and ponder the ways to further develop ethnic Russian art. Vladimir Soloukhin is considered to be a leading figure of the “village prose” group of writers. His journalistic expressions of opinion during the later years of perestroika idealized pre-revolutionary Russia.
In the early 1960s he became interested in Russian icons, became an advocate for respect and attention towards them, becoming a collector and specialist in the interpretation and technique of icon painting himself. His publications on this subject – “Letters from the Russian Museum” (1966), “Black Boards” (1968) received a wide public response.
Soloukhin‘s book “Searching for Icons in Russia” describes his hobby of collecting icons. He traveled throughout the countryside in the 1950s and 1960s searching for icons. In some instances he discovered beautiful 16th century icons underneath layers of grime and over-painting yet he also finds ancient icons chopped into bits and rotting away.
He was known for his campaign to preserve pre-revolutionary Russian art and architecture. Ilya Glazunov painted a portrait of him. Soloukhin died on 4 April 1997 in Moscow and was buried in his native village.
If you are able to find the Russian Cyrillic version of the above poem and direct me to it I would very much appreciated it.