Saturday, 30 August 2014

To the Moon - Stalin

Long before he was leader of the Soviet Union, before he'd even taken the name Stalin, in fact, Soso, as he was then known, was a published poet with a good reputation in his native Georgia. Some of his poems can still be found in Georgian textbooks today, though they are not always attributed to him. Below is a translation of one of his best-known works:

To the Moon

Sail on, as tirelessly as ever,
Above an earth obscured by clouds,
And with your shining glow of silver
Dispel the fog that now abounds.
With languor, bend your lovely neck,
Lean down to earth with tender smile.
Sing lullabies to Mount Kazbek,
Whose glaciers reach for you on high.
But know for certain, he who had
Once been oppressed and cast below,
Can scale the heights of Mount Mtatsminda,
Exalted by undying hope.
Shine on, up in the darkened sky,
Frolic and play with pallid rays,
And, as before, with even light,
Illuminate my fatherland.
I’ll bare my breast to you, extend
My arm in joyous greeting, too.
My spirit trembling, once again
I’ll glimpse before me the bright moon.

The young Stalin's poetry was well-regarded.

As a young man, Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, or Joseph Stalin as we know him, lived in a seminary, adored literature, became a published poet and, having joined the struggle against the Tsarist authorities, went on to become a bank robber. To read more about his fascinating youth, check out Simon Sebag Montefiore's excellent Young Stalin. 

An entertaining and surprising book.

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