Yuri Galanskov: The Human Manifesto

The Human Manifesto

By Yuri Galanskov (1961)

Ever more often in the quiet of the night
I suddenly burst into sobs.
For it’s already impossible
to give away even a granule of spiritual riches.
Nobody needs it:
in quest of the Idiot,
what wear and tear during the day!
And people, having finished their day’s work,
go where they find money and whores.
And let them.
Through the avalanche of people
I shall pass, unlike them, alone –
glittering like a lump of ruby
among icebergs.
I wish to shine.
Allow me in the night
to sprinkle the diamonds of my soul
on the velvet of a black dress.

Ministers, leaders and newspapers – do not believe them!
Arise, you who are lying face down!
You see the little balls of atomic death
the world has in the graves of its sockets.
O, the scarlet blood of rebellion!
Go forth and finish breaking up
the rotten prison of the state!
March over the corpses of the timid to haul for the benefit of the famished
black bombs, like plums,
on the plates of the public squares.

Where are they –
those needed
to throttle the guns;
to excise the sores of war
with the sacred knife of insurrection?
Where are they?
Where are they?
Where are they?
Or are they nowhere at all?
There – a handful of coins chains
Their shadows to the benches.

Man has disappeared.
Insignificant as a fly
he hardly stirs among the lines in books.
I shall go out into the public square
and into the city’s ear
I’ll thrust my shout of despair...
And then, getting hold of a gun,
I shall press it firmly against my temple…
I shall not allow anybody to trample on
a shred of the snow-white soul.
Leave me alone, I don’t need it...
Stop trying to console me.
In the midst of your hell
I have nothing to breathe anyway!
Welcome baseness and famine!
And I, thrown to the ground,
spit on your city of iron
stuffed full of money and filth.

I don’t know what I’m doing...
O that I had a chastising knife.
You see how somebody has splashed
black lies upon white.
You see
The dark of evening
chewing a blood-bespattered flag...
And life is as terrible as a prison,
erected upon a pile of bones.
I fall!
I fall!
I fall!
I leave you to grow bald.
I shall not feed on offal
as all do.
For the use of my guts I shall not
cut down fruit on graves.
I have no need of your bread,
kneaded from tears.
I fall and soar
in semi-delirium,
in semi-sleep...
I feel humanity
in me.

You’re accustomed to see,
as you stroll
along the streets in a leisurely hour,
face as distorted
as your own.
And suddenly –
like thunder pealing,
like Christ manifesting Himself to the world –
there ascended
a trampled and crucified
human beauty.
It is – I,
summoning you to truth and revolt,
desiring to serve no longer,
who tear your black fetters,
all woven of falsehood.
It is – I,
bound by the bonds of law,
who shout forth the human manifesto!
And may a raven peck out
a cross
on the marble of my body.

(Translated from Russian by George Reavey in "The New Russian Poets 1953 - 1968")

I have searched and never found the full text of this poem in English anywhere on the web, so here it is. Galanskov was a victim of Soviet politics and died very young. I have found little of his poetry, but this manifesto hits me every time I read it.