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(28 November 1880 – 7 August 1921 / Saint Petersburg)

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From The Twelve

III

The lads have all gone to the wars
to serve in the Red Guard ~
to serve in the Red Guard ~
and risk their hot heads for the cause.

Hell and damnation,
life is such fun
with a ragged greatcoat
and a Jerry gun!

To smoke the nobs out of their holes
we’ll light a fire through all the world,
a bloody fire through all the world –
Lord, bless our souls!


XII

… On they march with sovereign tread…
‘Who else goes there? Come out! I said
come out!’ It is the wind and the red
flag plunging gaily at their head.

The frozen snow-drift looms in front.
‘Who’s in the drift! Come out! Come here!’
There’s only the homeless mongrel runt
limping wretchedly in the rear…

‘You mangy beast, out of the way
before you taste my bayonet.
Old mongrel world, clear off I say!
I’ll have your hide to sole my boot!

The shivering cur, the mongrel cur
bares his teeth like a hungry wolf,
droops his tail, but does not stir…
‘Hey answer, you there, show yourself.’

‘Who’s that waving the red flag?’
‘Try and see! It’s as dark as the tomb!’
‘Who’s that moving at a jog
trot, keeping to the back-street gloom?’

‘Don’t you worry ~ I’ll catch you yet;
better surrender to me alive!’
‘Come out, comrade, or you’ll regret
it ~ we’ll fire when I’ve counted five!’

Crack ~ crack ~ crack! But only the echo
answers from among the eaves…
The blizzard splits his seams, the snow
laughs wildly up the wirlwind’s sleeve…

Crack ~ crack ~ crack!
Crack ~ crack ~ crack!
… So they march with sovereign tread…
Behind them limps the hungry dog,
and wrapped in wild snow at their head
carrying a blood-red flag ~
soft-footed where the blizzard swirls,
invulnerable where bullets crossed ~
crowned with a crown of snowflake pearls,
a flowery diadem of frost,
ahead of them goes Jesus Christ.

Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010


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