Still He Lay Without Moving, As If, After Some Difficult… by Vasily Zhukovsky

Still he lay without moving, as if, after some difficult

task, he had folded his arms. Head quietly bowed, I stood

still for a long time, looking attentively into the dead man’s

eyes. These eyes were closed. Nevertheless, I could

see on that face I knew so well a look I had never

glimpsed there before. It was not inspiration’s flame,

nor did it seem like the blade of his wit. No, what I could

see there,

wrapped round his face, was thought, some deep, high

thought.

Vision, some vision, I thought must have come to home. And I

wanted to ask, ‘What is it? What do you see?’

 

by Василий Андреевич Жуковский (Vasily Andreyevich Zhukovsky)

(1837)

translated by Robert Chandler


 

Fun fact: Ivan Bunin, the Nobel Prize winning Russian emigre author, is related to him.

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Nicholas Was… by Neil Gaiman

Nicholas Was…

older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die.

The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in

their own, twittering tongue, conducted incomprehensible rituals, when they were not

actually working in the factories.

Once every year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night. During the

journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves’ invisible

gifts by its bedside. The children slept, frozen into time.

He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas. His punishment was harsher.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

 

by Neil Gaiman

from Smoke & Mirrors


In 1989, Neil Gaiman and Sandman artist David McKean collaborated on a hundred word Christmas card story titled “Nicholas Was.” Below is a short animated version created by 39 Degrees North Studio.


 

 


 

The Poppies Do Not Weep For You

You pulled apart her crimson petal folds and exposed her dark warmth. You didn’t like that she had been fertile by another before. But then it didn’t stop you craving her alabaster tears did it? Good men like you used violence and threats to get what you wanted. Especially when defending your misbegotten sense of pride.

Others fought with you for a cause no one believed in. Those who abstained you called chickens, ostracised and called upon the women back home to shame on your behalf while you took comfort in another’s arms within foreign tracts of land. You fought the good fight, as did your opponents, each believing the same thing but on opposite sides of a land no man could ever live in. Only the poppies and the crows attended them.

You became damaged in time and that beloved red whore’s tears were all that could numb your pain, numb the reoccurring memories and helped you forget what you had done. At first you could deal with it because others gave you it in small vials but in time you needed them more and more until you took what you could get and drowned in them. Other good men were brought to ruin too but you were hidden away in your shame of weeping wounds.

Those who had abstained, unlike you, could live their life, as the sepia memories faded like a photograph in the stark sunlight, but you were nothing more than a rotting skeleton in a low lit dragon’s den where you had long given up the chase to survive.

Those who didn’t return with you still lay in that foreign land, foreign even to its locals, as the poppies feasted upon their flesh of those good men laid low and drank their saviours’ blood as if it were wine. Good men still giving to the land they defended even in death.

Your favourite harlot can no longer soothe your ills with her tears. She never could. There are no tears that can soothe such a good man’s ills.


It’s pointless to edit this or make it better. There is no payback and it is a waste of time. Someone will steal this and use it elsewhere. Some kid too lazy to do their own English comprehension homework. They will not get good marks for it.