This was written in 1993, during the Russian constitutional crisis. It is hardly fanciful to find echoes in Russia’s situation today. It would be interesting to know how Yevtushenko himself feels…
Yevtushenko collaborated with James Ragan on this translation. Perplexingly, all the Russian versions I’ve found make no mention of the “cut finger in snow” of Ragan’s third line, so I omitted it – with some regret. Ragan avoids direct mention of Manilov and Pugach, who appear in the original and in my translation. Manilov is a character in Gogol’s Dead Souls who spends all day in his dressing gown; I haven’t discovered who Pugach was, but Ragan’s translation suggests he is associated with prison camps.
I took the liberty of deciding that there was an oblique reference to Pushkin’s Bronze Horseman in “Медный бунт” – but Ragan’s insider translation suggests that there may not be.
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