publications & papers
Sample original poetry:
Proposal for a new
Russian National Anthem
(in Russian with English
(page updated 24 June 2002)
Novyj gimn Rossijskoj Federatsii
following proposal for a new Russian National Anthem, written 8 November
2000 by JW, was submitted to the Russian Embassy in Canada, which forwarded
it in turn to the contest for anthem proposals taking place at the time
in Russia. The contest was eventually won by acclaimed Russian children's
author and poet Sergej Vladimirovich Mikhalkov (1913-), father of the celebrated
actor Nikita Mikhalkov. For the text
of Mikhalkov's winning entry please click here. In both JW's
and Mikhalkov's versions, the first stanza and the refrain offer present
praise to great Russia, the second takes account of its vast geography,
while the third points to its past and ahead to the future. Similarities
notwithstanding, it should be noted that JW did not see Mikhalkov's proposal
until after the contest closed and the final selection was announced.
proposed wording is published in the current issue (No 6, 2001) of the
journal Kanadskij ezhegodnik [Canadian Yearbook], issued by the
Russian Association for Canadian Studies [Rossijskaja Assotsiatisja dlja
izuchenija Kanady]. The words, like those by Mikhalkov, were designed
to be sung to the much-loved tune of the old Soviet national anthem composed
by Aleksandr Vasil'evich Aleksandrov (1883-1946).
proposed wording was also included in the collection [Sbornik] prepared
for Ljudmila Putina (the Russian president's wife), along with an afterword
[posleslovie] -- -- also reproduced below in both its
original form and an English translation -- outlining the author's motivation
underlying his proposal, his structuring of the anthem, choice of words
etc. (see my Poetry page for 'Sbornik'
contents). The whole 'Sbornik' actually bore the title: Russkaja
dusha v kanadskom tele [A Russian soul in a Canadian body].
Russian texts on this page are shown in image representation only.
they do not have the properties of electronic text.
English translation follows
New Anthem of the Russian Federation
(proposal submitted by John Woodsworth, November 2000)
Prose translation from the Russian by JW
Russia, a nation of noble peoples,
Forming a single and peaceful union,
Holy before God, you are forever free,
You, our Great, powerful Russia!
Be praised, our Great Fatherland,
Our holy native land!
Glorious Motherland, dear Motherland,
Dear Russia, we praise thee!
From St-Petersburg to far-off Chukotka,
From Novaya Zemlya to southern seas,
Expanses of steppes, steep mountain heights --
A great treasure of forests and fields.
You suffered much during years of deprivation,
But the soul of the people has not been lost!
Long live the spirit of all your generations,
Russia, your glory will be for ever!
'Afterword' [Posleslovie] toJW's proposal
for a new Russian national anthem
English translation follows
Afterword to proposed new Russian National Anthem
(prose translation by JW)
Upon hearing that one of the major world states was currently seeking
new words for the melody of its former anthem, I made so bold as to take
on the challenge, despite the fact that as far as the residents of that
great country were concerned, I am obviously a complete stranger.
Nevertheless, I have been told on an number of occasions that within my
'Canadian body' burns a live Russian soul. I hope that some people,
at least, will find in this a justification for my boldness.
Right at the start of the anthem I wanted to give the non-Russian
peoples of the Russian Federation the feeling that they too are included
in this country as equal partners with the Russians; hence the identification:
"a nation of noble peoples".
Realising that the words of the former (Soviet) anthem are even today
dear to many Russian citizens, I have endeavoured to preserve, at least
in the first and the third stanzas, the spirit and the power of these words;
they are, in fact, reflected in the new variant I have worked out -- for
example, in the first line of the refrain: Slavsja, Otechestvo...
[Be praised, (our) Fatherland...]; note also the preservation of the rhyme:
Rus'/sojuz (only in reverse order); in the third verse the word pokolenij
[generations] is also preserved, only here rhyming with lishenij
[deprivation] instead of srazhenij [battles]. At the same
time I decided to play down the evident militarism of the old anthem in
favour of a spirit of peace, along with a sense of the richness of the
Russian landscape and its overwhelming beauty. The description of
nature and the naming of well-known geographical features ("From St-Petersburg
to far-off Chukotka...") are intended to give Russians a sense of close
self-identification with their country.
Finally, I wanted to hint at the divine basis of any noble sentiment,
including the sense of national belonging, or patriotism, but without naming
any official religious body. Hence the word svjataja [holy]
(which, I trust, will not violate the rights of adherents of any religious
or philosophical tendency) in the contexts: "Holy before God, you are forever
free" and "Our holy native land".
Ottawa (Canada), 13 November 2000
note: The Russian fonts used in the photo images on this page
were designed by JW in the late 1980s, using the font editor "FonTastic"
on an old 512K Macintosh computer.