Sergei Yesenin

Soviet Russ

To A. Sakharov

The hurricane has passed. Few have survived, So many old friends, far too many you find gone. Now, after eight long years, I have again arrived At my old village, in my childhood home. Whom shall I call? With whom am I to share The melancholy joy that I am living? The very windmill here broods with a sleepy air, A timber bird, its one wing slowly swinging... I am a stranger, known to no one here, Long since forgotten by the folks who knew me. And where my home once stood-tier upon tier Of dust and ashes, ashes, dust and ruins. Yet life goes on. And people young and old Are bustling all around me, but there's none That I could tip my hat to, not a soul Whose eyes would offer me a welcome home. And thoughts like busy bees swarm in my mind: Just what is home? Your dreams? No more than dreams? To most I'm just a pilgrim of a morbid kind From God knows where appearing on the scene. Who, me? A citizen of this place, This village which, if ever, will be starred Only because it's here a woman by God's grace Gave birth to me, to Russia's scapegrace bard! Then, to my heart the voice of reason speaks: "Come to your senses, everything's all right. There is no cause for you to feel so piqued. Another generation's kindled its new light. "You have begun to fade a bit, old chap. And other songs are sung these days by others, Their songs will be more interesting, perhaps. The world-not just the village-is their Mother." Oh Motherland! How funny I've become. My hollow cheeks are flushed, I cannot understand My fellow citizens, theirs is a foreign tongue, And I - I am an alien in my native land! The villagers, as once they came to church. Have gathered at the volost office on a Sunday To talk of life. They don't say very much, Their dialogue careless, and the topics mundane. The day is done. The sunset unbewitching Has thinly sprayed the greying field with gilt. Below the gates, the poplars in the ditches Look like so many heifers' legs stuck in the silt. A lame Red Army man with face by nature stony. Now wrinkled up with memory and thought, Sedately tells the gathering about Budyonny, And how the Reds for Perekop had fought. "We went for him, we sure did go, and how! We made Crimea hot for him, the so-and-so..." The maples wrinkle up the ears go their long boughs, And in the semi-darkness women gasp in awe... The village Komsomols are coming down the hill With concertinas and all hollering the verse Of Demyan Bedny, with a verve and will To wake the dead and rouse the universe. That's Russia for you! And I used to yell About my friendship with the people. What the hell! Nobody needs my poems any more. And I myself am nothing but a bore. Ah well, my home, forgive me all my wrongs, If I was any use to you my conscience will be quelled. And never mind that I'am no longer sung. You know I sang you when you were unwell. All I accept. All, absolutely all. I am prepared to walk a trodden track, To Mayday and October I will pledge my soul. But there is just one thing I must keep back: My lyre. I will not give it to another, Not to my wife, my best friend, or my mother. To me alone its music it confided, To me alone its tender songs it sang. Grow strong in body, blossom out, young poets! You have a different life, you sing another tune, While I, I'll go alone to regions unbeknownst, My spirit mutinous at last subdued. And when the enmity of tribes on earth Will stop, lies too, and sorrow will have passed. I'll still extol with all my poet's worth The sixth part of the world, called briefly Russ.

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