Archive for August, 2008


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 25, 2008 by mikhailych


There are in Leningrad, aside from the sky and the Neva,
Wide, empty squares, overgrown foliage.
And aside from the statues, and bridges, and dreams of a nation,
And aside from glory, which swells like an unhealed wound,
Glory, which roams the prospects at night,
Virtually unseen, of silver and ashes,
There are rigid eyes and that,
Mysterious muteness,
Those bitterly clenched teeth, those rings around the heart,
That they alone may have spared it from death.
And if you granite, learn from those burning eyes:
They are dry, dry when even a stone weeps.


-Ilya Ehrenburg (Translated by me)


My Home

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2008 by mikhailych

My Home

In the home where I lived many years,
From where I left the winter of the blockade,
A light once again appears in the evening windows.
It is pinkish, festive, elegant.

Glancing at the three windows that used to be mine,
I remember: the war happened here.
Oh how we darkened, without a ray of hope…
And everything darkened, everything darkened in this world…

Afterwards the owner did not knock on the door,
As though he had forgotten the way back to his own apartment.
Where is he now, absent-mindedly roaming?
What is the last place that gave him shelter?

No, I do not know who lives there now,
In these rooms where you and I used to live,
Who, in the evenings, knocks on that very door,
Who left the blue wallpaper as it was,
The very same wallpaper that was chosen so long ago…
I recognized it from outside through the window.

The windows’ inviting comfort,
Awaken memories of such bright, forgotten light,
That I believe that kind people live there,
Good, welcoming people.

There are even little children there,
And someone young, who is perpetually in love,
And the postman only brings them happy news,
And only the truest friends come here for noisy holidays.

I want so dearly for someone to be happy,
There, where I suffered immeasurably.
Possess everything that was denied to me,
And all that I gave up for the war…

However, should such a day arrive,
When the tranquil snow and glimmering twilight,
Will light ablaze my blessed memories,
So vividly that I will not resist knocking on the door,
Coming into my home, standing in my threshold,
And asking…well asking, “What time is it?”
Or “Water,” like I did on those roads of war.
If that happens, do not judge me,
Answer me trustingly and compassionately,
After all, I have come here to my home,
And I remember it all and believe in our happiness.


– Olga Berggolts (Translated by me)

Some Truths Continue to Ring True…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 18, 2008 by mikhailych

“The world is a cramped place and people are greedy and envious. As a result, conflicts arise between people because of all sorts of trifles. Someone dislikes something just a little bit and bam! Right in the face!”
– Maksim Gorky
From Tale XIII of Russian Fairy Tales

Time to drink myself some Obolon and horilka…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 16, 2008 by mikhailych


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 12, 2008 by mikhailych

Dima Otvertchenko of

Keep on living the dream Dima!

The Subway Chronicles

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 6, 2008 by mikhailych

Here’s a link to an essay that I wrote that got picked up by The Subway Chronicles

Solzhenitsyn Excerpts

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by mikhailych

So, back in the early days of my grad school career, the heady late summer/early autumn of 2006, I decided to translate Solzhenitsyn’s novella A Twenty-Four Tale. The novella takes place in Prussia during the winter of 1945. Well, I translated a few chapters, realized it wasn’t going as well as I had hoped. At the same time,I discovered the writings of Vasily Grossman, and the rest is history…or at least an MA thesis and book.

I do, however, have those chapters still on my laptop. While I feel that  on the whole, it’s all too rough to be seen, there are a few excerpts I would like to share:

The ground is frozen and rocky, you won’t dig very far.

The coffins were nailed together quickly, well-done, by our carpenter Sortov, a Mari – from pre-prepared planks that had been smoothed out by a plane.

Does the banner get put up? No one ever saw any banners, except at the brigade parade, when it got all decked out. The banner was always stored somewhere in the supply depot, in the third echelon, so as to not take any chances.

Podkliuchnikov was from the fifth battery. Lepetushin was from the sixth. Party group leader Gubaidulin, laughing stock of the whole division, crawled out to say a few words. This morning he was already drunk and slurred all the hallowed phrases – of the holy Motherland, of the lair of the beast, where we have stepped foot – we’ll avenge them.

*** *** *** *** *** ***
There was no sound of distant gunfire coming from anywhere. No aviation, ours or the Germans. Its as if the war had ended.

It was not a cold day, very cloudy. Low light. For the time being all three divisions had shifted themselves from their standard battle positions and pulled up to brigade headquarters.

It gently wound down to dusk. Even though we had already put down roots in Europe, we still followed Moscow time. As a result it became light at about nine in the morning and got dark, you know, around six.

*** *** *** *** *** ***
Boev always slept deeply but woke quickly. In such a wonderful bed, with a fluffy featherbed, he allowed himself to sleep without his tunic.He was now standing on the run putting it on. His uniform was covered in medals. You would be amazed. He had two Red Banners, and order of Alexander Nevsky, an order of the Great Patriotic War, and two red stars (there was also one from Khasan, one from the Finnish war, and there was a third Red Banner, the last one, but when he was wounded it was either lost or someone stole it.)And so, a chest full of metal, he wore them, not changing his socks. He accepted this burden, one of the joys of a soldier.

It had only been a month since Toplev had been transferred from the commander of the reconnaissance division. As according to regulations, the commander of headquarters, saluted ceremoniously, and reported the facts. His face was solemn, his voice was still warm and childlike.There were two casualties from the second division: Podkliuchnikov and Lepetushin.

The major was of a medium height, but his head was elongated and with a neat, short haircut his face looked like a long rectangle, with corners at the temples and jaw. However his eyebrows were not level and his nose was a little tipped to a deep birthmark on his side, as if it were in never ending, constant tension.

With this tension he listened. And said bitterly after a moment, “Hmmm, stupidity…”

Was it was worth it to endure so many artillery barrages, bombardments, to endure so many beachheads and crossings to die because of a bottle in Germany.

Bury them, but where? They chose their own grave.

*** *** *** *** *** ***
But life, duty – flows, demands. Captain Toplev went the headquarters of the brigade: to find out how the casualties would be recorded.

The director of headquarters, a thin, lanky lieutenant-colonel Beresovoi answered straight away, “The commissar already took care of it: ‘He died a brave death in defense of the Motherland.’

*** *** *** *** *** ***
On the little hill they were knocking together grave markers, not yet decorated. And who will look after them? In Poland German military graves had stood since nineteen-fifteen. Ischukov, the director of communications, shook them loose along the Narev; dragged them – avenged. And no one said a word to him: next to him there stood a SMERSH agaent, Larin.