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