Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko

by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Russia has lost Russia in Russia.
Russia searches for itself
like a cut finger in snow,
a needle in a haystack,
like an old blind woman madly stretching her hand in fog,
searching with hopeless incantation
for her lost milk cow.

We buried our icons.
We didn't believe in our own great books.
We fight only with alien grievances.

It is true that we didn't survive under our own yoke,
becoming for ourselves worse than foreign enemies?
Is it true that we are doomed to live only in the silk
nightgowns of dreams, eaten by moths? --
Or in numbered prison robes?

Is it true that epilepsy is our national character?
Or convulsions of pride?
Or convulsions of self-humiliation?
Ancient rebellions against new copper kopecks,
against such foreign fruits as potatoes are
now only a harmless dream.

Today's rebellion swamps the entire Kremlin
like a mortal tide --
Is it true that we Russians have only one unhappy choice?
The ghost of Tsar Ivan the Terrible?
Or the Ghost of Tsar Chaos?
So many impostors. Such "imposterity."

Everyone is a leader, but no one leads.
We are confused as to which bannners and slogans to carry.
And such a fog in our hands
that everyone is wrong
and everyone guilty of something.

We already have walked enough in such a fog,
in blood up to our knees.
Lord, you've already punished us enough.
Forigve us, pity us.

Is it true that we no longer exist?
Or are we not yet born?
We are birthing now,
But it's painful to be born again.

translated from the Russian by James Ragan and Yevgeny Yevtushenko

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