Home > Uncategorized > Georgi Markov: War is a glutton. Its terrible hunger is never sated.

Georgi Markov: War is a glutton. Its terrible hunger is never sated.

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

Russian writers on war

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Georgi Markov
From Siberia
Translated by Cathleen Cook

There must have been about fifteen or twenty of them. Katya mentally divided them into two groups: the very young ones whose voices had barely broken, and the others who had seen something of the world and known suffering and grief. Two were on crutches, another had an empty sleeve tucked into his belt, and three had wooden legs of fresh birchwood that stood out strangely among the black and grey boots. They were wearing sheepskin or homespun jackets, fur hats, and mittens of dog-, moose- or sheepskin. Three were still in their army greatcoats and grey soldier’s hats, or else they were about to be sent back to their units after a spell in hospital or on leave.

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She was particularly interested in the soldiers. They reacted with everything going on here with a sort of condescending indulgence as if it were unreal and remote to them. Alright, lads, enjoy yourselves until your turn comes and fate casts you into the inferno of war. This was what Katya read in their eyes, eyes dulled by suffering and glimmering faintly with grief.

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Tall and erect, with an open face and large dark-blue eyes, he immediately inspired liking and trust. He was probably the eldest in the group, but perhaps he just seemed so. War doesn’t make you look any younger.

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The lads were looking down, their faces rigid. Some had already tasted the soldier’s life, and others would tomorrow. War is a glutton. Its terrible hunger is never sated. Each day news arrived that more village lads had been killed, and the number of widows and orphans in Lukyanovka grew.

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Everyone could see that peace would not last for long between the two men, but they knew that a reluctant peace was better than war. War had been raging over the earth for many a year now and it seemed that there would never be an end of it and all the suffering it brought.

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“They’re probably after deserters and just stopped us out of curiosity,” said Masha.

“What deserters?” Katya had been thinking….

“What deserters? Deserters from the war, of course. Mobilisation’s going on all the time.They’ll be calling up boys and old men soon. Our father spends nearly all his time in the forest. He says lots of secret dug-outs have appeared there. Men have gone into hiding. They even hide from him.”

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How could she possibly have any doubts when young lives were being cut down, when talent went unrecognized, when the brilliant scholars who could bring glory to their native land were forced to flee abroad, when torrents of human blood were being shed in the war?

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