Tag Archives: russia

“And the poem, I think, is only your voice speaking.” ― Virginia Woolf, “The Waves” – a Guest Post by Veronica Sizova

“And the poem, I think, is only your voice speaking.”

― Virginia Woolf, “The Waves”

I was delighted when Veronica did me the honour of accepting my invitation to appear on my website, as I am a huge fan of Veronica’s writing.

Veronica Sizova

Veronica Sizova

It is a pleasure to meet you, lovely readers of K. Morris! I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Kevin. It is a great honour to be featured on the blog of such an excellent poet! His creative writing is an infinite source of inspiration and a beam of positivity in these uncertain times.

My name is Veronica Sizova, and today I am going to tell you how an eighteen-year-old girl has found her destiny in literature.

As soon as I’ve learned to read, the dream of becoming a writer encompassed my naive imagination. When I’ve opened a book of poetry for the first time, I was utterly spellbound by the power of words – the freedom of poetic expression, its infinite possibilities and irresistible charms have conquered my heart once and forever. My gloomy hometown, Yekaterinburg, an industrial city in the middle of Russia, is far from lyrical. Nevertheless, I have tried to find beauty even in its stern, wintry spirit.

The call for liberation from the confinement of an authoritarian Motherland has ignited my desire to study abroad. Two years ago, I got an incredibly lucky opportunity to attend a Canadian high school. This extraordinary experience not only enriched my cultural awareness but also inspired me to start writing in English. As unbelievable as it may sound, I have finally found my own voice – in an unfamiliar country, among people from different backgrounds.

The first poem I wrote in English was inspired by Bob Dylan’s timeless song, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Its lyrics capture the essence of tragedy with brilliant simplicity, and I was aiming to achieve a similar effect. Hopefully, this ode to the loss of a loved one will resonate with your soul.

I’m knocking on your Heaven’s Door

As restlessly, as reckless waves –

Remember – when they reached the shore –

You have succumbed to Death’s embrace.

The sun reflected in your eyes:

Its blinding, fatal afterglow –

A witness to the heart’s demise –

Took your ethereal, light soul…

This tiny door contains the world,

Replacing millions of words;

Shakespeare is writing there in gold –

The clouds are parchment, stars – the chords.

Please, let me in – the flames will rush,

Spilling themselves – my tears of love –

But there’s no lustre left so lush –

The earthly beacons aren’t enough!

I keep on calling through the mist;

Wings rustle softly with the tide,

As if an angel holds my wrist

And whispers: “Let me be your guide!”

I will stay by this Heavenly Door,

As the billions of centuries pass –

“Dearest, give me the keys,” I implore,

Still lamenting your final caress…

As the feeble thread sets us apart,

The Creator is honing his knife –

“Live or not to?” He asks every heart

While exclaiming – “How precious is life!”

I’m knocking on your Heaven’s door

For the myriads of desolate days:

No one answers me anymore,

Since you saw the oncoming waves…

Thank you for taking the time to appreciate my work – every new reader is a balm to the writer’s soul!

You can find more creative writing on my website: https://thewavesofpoetry.wordpress.com/

If you share my passion for capturing the fleeting moments, feel free to explore the Instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/veronica_bloomsbury/

I hope to get in touch with you soon!

Remains of Poet Sameul Taylor Coleridge Rediscovered In 17-Century Wine Cellar

The remains of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge have been rediscovered in a 17th-century wine cellar, which is now part of the crypt of a church, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/apr/12/samuel-taylor-coleridge-poet-remains-rediscovered-wine-cellar.

My favourite Coleridge poem is “Kubla Khan” which is reproduced below:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Earlier this evening I came across a blogger (who shall remain nameless), who remains convinced that the British had something to do with the Salisbury poisoning and the Russians are, basically innocent of this horrendous crime. It is tempting to think that some people have been at “the honey-dew” or have been taking something rather stronger than “the milk of paradise”. There loyalty certainly is not to Britain or the democratic system under which we are privileged to live in these islands.

As “The Guardian” states, “The international chemical weapons watchdog has backed the UK’s findings on the identity of the chemical used to poison the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury”. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/12/novichok-used-in-spy-poisoning-chemical-weapons-watchdog-confirms-salisbury

How Stalin Hid Ukraine’s Famine From The World

The Atlantic has published a fascinating article by Anne Applebaum entitled “How Stalin Hid Ukraine’s Famine From The World”. In it Applebaum shows how the majority of western journalists in the Soviet Union denied that famine was present in Ukraine despite being well aware of its presence. The vast majority of the western press feared losing their journalistic accreditation to work in the Soviet Union so used terms such as “hunger”.

Applebaum relates the story of Lloyd George’s Private Secretary who managed to obtain permission to visit Ukraine (there was a ban on journalists visiting famine stricken areas) and blew the whistle on this largely man-made disaster, which flowed from forced collectivisation of agriculture and the state’s requisitioning of food from starving peasants. To their shame western journalists accused Jones (Lloyd George’s Private Secretary) of exaggerating the famine, despite them being well aware that he was not doing so.

You can read Applebaum’s article here, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/red-famine-anne-applebaum-ukraine-soviet-union/542610/..

Mass Murderers Both

Yesterday evening I bumped into an old acquaintance in the pub. Our conversation ranged far and wide and at one point touched on the atrocities perpetrated by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. There was some discussion as to which dictator was the worst criminal, with my acquaintance maintaining that Stalin was the greater due to him having murdered around 20 million of his own people. My view of the matter is set-out in my poem, “Hitler and Stalin” which first appeared here some time ago:

The Gulag.
The present like the past is mad.
Black clad figures
Their fingers on triggers.
Russian or Prussian?
An interesting discussion.
Jews and Kulaks their lives lose.
Who to choose?
A man drowning in his country’s blood,
Or one who would destroy Jewry if he could?
What a choice.
History’s voice
is cold and level,
“We allied with the devil,
To destroy his twin,
the mirror image of him.
The world is a better place
But a nasty taste
Still lingers.
Man has burned his fingers,
To often,
History’s lessons are easily forgotten”.

On Going Through My Junk Mail Folder

“Russian Women Online”,
I am fine
As I am
without your spam!
Go away
I will not pay.
Whatever you say
About beautiful women.
My money I will not be binning.
I will save my hard earned cash.
There you go, into the trash!
Today I will not be sinning.
Goodbye Russian women!

The above was prompted by an email received in my spam folder today (29 December 2015). I can not for the life of me think why Gmail placed this missive in junk mail …!

Hitler And Stalin

The Gulag.

The present like the past is mad.

Black clad figures

Their fingers on triggers.

Russian or Prussian?

An interesting discussion.

Jews and Kulaks their lives lose.

Who to choose?

A man drowning in his country’s blood,

Or one who would destroy Jewry if he could?

What a choice.

History’s voice

is cold and level,

“We allied with the devil,

To destroy his twin,

the mirror image of him.

The world is a better place

But a nasty taste

Still lingers.

Man has burned his fingers,

To often,

History’s lessons are easily forgotten”.

 

 

 

Uncle Vanya By Anton Chekhov Review

Last night I attended a production of Uncle Vanya performed by the Richmond Shakespeare Society, at the Mary Walace theatre in Twickenham. The Richmond Shakespeare Society introduces Chekhov’s play in the following manner,

 

“I always used to think cranks were ill or abnormal, until I realised that to be a crank was man’s normal condition”

Uncle Vanya is arguably the first great modernist drama, full of ambiguities and contradictions, delicately balancing the tragic and the absurd, the farcical

and the hauntingly poetic. Maxim Gorky wrote that “its ideas are huge, symbolic and its form original, incomparable”. Certainly its themes, particularly

the passing of time and the process of ageing, are universal. Trapped in the claustrophobic depths of rural Russia, Chekhov’s assortment of all-too-human

characters drive each other mad, as the arrival of two outsiders forces the incumbents to re-examine the choices they have made. Old wounds are reopened,

passions awakened, thwarted ambitions bubble to the surface and lives are turned upside down. Our adaptation is by Oscar-winning playwright Christopher

Hampton, who has said, “Uncle Vanya doesn’t have a suicide, like The Seagull, or an adulterous couple and a duel like Three Sisters. All it has is a series

of ludicrously bungled attempts at murder and suicide and adultery. Perhaps these failures are what makes it feel the saddest and most truthful” of Chekhov’s

great tragi-comic masterpieces”. (http://www.richmondshakespeare.org.uk/).

The production left me feeling a deep sense of sadness at the futility of the characters lives which is, no doubt precisely what Chekhov intended. Uncle Vanya who is, in essence a kindly man has become cynical and depressed due to his long residence on a provincial country estate in 19th century Russia. Vanya’s love for the professor’s young wife is not reciprocated and Vanya cuts a half comic, half pathetic figure in his fruitless pursuit of her.

The Professor spends much of the day in bed malingering and much of the rest working on books about art which, as Vanya notes no one will read. His young wife flutters like a trapped bird wishing to escape her cage but, as with the Professor’s daughter fears to break away and, ultimately remains imprisoned. The Professor’s daughter is infatuated and, possibly in love with the provincial doctor but her feelings are not returned, the Doctor being attracted to the Professor’s beautiful young wife who, as noted earlier can not break out of her cage.

In Uncle Vanya one witnesses the death of idealism. The Doctor speaks passionately about planting forests which in centuries to come will give joy to the people, however his love (perhaps better described as lust) for the Professor’s wife causes him to abandon his forestry projects leaving the young trees to be damaged by the animals of the peasantry.

Matters come to a head when the Professor tries to persuade Vanya who has been managing the estate on his behalf to sell it. Vanya makes an unsuccessful attempt to shoot the Professor who leaves with his wife followed, shortly after by the Doctor who’s attempts to draw the Professor’s wife into adultery have failed.

The household returns to “normality” with Vanya and it’s other members waiting for the release which death will in time bring.

 

In order to attend productions at the Mary Walace it is necessary to be a member of The Richmond Shakespeare Society although members can purchase tickets on behalf of non-members. My thanks goes to Emily, my friend Brian’s partner, for bringing my attention to this production and inviting me along). Bleak and profoundly sad and brilliantly performed.

Grandson Of Joseph Stalin Defends His ancestor’s Reputation

An article in The Daily Mail in which the grandson of Joseph Stalin berates those who criticise his grandfather. Stalin is, according to his grandson a much maligned figure. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. On reflection I think laughter is the only sensible response to such a risible view of history. Stalin ranks alongside Adolf Hitler as one of the 20th century’s mass murderers and no attempt to whitewash his reputation is going to fool anyone with an ounce of objectivity. For the article please visit, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2923188/Stalin-no-bloodthirsty-cannibal-Putin-lacks-brains-Grandson-Soviet-tyrant-defends-tyrant-s-reputation-rambling-rant.html

Father Frost

In the depths of winter, I thought I would share with you one of my favourite Russian folk tales, “Father Frost”. As the story is in the public domain (I.E. there are no copyright issues) it is reproduced in full below:

 

Father Frost

 

In a far-away country, somewhere in Russia, there lived a stepmother who had a stepdaughter and also a daughter of her own. Her own daughter was dear to

her, and always whatever she did the mother was the first to praise her, to pet her; but there was but little praise for the stepdaughter; although good

and kind, she had no other reward than reproach. What on earth could have been done? The wind blows, but stops blowing at times; the wicked woman never

knows how to stop her wickedness. One bright cold day the stepmother said to her husband:

 

“Now, old man, I want thee to take thy daughter away from my eyes, away from my ears. Thou shalt not take her to thy people into a warm

izba.

Thou shalt take her into the wide, wide fields to the crackling frost.”

 

The old father grew sad, began even to weep, but nevertheless helped the young girl into the sleigh. He wished to cover her with a sheepskin in order to

protect her from the cold; however, he did not do it. He was afraid; his wife was watching them out of the window. And so he went with his lovely daughter

into the wide, wide fields; drove her nearly to the woods, left her there alone, and speedily drove away—he was a good man and did not care to see his

daughter’s death.

 

Alone, quite alone, remained the sweet girl. Broken-hearted and terror-stricken she repeated fervently all the prayers she knew.

 

Father Frost, the almighty sovereign at that place, clad in furs, with a long, long, white beard and a shining crown on his white head, approached nearer

and nearer, looked at this beautiful guest of his and asked:

 

“Dost thou know me?—me, the red-nosed Frost?”

 

“Be welcome, Father Frost,” answered gently the young girl. “I hope our heavenly Lord sent thee for my sinful soul.”

 

“Art thou comfortable, sweet child?” again asked the Frost. He was exceedingly pleased with her looks and mild manners.

 

“Indeed I am,” answered the girl, almost out of breath from cold.

 

And the Frost, cheerful and bright, kept crackling in the branches until the air became icy, but the good-natured girl kept repeating:

 

“I am very comfortable, dear Father Frost.”

 

But the Frost, however, knew all about the weakness of human beings; he knew very well that few of them are really good and kind; but he knew no one of

them even could struggle too long against the power of Frost, the king of winter. The kindness of the gentle girl charmed old Frost so much that he made

the decision to treat her differently from others, and gave her a large heavy trunk filled with many beautiful, beautiful things. He gave her a rich

“schouba”

lined with precious furs; he gave her silk quilts—light like feathers and warm as a mother’s lap. What a rich girl she became and how many magnificent

garments she received! And besides all, old Frost gave her a blue

“sarafan”

ornamented with silver and pearls.

 

“Old Frost gave the gentle girl many beautiful, beautiful things”

 

“Old Frost gave the gentle girl many beautiful, beautiful things”

 

When the young girl put it on she became such a beautiful maiden that even the sun smiled at her.

 

The stepmother was in the kitchen busy baking pancakes for the meal which it is the custom to give to the priests and friends after the usual service for

the dead.

 

“Now, old man,” said the wife to the husband, “go down to the wide fields and bring the body of thy daughter; we will bury her.”

 

The old man went off. And the little dog in the corner wagged his tail and said:

 

“Bow-wow! bow-wow! the old man’s daughter is on her way home, beautiful and happy as never before, and the old woman’s daughter is wicked as ever before.”

 

“Keep still, stupid beast!” shouted the stepmother, and struck the little dog.

 

“Here, take this pancake, eat it and say, ‘The old woman’s daughter will be married soon and the old man’s daughter shall be buried soon.'”

 

The dog ate the pancake and began anew:

 

“Bow-wow! bow-wow! the old man’s daughter is coming home wealthy and happy as never before, and the old woman’s daughter is somewhere around as homely and

wicked as ever before.”

 

The old woman was furious at the dog, but in spite of pancakes and whipping, the dog repeated the same words over and over again.

 

Somebody opened the gate, voices were heard laughing and talking outside. The old woman looked out and sat down in amazement. The stepdaughter was there

like a princess, bright and happy in the most beautiful garments, and behind her the old father had hardly strength enough to carry the heavy, heavy trunk

with the rich outfit.

 

“Old man!” called the stepmother, impatiently; “hitch our best horses to our best sleigh, and drive my daughter to the very same place in the wide, wide

fields.”

 

The old man obeyed as usual and took his stepdaughter to the same place and left her alone.

 

Old Frost was there; he looked at his new guest.

 

“Art thou comfortable, fair maiden?” asked the red-nosed sovereign.

 

“Let me alone,” harshly answered the girl; “canst thou not see that my feet and my hands are about stiff from the cold?”

 

The Frost kept crackling and asking questions for quite a while, but obtaining no polite answer became angry and froze the girl to death.

 

“Old man, go for my daughter; take the best horses; be careful; do not upset the sleigh; do not lose the trunk.”

 

And the little dog in the corner said:

 

“Bow-wow! bow-wow! the old man’s daughter will marry soon; the old woman’s daughter shall be buried soon.”

 

“Do not lie. Here is a cake; eat it and say, ‘The old woman’s daughter is clad in silver and gold.'”

 

The gate opened, the old woman ran out and kissed the stiff frozen lips of her daughter. She wept and wept, but there was no help, and she understood at

last that through her own wickedness and envy her child had perished.

 

The End

 

(For the original public domain work please visit, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12851/12851-h/12851-h.htm#FATHER%20FROST).

 

THE END 

My Encounter

As someone who is registered blind I am ultra independent. I live alone and navigate the streets with the assistance of my trusty guide dog, Trigger. There are, however instances where I require help and yesterday evening was one such.

On my way home from work, about 5 minutes from the flat, Trigger stopped dead in his tracks. It being dark the limited vision I do possess was rendered next to useless. I stood stock still waiting for the sound of approaching footsteps. Fortunately I didn’t have long to wait. A man approached and in broken English indicated that I should take his arm. In fact he tried to take mine but it being far easier (and the approved procedure) for guides to allow visually impaired people to hold their arm I gently disengage my hand and, taking his arm allowed my companion to guide me round the obstacle.

During our brief encounter I asked my new found friend what was causing the obstruction. He responded

“Sorry I am from Russia, I don’t speak English”. I smiled, shook his hand, thanked him and continued on my way home.

The whole incident reminded me powerfully of our common humanity. One man, (not my fellow countryman) saw another soul in need of help and rather than continuing on his merry way he stopped and offered assistance. The fact that he was Russian, that we couldn’t understand one another barely figured in our interaction. It was an act of spontaneous kindness for which I feel extremely grateful. People are just that, people. Nationality and ethnic origin don’t matter, it is the person within, (the soul for want of a better word) which counts and this individual possessed a good soul.