It’s hard to find someone who studies Russia and doesn’t know about russian poet Nikolay Nekrasov. Considered a patriotic advocate of poor oppressed peasantry, he was very favored both in Soviet and modern russian education program (as a graduate of russian public education school, I remember a whole friggin’ year of studying his yokel-praising poems).
Well, Nekrasov really had a soft spot for unwashed russian serfs. Maybe he indeed sincerely believed that one day those goblinoids somehow would turn into enlightened, highly-spirited and free elves. However, even he couldn’t deny the undeniable, especially after comparing Russia with Europe. In one of letters to his friend Mikhail Longinov, Nekrasov wrote a short verse about Russia, existence of which is unknown to most of his fans.
This is a translation from article by Thomas Newlin, published in Russian Review magazine in 1996.
Homeward bound from Konigsberg
I approached at last that land
Where they don’t approve of Guttenberg
And find that shit’s quite grand;
I had a swig of Russian swill,
I heard a “f#ck your Mum,”
And Russian mugs, off at full tilt,
Slouched by me one by one.
Anything changed since those days?
I think such poetry represents Russia in much more convenient way than “Who is Happy in Russia” and “The Railway” taken together. Pity it’s not gonna show up in educational textbooks…
P.S. And here is my humble poetic translation of the same verse, done before I knew about Mr. Newlin’s publication.
So I left the German cities
To approach such a land
Where folks just like shit-eating,
And enlightenment they can’t stand.
I had some russian stinkin’ beverage,
Heard their speech, soiled and profane,
And then ruskie ugly visages
Went hopping round like insane.