Tuesday, 10 April 2018

I feel that I have chosen everything - Vasily Grossman

I feel that I have chosen everything -
The time and place, the day I came into the world;
I chose the strength to suffer fire, to fling
Myself into the water, to be hurled
Into the stench of flesh, smeared and profaned
With blood and pus, dabbed with these wads of filth
And fouled by the ten-horned beast – his belly's stealth
And blasphemies have left my soul unstained!
For I believe in justice from above,
The imponderable source of best and worst
That hears burned Russia speak in flames – and burst
Free in these words! Great lord of truth and love!
You carve in plenitudes of fire the life
Which craves abundance, craves your absolute -
Prune to fruition with your burning knife!
The tree submits! Now make my soul your fruit!

Vasily Grossman (1905 - 1964) Russia (born in Ukraine)
Translated by Robert Chandler
Source: Life and Fate, Vintage, 2006

This poem is featured in his masterpiece Life and Fate and is spoken by Prince Dolgoruky in a Russian labour camp (Part 1, Chapter 40)

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