Monologue of the Bratsk Station by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

yevtushenko

Евгений Евтушенко (Yevgeniy Yevtushenko)

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Russian revolutionaries destroying a statue of Tsar Alexander. (Source)

Monologue of the Bratsk Station

PYRAMID,

I am the daughter of Russia,

A country incomprehensible to you.

She was christened in childhood with a lash,

Torn to pieces,

scorched.

Her soul was trampled by the feet,

inflicting blow upon blow,

of Pechenegs,

Varangians,

Tatars,

and our own people –

much more terrible than the Tatars.

And the ravens feathers grew glossy,

but legends grew from the bones,

while fables of Russia’s mighty endurance

built up throughout the world.

And then Russia’s endurance became famous.

It grew to heroic stature.

She was kneaded like clay, with her own blood.

Yes, she did endure.  That’s all.

And to the barge-hauler, his shoulder rubbed through by the straps,

and to the ploughman, fallen in the steppes,

she whispered, with a mother’s tenderness,

the eternal: ‘Have patience, my little son, have patience!’…

I can understand it all, how for many long years Russia

endured famine, and cold,

and the inhuman tortures of cruel wars,

and the burden of back-breaking toil,

and spongers, lying as far as they could go,

and every different kind of falsehood,

but what I can’t understand is this: how did she bear

her own endurance?

There is a feeble, pitiable endurance.

In it there is a total crushing of the inmost being,

in  it there is a slavish obedience, a torpor…

Russia’s essence is not like that at all.

Her endurance is the courage of the prophet,

who is wisely patient.

She has endured it all…

But only up to a certain point,

like a mine.

And then

came

the explosion!

The Pyramid Interrupts

I am against

any sort of explosion….

I have seen enough!

Stabbing

hacking,

but how much benefit from it all, if any?

Just blood spilt for nothing!

The Bratsk Station Continues

For nothing?

I am recalling the past,

repeat to myself again

prophetic lines:

‘Foundations laid on blood,

stand firm.’

And above the cranes

and the scaffolding,

Pyramid,

with the scoop of the excavator

I am lifting the Moscow of taverns and boyars’ houses

aiming through the midges at you.

Have a look:

in the scoop

golden cupolas

are sticking out

over its teeth.

What has happened there?

    Why are the bells

tolling full pelt, so sullenly?

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Photo source: Mikhail Kryshen on Flickr

Yevtushenko

Yevgeny Yevtushenko was born in 1933 in Zima, Siberia, of a peasant family.  This poem is from a collection based on Bratsk in Siberia, the centre of a great hydroelectric and industrial complex.  Siberia was where political prisoners were sent. during the Soviet era.  His poetry was often delivered aloud in public and addressed the relationship between a country and its people.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko was born in 1933 in Zima, Siberia, of a peasant family.  This poem is from a collection based on Bratsk in Siberia, the centre of a great hydroelectric and industrial complex.  Siberia was where political prisoners were sent. during the Soviet era.  His poetry was often delivered aloud in public and addressed the relationship between a country and its people. (Read more about Yevtushenko here and here.)

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