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Russian War Poetry

Discussion in 'War44 General Forums' started by Zoya, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. Zoya

    Zoya recruit

    Mar 14, 2008
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    I have enjoyed reading some of the Russian WWII war poetry, which differs a lot from the WWI poets, such as Owen, Sassoon etc. Whereas these and other WWI poets focused on the horror/injustice of war, the Russian war poets focused more on patriotic glory, the glorious Motherland, the honour of fighting and dying for Mother Russia etc. The style is very different.

    Here are some examples:

    It's not for us to calmly rot in graves.
    We'll lie stretched out in our half-open coffins
    And hear before the dawn the cannon coughing,
    The regimental bugle calling gruffly
    From highways which we trod, our land to save.

    We know by heart all rules and regulations.
    What's death to us? A thing that we despise.
    Lined up in graves, our dead detachment lies
    Awaiting orders. And let generations
    To come, when talking of the dead, be wise;
    Dead men have ears and eyes for truth and lies.

    Nicolai Mayorov
    Translated by Dorian Rottenberg
    In February 1942 Nikolai Mayorov, political instructor of a machine-gun company, died in action in Smolensk Region.


    We rose at dawn,
    When night crept close to day.
    The wind that blew was fresh and light
    and fitful,

    A little briny and a little bitter.
    As on an open palm the sea before us lay,
    With fishing boats its surface strewn,
    the advent

    Of morning marking....
    Under foam-washed boulders
    (Quite large they were and black and sleek
    and shiny),

    Beneath dark sea-weed, butter-soft and slimy,
    The bullheads moved their bulky tops, and twisted
    Their narrow tails.
    The ship to the horizon
    Was firmly glued.
    The sparkle of the rising
    Sun hurt the eyes.
    The contours of the misty
    Shores were a trifle vague and undefined.
    We`ll not surrender you, Odessa, city mine!
    Let death walk every street;
    With hoarse and choking sound,
    Let homes in flame go up and topple to the ground.

    Let acrid smoke eat at our eyes, let bread
    Give off the smell of powder and of lead -
    Odessa, city mine,
    My friend and comrade true,
    Odessa, city mine,
    We`ll not surrender you!

    Vsevolod Bagritsky
    1941 Translated by Irina Zheleznova
    Vsevolod Bagritsky was fallen by an enemy bullet while jotting down some facts passed on to him by one of the men. This was on February 26, 1942, in the village of Dubovik, the Leningrad Region.
  2. brandon05

    brandon05 New Member

    Jan 11, 2008
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    I have honestly not read much poetry about the War. Thanks for sharing those with us. Do you have a book of war poetry you would recommend? Thanks
  3. writerip

    writerip New Member

    Mar 29, 2008
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    This is fascinating. I was unaware that such poetry had been published. Please let us know the name of a good book. This could prompt such an excellent study for my homeschooled teenagers.

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