Untruth roams from region to region,
sharing her experience with the neighboring Untruth,
but that which is softly sung in half-voice resounds,
but that which is read in a whisper thunders.
—Aleksandr Galich “We’re no worse than Horace”
Aleksandr Galich (1918-1977) was a songwriter, musician, screenwriter, and poet who became an important voice in the dissent against Soviet repression, especially with songs written and recorded as underground magnitizdat.
FOR THE CRY FROM THE WELL OF A “MAMA!”
FOR THE CRUCIFIX TORN FROM THE WALL,
FOR THE LIE OF YOUR “TELEGRAMS”
WHEN THERE’S AN ORDER FOR AN ARREST
I WILL DREAM OF YOU, RUSSIA.
IN THE ACCURSEDNESS OF YOUR VICTORIES,
IN THE ANGUISH OF YOUR IMPOTENCE,
IN THE NAUSEA OF YOUR HANGOVER
WHY WILL FEAR BREAK THROGH?
ALL HAS BEEN MOURNED, ALL HAVE BEEN SUNG TO REST
WHO WILL YOU FLINCH FROM ALL OF A SUDDEN?
THOUGH YOU’LL DENY IT, TAKE REFUGE IN ILLUSION,
PUT ALL THE BLAME ON THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN KILLED
I WILL STILL COME AND STAND BEFORE YOU
AND LOOK INTO YOUR EYES.
—Irina Ratushinskaya, July 5, 1984, Prison of the Mordovian Autonomous Republic
The dissident poet Irina Ratushinskaya (b. Ukraine 1954-d. Moscow 2017) was imprisoned for writing poetry, a forbidden activity regardless of the content of the poems. While in prison, she wrote over 250 poems on themes of social justice, prison life, and the beauties of existence.