In May of 2015, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, one of the world’s greatest contemporary poets, paid a visit to Belarus. Though he was born in Northern Russia in Siberia, Yevtushenko’s mother was a native of Belarus, and his remarkable poetry and prose have been translated into 70 languages. Without even knowing who wrote them, many people know his lines by heart. An example includes the following lines:
God grant the blind to have sight
And hunchbacks to be normal men God grant that I’m partly God, but one Cannot be partly cruci ed
Deliver me from being bossy
Or sort of a hero false and glossy God grant me being rich, not false,
If it is possible of course.
God grant me to be an old hand
Not swallowed by some sort of gang Deliver me from being a lord.
A beggar, hangman or that sort.
Deliver me from bloody hands When somebody casts in a bone; God grant me many foreign lands, With preservation of my own.
Deliver you from being kicked
With heavy jackboots by your country.
God grant your wife to be quite thick With you when you’re in quandary
God grant the liars to shut up, When hearing God in exultation And see the living Christ turn up As a male or female presentation.
We bear disbelief but not
The cross. And beg God to forgive us. God grant us to be a bit of God
So we might not be unbelievers.
God grant us all we haven’t got. To all of us, and on the square, God grant us everything but not Something disgraceful and unfair.
During his lifetime, Yevtushenko became an icon. People throughout Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and all of former Soviet Union countries knew his poems, and some of his lines were repeated like prayers.
By the 1970s, Yevtushenko was packing stadiums with 40,000 to 50,000 fans, and even today, he maintains the gravity to draw in thousands of people.
These days, Yevtushenko teaches in the United States at the University of Oklahoma. Additionally, he founded a museum in Peredelkino, a suburb of Moscow, and Filled it with paintings by his favorite artists. The artists themselves donated many of the paintings, and the gallery includes works by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Fernand Leger and David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Recently, Yevtushenko did three performances in Belarus to packed rooms. At the end of his visit, he was able to speak with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. During their meeting, the poet emphasized the peacekeeping role that Belarus holds in the Ukrainian military conflict and deemed the talks in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, a quenching to the res that have overtaken the region. e esteemed poet praised the Belarusian President for his desire to help achieve peace and for his work to make Belarus a prosperous, independent nation.
The President and the poet agreed that literature should bring love and goodness to the world. At the end of their meeting, Yevtushenko wanted to read some of his poetry to the President, but realized that he’d forgotten his glasses. Undeterred, the President suggested that Yevtushenko borrow his glasses. Afterwards, President Lukashenko thanked Yevtushenko for leading a life filled with love for both mankind and God. As a token of their meeting, he offered the poet his glasses, which Yevtushenko gratefully accepted.
By Peter Komar