R.I.P. the great Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko

“Anti-Semitism lingered in the Kremlin after Stalin’s death. In one instance, nervous officials thwarted efforts to raise a monument at Babi Yar, a ravine near Kiev, Ukraine, where thousands of Jews were machine-gunned and buried in a mass grave in 1941 by the invading Germans.

“The reason the Kremlin said it resisted a memorial was that the Germans had shot other people there, too, not only Jews. Mr. Yevtushenko tackled the issue in 1961 in blunt verse that stunned many Russians and earned him acclaim around the world.

“….In a country ruled by Marxist myth, ostensibly free of bigotry, ‘Babi Yar’ touched nerves in the leadership, and it was amended to meet official objections. Even so, it moved audiences. Whenever Mr. Yevtushenko recited the poem at public rallies, it was met with stunned silence and then thunderous ovations. He wrote once that he had received 20,000 letters hailing “Babi Yar.” Dmitri Shostakovich composed his Thirteenth Symphony on lines from that and other Yevtushenko poems.”

Babi Yar

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

 

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.

Read rest of poem 

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Poet Who Stirred a Generation of Soviets, Dies at 83 – Raymond H. Anderson – New York Times – 4/1/17

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