Vladimir Vysotsky. The Hill.

Commentary to the poem “They stirred up the preadamite evil...”

Here is stanza 1:

They stirred up in its den the preadamite evil,
For to force it to take a new trip to the East.
And the bear got up, and advanced along its
Well-trodden road — a savage and pitiless beast.

Today, after the victory in Ukraine of the so-called revolution of dignity, the Ukrainian nationalists follow the way of their predecessors.

Here comes to mind Alexander Pushkin’s poem “To the Defamers of Rossia” (this text is adapted from Vyacheslav Chetin’s translation):

What’s that you’re trumpeting about, calumniators?
How dare you put forth your intense denunciations?
What has enraged you? Lithuanian unease?
Forget it: this is Slavic beef among their kindred,
Domestic ancient squabble, fate has long since figured,
A puzzle that you haven’t whatever chance to read.

These here contiguous tribes already
Have long been feuding up to now;
Each party, be it ours or theirs,
Bent under gathering storm clouds.
Who’ll stand the ground when odds are heavy:
Conceited Lech, or faithful Ross?

The question is if Slavic floods will ever
Blend in the Russian sea or it’ll run low.

Leave us alone: you’re unacquainted
With suchlike bloody sacred tablets;
This family, domestic feud
Is alien, recondite to you;
For all you care, Prague or Kremlin;
Instead, you’re foolishly entranced
By daring courage of a melee —
And, frankly, you are hating us...

Why? On the grounds that, on the ashes
Of blazing Moscow, we refused
To buy the power of the brash, who
You trembled underneath, subdued?
Respond: because we sent the idol,

Who’d been predominating kingdoms, to abyss,

Thus having paid with our lifeblood
For Europe’s freedom, state and peace?..

To hear you talk, you’re tough; then test yourselves in action!
As if an aged hero, calm in relaxation,
Can’t fix his Ismailian bayonet to a gun;
As if the word of Russian Tsar is but a trinket

Or brawls with Europe any different
Or Russians out of form to overcome.

As if we’re few; as if from Taurida to Perm reels,
From ardent Caucasus to Finnish chilly skerries,

From Kremlin, shaken to the core,
Up to the walls of quiescent China
The Russian soil will never rise up
And scintillate with her steel thorns.
Then send your bellicose descendants,
Defamers, over to our place!
There’s room enough, in Russian grasslands,
Among not alien to them graves.

The poem was written in 1966, modified in 1976.

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