Wednesday, October 17, 2012


This is coolbert:

Those Russian masters of the poetic elegy Derzhavin [1800] and Brodsky [1974] on the passing of Suvorov [1800] and Zhukov [1974].

Russian masters of the written word memorializing those Russian masters of the military art.

First from Derzhavin:

"The Bullfinch"  by Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin - - May 1800

"Why do you strike up song military
Fife-like, o, bullfinch, my friend?
Who'll take the lead in our fight with Hell's forces?
Who will command us? What Hercules?
Where is Suvorov, strong, swift and fearless?
Now Northern thunder lies dead in the grave."

"Who will ride fiery, ahead of the legions,
Nag for a steed, and crusts for meal,
Temper his sword in the heat and in ice storms,
Sleep on straw pallets, labor 'til dawn,
Bring down the armies, the walls and the forts
With but a handful of stout Russian men?"

"Who will excel in unwavering courage,
Conquering fate with a prayer and with faith,
Evil with bayonets, envy with jests?
Capturing scepters, remaining a slave,
Who will keep striving for valor alone,
Live for our Tsars, while consuming himself?"

"Glorious heroes like this one are gone now
Bullfinch cease singing your songs military!
Music of war brings us no more enjoyment.
Sad laments everywhere sound from the lyres:
Heart of a lion and wings of an eagle
Now and forever gone-how will we fight?"

Second from Brodsky:

"ON THE DEATH OF ZHUKOV" - - Joseph Brodsky 1974.

"Columns of grandsons, stiff at attention;
gun carriage, coffin, riderless horse.
Wind brings no sound of their glorious Russian
trumpets, their weeping trumpets of war.
Splendid regalia deck out the corpse:
thundering Zhukov rolls toward death’s mansion."

"As a commander, making walls crumble,
he held a sword less sharp than his foe’s.
Brilliant maneuvers across Volga flatlands
found him, like Pompey, fallen and humbled–
like Belisarius banned and disgraced."

"How much dark blood, soldier’s blood did he spill then
on alien fields? Did he weep for his men?
As he lay dying, did he recall them–
swathed in white sheets at the end?"

"He gives no answer. What will he tell them,
meeting in hell? 'We were fighting to win.'”

"Zhukov’s right arm, which once was enlisted
in a just cause, will battle no more.
Sleep! Russian history holds, as is fitting,
space for the exploits of those who, though bold,
marching triumphant through foreign cities,
trembled in terror when they came home."

"Marshal! These words will be swallowed by Lethe,
utterly lost, like your rough soldier boots.
Still, take this tribute, though it is little,
to one who somehow–here I speak truth
plain and aloud–has saved our embattled
homeland. Drum, beat! And shriek out, bullfinch fife!"

Speaking of poetry and literature, anyone know of a translation available  in English from Balzac: "The Kalmyks in Paris"? Balzac having witnessed the arrival in Paris of those Russian military contingents of  Kalmyks [1814?] COMPLETE WITH CAMELS AS BEASTS OF BURDENS!!


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