I, He Says, Am No Warrior

(The following is the second in a series of five poems I am posting from The New Russian Poets: 1953 to 1966: An Anthology, selected, edited, and translated by George Reavey. I am also including my original photography with the posts.
This is an early poem by Novella Matveyeva, written well before she had established herself as an award-winning poet, screenwriter, literary theorist, and Russian
bard, which in this context refers to one who wrote songs with styles and topics outside the Soviet status quo. Matveyeva died in 2016.)

I, HE SAYS, AM NO WARRIOR20170514_205940
Novella Matveyeva

I, he says, am no warrior,
I, he says, am split in two,
I, he says, am disturbed,
Quartered,
Crucified!
You, I say, are no warrior,
You, I say, are split in two,
Crucified and quartered,
But you are no bungler.
Puffing at a pipe,
Taking yourself apart
As one does a meat-grinder,
You may well be right.
But you had better know! This night
Enemies will come to you;
I see them very plainly,
I hear their footsteps approaching…
You hear them!
You don’t hear them?
They’re already hurrying…
Like mice, they’re scampering
Towards your spiritual larder.
And briskly they will steal
In darkness and in quiet
The splintered portions
Of your ailing spirit.
20170514_205957
“And what will they start doing
To this soul of mine?”
And what will they start doing
To that soul all smashed, but ample?”
“They’ll paint the second part,
And they will rule the third;
The fourth they will ferment,
And they’ll inflate the fifth,
The sixth they’ll set on fire,
And then take to their heels.
There was a man, no warrior,
There was a man who’s split in two,
There was a man that’s incomplete,
And all the time he must have lied:
Then hearing of disaster,
He began to wink more often,
And raked these parts together,
And — passably! — gathered them into one.

1965

Statues, 2007


Source:
Reavey, George, ed. The New Russian Poets: 1953-1966: An Anthology. Comp./Trans. George Reavey. 1st ed. New York: October House Inc., 1966.
Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “I, He Says, Am No Warrior.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 23 May 2017. Web.

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