Another poem by Pushkin this week. Many of Pushkin’s friends were Army officers involved in the Decembrist revolt against the accession of Tsar Nicholas I in 1825. I have a special interest in the Decembrists because the revolt featured in the book that started my passion for Russian history, a novel called The Youngest Lady-in-Waiting by Mara Kay. I read it over & over again when I was a teenager. It’s impossible to get hold of now & maybe I wouldn’t want to read it again after all these years. It’s the story of Masha, who is educated at the Smolny Institute & becomes lady-in-waiting to Grand Duchess Alexandra, wife of the Nicholas who will become Tsar. Masha becomes involved with two brothers, Michael, quiet & studious, & Sergei, bold & flashy. Masha falls in love with Sergei but he joins the Decembrists.
This poem, Message to Siberia, was written to Pushkin’s friends in exile in 1827, some of them were exiled for life & never returned to St Petersburg.
In deep Siberian mines retain
A proud and patient resignation;
Your grievous toil is not in vain
Nor yet your thought’s high aspiration.
Grief’s constant sister, hope is nigh,
Shines out in dungeons black and dreary
To cheer the weak, revive the weary;
The hour will come for which you sigh,
When love and friendship reaching through
Will penetrate the bars of anguish,
The convict warrens where you languish,
As my free voice now reaches you.
Each hateful manacle and chain
Will fall; your dungeons break asunder;
Outside waits freedom’s joyous wonder
As comrades give you swords again.