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Babi Yar

Written by: Yevgeny Yevtushenko | Biography
 | Quotes (4) |
 No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A drop sheer as a crude gravestone. 
I am afraid.
 Today I am as old in years 
as all the Jewish people. 
Now I seem to be
 a Jew. 
Here I plod through ancient Egypt. 
Here I perish crucified, on the cross, 
and to this day I bear the scars of nails. 
I seem to be
 Dreyfus. 
The Philistine 
 is both informer and judge. 
I am behind bars.
 Beset on every side. 
Hounded, 
 spat on,
 slandered.
Squealing, dainty ladies in flounced Brussels lace
stick their parasols into my face.
I seem to be then
 a young boy in Byelostok. 
Blood runs, spilling over the floors. 
The barroom rabble-rousers 
give off a stench of vodka and onion. 
A boot kicks me aside, helpless. 
In vain I plead with these pogrom bullies. 
While they jeer and shout,
 "Beat the Yids. Save Russia!" 
some grain-marketeer beats up my mother. 
0 my Russian people!
 I know 
 you 
are international to the core. 
But those with unclean hands 
have often made a jingle of your purest name. 
I know the goodness of my land. 
How vile these anti-Semites-
 without a qualm 
they pompously called themselves 
the Union of the Russian People! 
I seem to be
 Anne Frank 
transparent 
 as a branch in April. 
And I love.
 And have no need of phrases. 
My need 
 is that we gaze into each other. 
How little we can see
 or smell! 
We are denied the leaves, 
 we are denied the sky. 
Yet we can do so much --
 tenderly 
embrace each other in a darkened room. 
They're coming here?
 Be not afraid. Those are the booming 
sounds of spring:
 spring is coming here. 
Come then to me.
 Quick, give me your lips.
Are they smashing down the door?
 No, it's the ice breaking ... 
The wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar. 
The trees look ominous, 
 like judges. 
Here all things scream silently, 
 and, baring my head, 
slowly I feel myself 
 turning gray. 
And I myself 
 am one massive, soundless scream 
above the thousand thousand buried here. 
I am 
 each old man 
 here shot dead. 
I am 
 every child
 here shot dead.
Nothing in me
 shall ever forget! 
The "Internationale," let it 
 thunder 
when the last anti-Semite on earth 
is buried forever. 
In my blood there is no Jewish blood. 
In their callous rage, all anti-Semites 
must hate me now as a Jew. 
For that reason
 I am a true Russian!



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