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Three international conferences in Russia celebrating the 175th anniversary
of Tolstoy's birth
28 August -- 5 September 2003

Poempage 1

.Two poems on the Yasnaya Polyana Dom otdykha (1998 and 2003)
(with English translation)

Golovolomka [Jig-saw puzzle] (1998)
Uzhe ne golovolomka
[No longer a jig-saw puzzle] (2003)

.(page updated 21 September 2003)

These two poems were both written about
the Yasnaya Polyana dom otdykha (hotel),
five years apart.

Click here to return to the conference report.

Click here to go to Poempage 2:
"At Spasskoe-Lutovinovo"

Click here for two poems written at
Yasnaya Polyana's Great Pond

Click here to see poems published
in the Doukhobor journal Iskra

Note: The Russian words on these pages appear in photo-images and not electronic text.


Russian original
(English translation follows)

English translation
Jig-saw puzzle

John Woodsworth

[Original in Russian, written at the Yasnya Polyana Dom otdykha in 1998]

From his pedestal Lenin still stands there a-smiling
Before the "dom otdykha" at Yasnaya Polyana.
A fine old example of classical styling
Graces the centre of this strange panorama.

From the white Grecian columns against the red walls
The loudspeaker blares in tumultuous chorus
With all the day's news and the adverts for malls,
As the latest pop music resounds through the forest.

Past the columns, inside -- a staircase of grandeur...
I climb it to reach a magnificent hall.
A huge chandelier hangs -- now what could be grander?
One is tempted to ask: when will be the next ball?

Only something is strange to my non-Russian thinking:
Not everything here tends to put me at ease.
It seems here there's long been no dancing or drinking...
I'm stunned by the emptiness -- silence has lease.


The box-like hotel-wing next door in this troika
Looks paltry and plain in its commonplace guise.
Maybe cleaner than back then before perestroika,
But the dinginess still assails these Western eyes.

On one side of a wide, spacious lobby I'm greeted
By a carved wooden mural on an old Russian theme...
On the other -- a lacklustre pattern repeated...
The window's not dirty, but not really clean.

The paint on the walls is uneven and jerky...
My assigned room is one of the 'luxury grands':
There's a TV and fridge, but the lamps are not working...
Not even hot water -- I can't wash my hands.

It all seems a mixture of grandeur and triteness,
Great classical Rome and a ghetto, combined,
Reflecting all ages of darkness and brightness...
A real jig-saw puzzle for my ignorant mind!

Yasnaya Polyana (near Tula)
30 September 1998

Translated from the Russian by John Woodsworth
14 November 2003


Russian original
(English translation follows)

English translation
No longer a jig-saw puzzle

John Woodsworth

[Original in Russian, written at the Yasnya Polyana Dom otdykha in 2003]

From his pedestal Lenin no longer stands greeting
The scholars who come from afar for Tolstoy...
And Russian professors to Yasnaya retreating
Now find Western comforts of ease to enjoy.

Yes, Yasnaya's dom otdykha's not the same building
As what I remember from five years ago.
There's no more loud rock-music everywhere trilling,
For which I am grateful -- immeasurably so.

No more do I through dingy corridors wander
Where carpets and walls reek with odour and grime...
What 'luxury' means is a question no longer...
And brightness and cleanliness everywhere shine.

On the fourth floor's salon an occasion auspicious:
The foreign guests treated to a party so fine.
They dine on desserts that are truly delicious,
And drink cups of tea, also vodka and wine.

The place is no longer a puzzle bewild'ring,
But a shining example of Russia's new role.
All the comforts of home are now found in this building
With all the best feelings of the great Russian soul.

Yasnaya Polyana, Dom otdykha
31 August 2003

Translated from the Russian by John Woodsworth
14 November 2003


Click here to go to Poempage 2 (Spasskoe-Lutovinovo)

Click here to return to conference reports (English)


Special note:  The Cyrillic fonts used to display the Russian text on these pages were designed by JW in the late 1980s, using the font editor "FonTastic" on an old 512K Macintosh computer.




"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you... 
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

-- John 14:27


E-mail : <jw[at ]kanadacha.ca>
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