Prussian Nights (Solzhenitsyn)

This isn’t exactly autobiography, nor is it pure poetry.  Russian linguists will have to judge the translation quality.  It’s readable, thus making it superior to 100% of modern poetry.  On the surface level it is Solzhenitsyn’s account of the Red Army’s invasion into eastern Germany.  It’s not pretty, but Solzhenitsyn never gets graphic. He leaves the details to your imagination.

The first thing that strikes the reader is the theme of burning.  This is literally quite true, as the Red Army is torching German villages.  The movement of the meter, however, also suggests the chaotic nature of burning.

On a deeper level, Solzhenitsyn sees the Red Army’s invasion as undoing the inept Russian invasion of 1914 (Solzhenitsyn 19).  The year 1914 is key for Solzhenitsyn’s works.

“Evil and good, fears and delights
The silver of Prussian noons
The crimson of Prussian nights” (67).

The poem can be read in one or two sittings.  It isn’t pretty, but neither is it graphic. It also alludes to the time and place where Solzhenitsyn was arrested (think Bernie’s Amerika).


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