Lermontov’s anti-war poem in English


This video is called Natasha Randall on Lermontov.

From Rick Rozoff’s blog in the USA; translation of a famous nineteenth century Russian author. Lermontov was a military officer as well. This poem is from one year before his death. It is about a battle between the czar’s soldiers and Chechens:

Mikhail Lermontov: Still you’re fighting: Why, what for?

August 26, 2012

Mikhail Lermontov

From Valerik (1840)

Translator unknown

The fight was over. All was still.
The bodies made a grisly hill.
Blood trickled from them, steaming, smoking…
“Just tell me, my kunak,

kunak means basically “friend” here

What do they call this little river?”
“They call it Valerik”, he said,
“Which means The River of the Dead.
Those who named it are in Heaven…”
Then someone else’s voice I heard,
“This day is for the war decisive”.
I caught the mountaineer’s glance derisive.
He grinned but did not say a word.
And there I was; my heart so pained with pity.
I thought: “Poor man, what are you after?
The sky’s so blue. The world so endless.
And still you’re fighting: Why, what for?!”

Another translation of that part of the poem:

Heartsick, I pondered the mystery.
I thought: poor people.
What do we want!
The sky is clear,
And under the sky
Is a place for each of us.
But incessantly and needlessly
We fight. Why?

2 thoughts on “Lermontov’s anti-war poem in English

  1. Pingback: War from Syria to the Caucasus? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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