|Poems by Yevtushenko
Oh what a sobering,
what a talking-to from conscience afterwards:
the short moment of frankness at the party
and the enemy crept up.
But to have learnt nothing is terrible,
and peering earnest eyes are terrible
detecting secret thoughts is terrible
in simple words and immature disturbance.
This diligent suspicion has no merit.
The blinded judges are no public servants.
It would be far more terrible to mistake
a friend than to mistake an enemy.
My love will come
will fling open her arms and fold me in them,
will understand my fears, observe my changes.
In from the pouring dark, from the pitch night
without stopping to bang the taxi door
she'll run upstairs through the decaying porch
burning with love and love's happiness,
she'll run dripping upstairs, she won't knock,
will take my head in her hands,
and when she drops her overcoat on a chair,
it will slide to the floor in a blue heap.
T H E Y have remained unaltered like nature,
not capable of a new inspiration,
happy to make outward renunciations
but without inward mutability.
They're in no hurry to understand,
they don't very much want to understand,
still ornamented in the idiot glitter
of old-fashioned armour, their old success.
And watching cowardice in place of courage
shoulder to shoulder in its careful ranks
I see the origin of this infection,
and trace the destiny of this obsession.
The mighty horses have worn down to tatters.
The knights are not hte boys of the old days:
subject to serious infirmity,
terror of honesty, terror of battle.
I AM inside the church of Koshueti:
on a wall without dogmatic loyalty
unruly saints and questionable angels
tower upwards in front of me.
And I the savage and the unawakened
can understand hiding my awkwardness
below the painted wall of the vast church,
this picture is not part of this building --
but this building is part of this picture.
The land of Lado Gudiashvili drew
the guilty on it, not the sanctified,
neither in ridicule nor in detraction
being himself tarred with the same brush.
He was God and guilty. He was angel and devil.
Writers of poems, painters of pictures,
all we creators of the invisible change,
there are so many walls we have painted
like this one in the church at Koshueti.
We painters of icons
have had amusement from the heads of the great,
we were urbane enough to get commissions
and put a bite into their execution,
and whatever the risk and whatever
the suffering we painted faithfully
the godlike humans and the human gods.
WHEN your face
appeared over my crumpled life
at first I understood
only the poverty of what I have.
Then its particular light
on woods, on rivers, on the sea,
became my beginning in the coloured world
in which I had not yet had my begninning.
I am so frightened, I am so frightened,
of the unexpected sunrise finishing,
and tears and the excitement finishing.
I don't fight it, my love is this fear,
I nourish it who can nourish nothing,
love's slipshod watchman.
Fear hems me in.
I am conscious that these minutes are short
and that the colours in my eyes will vanish
when your face sets.
WE were sitting about taking coffee
in the aerodrome cafe in Copenhagen
wehre everything was brilliance and comfort
and stylish to the point of tedium.
The old man suddenly appeared
or rather happened like an event of nature,
in an ordinary greenish anorak
his face scarred by the salt and burning wind,
ploughing a furrow through the crowded room
and walking like a sailor from the wheel.
His beard was like the white foam of the sea
brimming and glistening around his face.
His gruffness and his winner's certainty
sent up a wave around him as he walked
through the old fasions aping modern fasions
and modern fashions aping old fashions.
He in his open collare and rough shirt
stepping aside from vermouth and pernod
stood at the bar demanding Russian vodka
and waving away soda with a 'No'.
He with the scars marking his tanned forearms
his filthy trousesr and his noisy shoes
had better style than anyone in the crowd.
The solid ground seemed to quiver under
the heavy authority of that tread.
Somebody smiled across: 'Look at that!
you'd think that was Hemingway,' he said.
Expressed in details of his short gestures
and heavy motions of his fisherman's walk.
He was a statue sketched in a rough rock,
one treading down bullets and centuries,
one walking like a man hunched in a trench,
pushing aside people and furniture.
It was the very image of Hemingway.
(Later I heard that it was Hemingway.)
Yevtushenko is a fairly famous Russian poet.
He began writing around the time Stalin was dying, and he flourished in the rebirth
of russian arts following his (Stalin's) death. Yevtushenko was born in 1933, long
enough after the Revolution, the Civil War, and the death of Lenin to escape their passion,
instead finding inspiration in the inner conflict between an older ordered society, and a
new passionate one. He became the representative of a new generation, realizing old
truths through innocent eyes and leading Russia to a new era of artistic growth.
With young and outspoken verse he frets at
restraint and injustice, while lyrically and emotionally conveying the simple things of
humanity as well - love, birthdays, a holiday in Georgia.
BUY IT from Penguin Press-
"Yevtushenko Selected Poems"