Forging Iron Flowers

1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution is now officially on sale in the UK, and the tremendously supportive team at Pushkin Press have posted a little piece in which I discuss the role that the Revolution played in my family’s story. I end by quoting one of the poems from the book — Mikhail Gerasimov’s (1889-1937) “Iron Flowers.” Here it is, with the original below:

I forged my iron flowers
beneath a workshop’s smoky dome—
not amid nature’s tender bowers,
or beauty in full bloom.

They weren’t caressed by Southern sunshine,
or cradled by the moon —
my thunderous bouquet was burnished
in a forge’s fiery storm.

Where motors rumble, rude and awful,
where sirens whistle, metal rings,
I was entranced, I fell in love with
the chime of copper pines.

This workshop dance was tiring,
my palms were hard as rocks —
but a never-tiring fire
blazed in my chest, beneath my smock.

Fed by the dream of Communism,
I stoked the furnace with new power,
intoxicated by its rhythm,
I forged my iron flowers.


Я не в разнеженной природе,
Среди расцветшей красоты, —
Под дымным небом на заводе
Ковал железные цветы.

Их не ласкало солнце юга
И не баюкал лунный свет —
Вагранок огненная вьюга
Звенящий обожгла букет.

Где гул моторов груб и грозен,
Где свист сирен, металла звон,
Я перезвоном медных сосен
Был очарован и влюблен.

Не в беспечальном хороводе —
В мозолях мощная ладонь,
Неугасимый на заводе
Горел под блузою огонь.

Вздувал я горн рабочим гневом
Коммунистической мечты
И, опьянен его напевом,
Ковал железные цветы.

1917

And here is the evocative cover of the volume in which the poem appeared in 1919:

Gerasimov-Iron-Flowers-1919.jpg

3 thoughts on “Forging Iron Flowers

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