A plea to motherland

Category: Poetry
Forgive me, Motherland, whose name
Was on my lips in bitter strife,
Forgive me - to your sacred glory
I failed to sacrifice my life.
I didn't betray you for a moment
To save my life, a speck of dust.
The Volkhov Front knows - I to my oath
Was faithful to the very last!
I feared not when I heard the blast
Of bombs and bullets' buzzing sound.
I faltered not when blood and corpses
Was all there was to see around.
Although on every side the road
Was cut, although my chest was burnt
With my hot blood, I shed no tear -
My limbs were weak, my soul was strong.
The shade of Death, raw - boned and morbid,
Game close to me, and then I thought:
"Oh, take me, Death! To end in bondage,
A wretched slave, my life refuses!"
Yes, it was I wrote to my darling:
"Be not afraid, clear is my aim:
I may be dead, I may be wounded,
But never will my oath be stained!"
Yes, it was I wrote fiery verses
In bloody combat: "I have sworn
That when I see my Death approach
In His face I shall smile with scorn!"
I wrote: "Your love, my darling, will help
Me face the pain of death
And, spelled in blood, my dying words
Shall witness to my faith!"
I wrote: "I'll give my life in combat
And then lie peacefully asleep."
Believe me, Motherland - to a burning
Heart this the oath to keep.
But Fate was cruel, Fate was mocking...
And Death, you've not borne me away.
What could I do - at a fateful moment,
Quite suddenly, my pistol failed.
A scorpion is firmly biting
Himself when he's besieged by fire,
An eagle proudly rushes down
The cliff - and such was my desire.
Believe me: yes, I was an eagle
And, to avoid the hostile nets,
I wished to spread my wings, go rushing
Down from the cliff to meet my death...
I wished... but could I?... My companion,
My pistol, would not say a word,
The enemy took hold of me
And tied my hands until it hurt.
Now I'm in bondage... Every morning
I look to the East, where new days start,
The flame of vengeance bursts in poems
From a captive eagle's wounded heart...
The East is like a friendly banner,
It paints in red the skies at dawn...
I wish, I wish you knew, my dear,
It's not with pain, with grief, with fear
With wrath my captive heart does burn!
There is one hope - a night in August
Will help me flee the dungeon deep.
My sacred wrath, love for my country
Must help me break from slavery!
There is one hope - that soon, dear comrades,
Of your ranks I'll form part again,
With mutilated, but unbending,
Unstained, inviolable heart!
July 1942