They say no news is good news.

The neuropathy gave up tingling about the middle of last week and all in all I dealt with it better than cycle #1. The very slight feeling of nausea is easy to treat, if and when it occurs. Off lightly.

If I can’t entertain with pain, what can I offer?

I know – Post War Russian Poetry. For one of those reasons that emanate from a piece of music I have been re-reading poems from that period.

The music first:

Biosphere – Kobresia

The voice is that of a Russian telepath, taken from shortwave radio. He is trying to describe an object in another room “it is either metal or … If it’s metal, it is painted… Cold surface. It is either metal (painted), or, maybe, plastic. Colored. There is… Bright. Looks like…“.

Max Richter – maria, the poet (1913)

Despite the title, a poem written by Marina Tsvetaeva. Another poet with deeply unhappy experiences of Stalinism.

Of course the individuality of these poets matters, but there does seem to be a homogeneous experience among them that involves multi-year stints in Gulags, the reprobation of Comrade Stalin, partial re-integration into post-War society and (only sometimes) defection to the West.

I’m going to quote one of them – Nikolai Zabolotsky. He was actually born a peasant, and so deserved the great levelling if anyone did. His early work was in the Absurdist tradition which didn’t go down with the earnest cadres. He was arrested in 1938 on a false charge and spent eight years in a prison camp. He was released after the war but ignored until after Stalin’s death in 1953. Alas for Nikolai, he only lasted another five years before a heart attack took him off.

[Extracts from] I Do Not Look for Harmony in Nature (1947):

I do not look for harmony in nature
I do not discern in the inward parts of rocks
I do not discern in the clear roof of leaves
any proportionable origins.

It is a world of sleep and unreason.
The heart hears no concordant music
in the obstinate chanting of the wind,
the soul senses neither voice nor harmony.

Around me nature’s sad and heavy breathing.
And wild freedom and good mixed with evil
are not in nature at this moment.

Nikolai Zabolotsky (1903-1958)