Nikolay Klyuev
Lenin has the spirit of an Old Believer...

From the cycle LENIN


Lenin has the spirit of an Old Believer,
Intones his decrees like a priest,
And looks to the Pomorian Responses1
For the source of all our grief.

Now the land belongs to the peasants,
The Church is no longer a state serf.
Now a bright new word chimes forth,
And the people arise here on earth.

Shiny red as a flame or as leather,
That word opens up every soul.
It was long ago that the heel of Ivan2
Forged the coin of his black iron rule.

Boris3, Lord of the Golden Horde4,
Rings proclamations on Ivan the Great5.
But Lenin has raised the blizzard and storm
To the angel ranks of heaven.

It’s pitch dark in Smolny6, as dark as a thicket,
The air smells of pine and blueberries.
There, in a humble log-built grave,
The relics of Old Russia lie buried.

“Where are we going to bury the corpse?”
The band of the brave want to know.
They wind their way round the flask-shaped coast
From Konevets7, raising dust like driven snow.

Ask instead of the clouds or the stars,
Or the dawns that turn the gorse bush red...
Ominous and bleak is that deserted graveyard
Where the robes of the Tsar lie interred.

The raven of fate will watch over them
In the faraway tombs of Hell.
So why must people mourn their loss
To the doom-laden Tartar death knell?

1. A document published in the eighteenth century by the schismatic Old Believers announcing that since the Orthodox Church had lost the true faith, the Old Believers could claim the right to condemn all the church’s practices. “The Church is not walls and roof,” they said, “but faith and life.”

2. Moscow Grand Prince Ivan III (1462-1505), under whom (in 1480) the final liberation from the Mongol conquest was achieved.

3. Tsar Boris Godunov (1598-1605) had Mongol ancestry.

4. The Tatar-Mongol political state that included most of Russia (1240-1480).

5. Ivan the Great is a bell tower in the Kremlin erected by Boris Godunov (1600).

6. The Smolny Institute was the center for meetings of the Soviets and the seat of Bolshevik power in Petrograd during and immediately after the Revolution.

7. Konevets Island is on Lake Ladoga directly north of St. Petersburg.

Translated by Bernard Meares

Николай Клюев
Есть в Ленине керженский дух...

Из цикла «Ленин»

Есть в Ленине керженский дух,
Игуменский окрик в декретах,
Как будто истоки разрух
Он ищет в «Поморских ответах».

Мужицкая ныне земля,
И церковь — не наймит казенный,
Народный испод шевеля,
Несется глагол краснозвонный.

Нам красная молвь по уму:
В ней пламя, цветенье сафьяна, —
То Черной Неволи басму
Попрала стопа Иоанна.

Борис, златоордный мурза,
Трезвонит Иваном Великим,
А Лениным — вихрь и гроза
Причислены к ангельским ликам.

Есть в Смольном потемки трущоб
И привкус хвои с костяникой,
Там нищий колодовый гроб
С останками Руси великой.

«Куда схоронить мертвеца», —
Толкует удалых ватага.
Поземкой пылит с Коневца,
И плещется взморье-баклага.

Спросить бы у тучки, у звезд,
У зорь, что румянят ракиты...
Зловещ и пустынен погост,
Где царские бармы зарыты.

Их ворон-судьба стережет
В глухих преисподних могилах...
О чем же тоскует народ
В напевах татарско-унылых?

Стихотворение Николая Клюева «Есть в Ленине керженский дух...» на английском.
(Nikolay Klyuev in english).