To Kiss a Forehead

By Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941)

To kiss a forehead is to erase worry.

I kiss your forehead.

     To kiss the eyes is to lift sleeplessness.

     I kiss your eyes.

          To kiss the lips is to drink water.

          I kiss your lips.

               To kiss a forehead is to erase memory.

               I kiss your forehead.

Marina suffered greatly during the Soviet period in Russia: she lost her family by the drip feed of civil war, starvation, emigration, a return to Moscow which saw her husband shot for espionage, and her daughter sent to a labour camp by a hyper paranoid Stalinist regime. With the German invasion of 1941 she was evacuated to Central Asia, where once again, she faced the direst poverty and starvation. So, with the whole world of her husband killed, and her daughter taken from her to a living death in a Stalinist Gulag, she took her own life by hanging on August 31, 1941. She is one of Mother Russia`s greatest poets, who had the horrible misfortune to have lived at a time of constant social, political and national warfare which looked upon her extraordinary talents with indifference and contempt. “How many divisions has the pope got?” Stalin once smugly asked: there was no room in the 5 Year Plan for poetic, inner contemplation or emotional, tactile philosophy; the individual was dead, it`s spirit crushed by a collective state system which had no room for anything, or anyone which didn`t contribute towards the onward march of Soviet Socialism. It is a huge testament to the human spirit, that even under the extreme dead weight of the Stalinist police state, a tiny spark of genius survived, before it fluttered and died in the cold draught of totalitarianism. Remember Marina, and the many unsung, vital souls, who struggled for their inner light to be seen amidst so much darkness.  


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