Sunday Poetry – Aleksei Konstantinovich Tolstoy

Tolstoy was another of the diplomat poets of the 19th century. He was encouraged to write by his mother & uncle (who was a writer) but he also pursued a career in the Foreign Ministry. He seems to have enjoyed the holidays more than the actual work & devoted his time to literature when he retired from the service at the age of 44 in 1861. He wrote plays as well as poetry & some of his work was later seen as prophetic as he warned against the autocratic ways of the Tsars.

The Lord, when arming me for living,
Placed love and anger in my breast,
And raised his strong right hand in giving
Instruction on which path was best;
Breather mighty words of inspiration,
Imbued my heart with fervent strength;
But temper harsh on his creation
The Lord did not bestow at length.
My wrath I spent on causes needless.
My love knew neither let nor stay,
And blow on blow I suffered, heedless;
In parrying, I faint away.
To face their blizzard’s hostile clamor
I ventured out bereft of armor
And perish, wounded in the fray.

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