Soloukhin wrote this in 1969. It probably reflects his growing frustration as Brezhnev’s Период застоя (Era of Stagnation) was taking hold. Soloukhin had been an enthusiastic supporter of the Soviet regime in the 1950s – to the point that he had supported the campaign against Pasternak – but by the time of this poem his views had changed.
Perhaps impelled by greedy dreaming
The sailor left his family and
His country on a far-flung voyage
Into the endless blue he’d scanned.
The world was unexplored and silent.
The ship departed, disappeared.
There came no telegrams or letters,
And no one knew where that ship steered.
Don’t bother with your SOS-es
When time of trouble comes to you.
For ages barrels will be floating
Upon the churning water’s brew.
Though cry he might to home or heaven –
Wherever, all attempts fall through.
But sailor’s brought some spirit with him
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