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The Russian God

P.A. Vyazemsky, translated by Alan Myers

Do you need an explanation
what the Russian god can be?
Here’s a rough approximation
as the thing appears to me.

God of snowstorms, god of potholes,
every wretched road you’ve trod,
coach-inns, cockroach haunts and rat holes,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of frostbite, god of famine,
beggars, cripples by the yard,
farms with no crops to examine,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of breasts and…all sagging,
swollen legs in bast shoes shod,
curds gone curdled, faces dragging,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of brandy, pickle vendors,
those who pawn what serfs they’ve got,
of old women of both genders,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of medals and of millions,
god of yard-sweepers unshod,
lords in sleighs with two postillions,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

Fools win grace, wise men be wary,
there he never spares the rod,
god of everything contrary,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of all that gets shipped in here,
unbecoming, senseless, odd,
god of mustard on your dinner,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

God of foreigners, whenever
they set foot on Russian sod,
god of Germans, now and ever,
that’s him, that’s your Russian god.

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