Home > Uncategorized > Alexander Blok: The kite, the mother and endless war

Alexander Blok: The kite, the mother and endless war

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Russian writers on war

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Alexander Blok
Translated by Alex Miller

The Kite (1916)

Describing circle after circle,
The wheeling kite looks down upon
A dream-like, empty meadow. A mother
Grieves in the cabin for her son:
“Here, suck this breast, here, take this bread.
Grow up, be humble, trust in God.”

The ages pass, endless war rages,
Revolt flares, villages are burned,
But you are still the same, my homeland,
In beauty ancient and tear-stained.
How long must that poor mother cry,
How long the kite wheel in the sky?

*****

Untitled (1905)

Then they charged, straight at
the breast-bone
Came the glittering bayonet.
Someone shouted, “Hallelujah!”
Someone whispered, “Don’t forget!”

Someone fell, arms flailing wildly,
Then the ranks closed over him.
Underfoot, someone was struggling,
Who – no time to take it in.

Only in a cheerful memory
Was a candle lit somewhere,
On and on they thundered, trampling
That warm body lying there.

No one’s destined to grow older –
Death from mouth to mouth is passed…
Fury blazes ever higher,
Far ahead lies bloody waste…

Gnashing shall be all the louder.
Pain more sweet, life swifter spent.
Afterwards, the earth will try to
Soothe the affrighted firmament.

*****

Untitled (1911)

Yes, inspiration so commands me:
My vision, being wholly free,
Is drawn to where all’s degradation,
And dirt, and gloom, and poverty.
And yet I love this world of horror;
Through it I glimpse another one,
A promised land that’s full of beauty,
A land that’s simple and humane.
But if you neither sow nor harvest,
If you’re just human, as you say –
What can you know? How can you venture
Judgement in this mad century?
Have you not been reduced by sickness,
Poverty or starvation ever?
Have you not seen children in Paris?
Beggars in winter by the river?
Open your eyes, open them quickly,
To life’s unfathomable horrors,
Before the great storm that’s impending
destroys all in this land of yours.
But do not let your proud wrath strike
The ones who bear life’s heavy burden.
Another sowed the seeds of evil.
And yet that sowing was not barren…
He’s right, who has at least rejected
Life’s cheap cosmetic show outright,
And, like the timid mole, has burrowed
Underground, hiding from the light,
And wilted there, his whole life hating
That light and railing at it so,
Not even looking to the future,
And saying to the present, “No!”

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