Tvardovsky and Finland

A. Tvardovsky

Two Lines
By Aleksandr Tvardovsky

Two lines about the child-soldier,
From a worn note book,
Who, in 1940,
Was killed on the Finnish ice.

He laid there clumsily,
His small body, in a childish manner.
His overcoat frozen to the ice,
His hat blown far away.

It seemed as though the boy was not lying down,
But still quickly running.
It was the ice that held him back.

Why – and I cannot even begin to fathom why,
In the midst of this massive, cruel war,
I feel sorry for that distant fate.
It is as if I am the one,
Who is lying dead and alone,
Small, frozen, and slaughtered,
In that unremarkable war.
Lying small and forgotten.

1943

Translated by me.

Does anyone even remember that there was a war between Russian and Finland in 1939 -1940? I mean, I of course do, I’m named after my great-grandfather who served in it. But does anyone else? It seems like a forgotten episode of history.

2 Responses to “Tvardovsky and Finland”

  1. Ask the Finns. They have a little shrine to the fallen in very town.

  2. Yes, I remember it. Catherine Merridale’s nonfiction “Ivan’s War” discusses it a bit, too, so it’s even received attention in a recent (and fairly widely reviewed) book about World War 2.

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