“People”, by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

On April 1st, the defiant Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko died, at the age of eighty-three.

Interested in knowing more about him, I surfed online and found several excellent pieces. Then, of course, I sought his poetry. Among his vast body of work, I found this one, oft quoted.

It reminded me that each of us is a world–a thought worth cherishing. Now, more than ever.

By a lovely coincidence, it also reminded me of Jakub Prochakzka, the Spaceman of Bohemia.

Our fates are, indeed, like the chronicle of planets, or space dust…

PEOPLE– Yevgeny Yevtushenko

No people are uninteresting.
Their fate is like the chronicle of planets.

Nothing in them in not particular,
and planet is dissimilar from planet.

And if a man lived in obscurity
making his friends in that obscurity

John Hoyland, Another World 14-10-05; Imperial College Healthcare Charity Art Collection

obscurity is not uninteresting.

To each his world is private
and in that world one excellent minute.

And in that world one tragic minute
These are private.

In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight
it goes with him.

There are left books and bridges
and painted canvas and machinery
Whose fate is to survive.

But what has gone is also not nothing:
by the rule of the game something has gone.
Not people die but worlds die in them.

Whom we knew as faulty, the earth’s creatures
Of whom, essentially, what did we know?

Brother of a brother? Friend of friends?
Lover of lover?

We who knew our fathers
in everything, in nothing.

They perish. They cannot be brought back.
The secret worlds are not regenerated.

And every time again and again
I make my lament against destruction.

Books of Russian poetry available at the Library:

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