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No, I'll not take the half... -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Guest poem submitted by S. Ramnarayan:
(Poem #850) No, I'll not take the half...
 No, I'll not take the half,
 Give me the whole sky! The far-flung earth!
 Seas and rivers and mountain avalanches--
 All these are mine! I'll accept no less!

 No, life, you cannot woo me with a part.
 Let it be all or nothing! I can shoulder that!
 I don't want happiness by halves,
 Nor is half of sorrow what I want.

 Yet there's a pillow I would share,
 Where gently pressed against a cheek,
 Like a helpless star, a falling star,
 A ring glimmers on a finger of your hand.
-- Yevgeny Yevtushenko
1963.
Translated by George Reavey.

I don't really read much poetry outside of what I receive through this
egroup and yet somehow I kept stumbling upon poetry by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
and they almost consistently appealed to me. What I like about this
particular poem is the contrast between the first two stanzas and the last
stanza. The first two stanzas are fiery and passionate and sound so sure
while the last paragraph suddenly switches to reveal vulnerability.

[Biographical information]

Best known poet of the post-Stalin generation of Russian poets,
Yevtushenko's early poems show the influence of Mayakovsky and loyalty to
communism, but with such works as The Third Snow (1955) Yevtushenko become a
spokesman for the young post-Stalin generation and travelled abroad widely
throughout the Khrushchev and the Brezhnev periods.

Yevtushenko was born in Zima in Irkutsk (July 18, 1933) as a
fourth-generation descendant of Ukrainians exiled to Siberia. He moved to
Moscow in 1944, where he studied at the Gorky Institute of Literature from
1951 to 1954. In 1948 he accompanied his father on geological expeditions to
Kazakhstan and to Altai in 1950. His first important narrative poem Zima
Junction was published in 1956 but gained international fame in 1961 with
Babi Yar, in which he denounced Nazi and Russian anti-Semitism. The poem was
not published in Russia until 1984, althoug it was frequently recited in
both Russia and abroad.

The Heirs of Stalin (1961), published presumably with Party approval in
Pravda, was not republished until 1987. The poem contained warnings that
Stalinism had long outlived its creator.

Yevtushenko's demands for greater artistic freedom and his attacks on
Stalinism and bureaucracy in the late 1950s and 60s made him a leader of
Soviet youth. However, he was allowed to travel widely in the West until
1963. He published then A Precocious Autobiography in English, and his
privileges and favors were withdrawn, but restored two years later.

In 1972 Yevtushenko gained huge success with his play Under the Skin of the
Statue of Liberty. Since the 1970s he has been active in many field of
culture, writing novels, engaging in acting, film directing, and
photography. He has also remained politically outspoken and in 1974
supported Solzhenitsyn when the Nobel Prize Winner was arrested and exiled.
In 1989 Yevtushenko became member of the Congress of People's Deputies.
Since 1990 he has been vice president of Russian PEN. He was appointed
honorary member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1987.

After the accession of Gorbachev to power, Yevtushnko introduced to Soviet
readers many poets repressed by Stalin in the journal Ogonek. He raised
public awareness of the pollution of Lake Baikal and when communism
collapsed he was instrumental in getting a monument to the victims of
Stalinist repression placed opposite Lubianka, headquarters of the KGB.

        -- http://boppin.com/poets/yevtushenko.htm

28 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

> No, I'll not take the half,
> Give me the whole sky! The far-flung earth!
> Seas and rivers and mountain avalanches--
> All these are mine! I'll accept no less!

This is brilliant. First thing that I thought of is Envirez Vouz by
Baudelaire (posted earlier this year on Minstrels)

Thanks, Seema - this was one of the better poems I've read.

-suresh

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