Russia (Россия), Sergei Gorodetsky

Sergei Gorodetsky with his wife, Ilya Repin, 1914
Sergei Gorodetsky with his wife: portrait by Ilya Repin, 1914

Gorodetsky (1884-1967) started his poetic life as a Symbolist; abandoned that movement and founded Acmeism with Nikolai Gumilev; and became a convinced Soviet poet – pretty much immediately after the Revolution, if this poem from 1917 is anything to go by.

Oh, how I loved you, land that bore me,
My Russia, freedom’s motherland,
When under whip you languished sorely,
Stayed silent did your people grand.

Your faith was wild and quite unseeing,
For resurrection long your wait!
And now that prison’s gates are freeing,
I see your victory in full spate.

As stately now in celebration
As when a slave and all was loss,
When dignity and exaltation
Were crucified upon the cross.

Of lasting peace for all the cosmos,
Of will, fraternity, love’s flood
You sang with ballads that were selfless
To peoples perishing in blood.

As sun in eastern aspect’s climbing,
From you a message thus is borne,
Bells hellish battle’s end are chiming,
Of living people’s truth’s the morn.

And day of garden’s beauty’s nearing
When enemies, who now are friends,
Like soldiers on the front mines clearing,
Will say: “The truth from you descends!”

Oh Russia, how I love you dearly,
Your people over world now raise
The fiery tablets for all clearly,
Unending freedom’s tablets blaze.


Как я любил тебя, родная,
Моя Россия, мать свобод,
Когда, под плетью изнывая,
Молчал великий твой народ.

В какой слепой и дикой вере
Ждал воскресенья твоего!
И вот всех тюрем пали двери,
Твое я вижу торжество.

Ты в праздник так же величава,
Как прежде в рабской нищете,
Когда и честь твоя и слава
Распяты были на кресте.

О вечном мире всей вселенной,
О воле, братстве и любви
Запела ты самозабвенно
Народам, гибнущим в крови.

Как солнце всходит от востока,
Так от тебя несется весть,
Что есть конец войне жестокой,
Живая правда в людях есть.

И близок день прекрасней рая,
Когда враги, когда друзья,
Как цепи, фронты разрывая,
Воскликнут: “Истина твоя!”

Как я люблю тебя, Россия,
Когда над миром твой народ
Скрижали поднял огневые,
Скрижали вечные свобод.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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