Saturday, November 26, 2005


You're a brave man they tell me.
I'm not.
Courage has never been my quality.
Only I thought it disproportionate
so to degrade myself as others did.
No foundations trembled. My voice
no more than laughed at pompous falsity;
I did no more than write, never denounced,
I left out nothing I had thought about,
defended who deserved it, put a brand
on the untalented, the ersatz writers
(doing what had anyhow to be done).
And now they press to tell me that I'm brave.
How sharply our children will be ashamed
taking at last their vengeance for those horrors
remembering how in so strange a time
common integrity could look like courage.


A poem, by Russian writer Yevtushenko, as translated by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi, S.J. Penguin Books. Baltimore. 1962.


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