The Volokh Conspiracy

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Poetry Tuesday!: "Ах, что-то мне не верится, что я, брат, воевал…" ("Somehow I can't believe, brother, I really went to war…") by Bulat Okudzhava

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union: "Ах, что-то мне не верится, что я, брат, воевал. А может, это школьник меня нарисовал..."


To commemorate the 80th anniversary, today, of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, here's "Ах, что-то мне не верится, что я, брат, воевал…" by Bulat Okudzhava (1924-1997). (This is on my YouTube channel, which mostly consists of my Sasha Reads playlist, plus a smattering of law-related songs.)

Ах, что-то мне не верится, что я, брат, воевал.
А может, это школьник меня нарисовал:
Я ручками размахиваю, я ножками сучу,
И уцелеть рассчитываю, и победить хочу.

Ах, что-то мне не верится, что я, брат, убивал.
А может, просто вечером в кино я побывал?
И не хватал оружия, чужую жизнь круша,
И руки мои чистые, и праведна душа.

Ах, что-то мне не верится, что я не пал в бою.
А может быть, подстреленный, давно живу в раю,
И кущи там, и рощи там, и кудри по плечам…
А эта жизнь прекрасная лишь снится по ночам.

(Here's a reading of the poem by Okudzhava himself, and here's a contemporary reading by Andrei Oparin. Okudzhava himself sometimes performed it with music, but I prefer the version without music, which I heard him do in L.A. in the '90s.)

For the rest of my "Sasha Reads" playlist, click here. Past poems are:

  1. "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  2. "The Pulley" by George Herbert
  3. "Harmonie du soir" ("Evening Harmony") by Charles Baudelaire (French)
  4. "Dirge Without Music" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
  5. "Clancy of the Overflow" by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson
  6. "Лотова жена" ("Lotova zhena", "Lot's wife") by Anna Akhmatova (Russian)
  7. "The Jumblies" by Edward Lear
  8. "The Conqueror Worm" by Edgar Allan Poe
  9. "Les Djinns" ("The Jinns") by Victor Hugo (French)
  10. "I Have a Rendezvous with Death" by Alan Seeger
  11. "When I Was One-and-Twenty" by A.E. Housman
  12. "Узник" ("Uznik", "The Prisoner" or "The Captive") by Aleksandr Pushkin (Russian)
  13. "God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  14. "The Song of Wandering Aengus" by William Butler Yeats
  15. "Je crains pas ça tellment" ("I'm not that scard about") by Raymond Queneau (French)
  16. "The Naming of Cats" by T.S. Eliot
  17. "The reticent volcano keeps…" by Emily Dickinson
  18. "Она" ("Ona", "She") by Zinaida Gippius (Russian)
  19. "Would I Be Shrived?" by John D. Swain
  20. "Evolution" by Langdon Smith
  21. "Chanson d'automne" ("Autumn Song") by Oscar Milosz (French)
  22. "love is more thicker than forget" by e.e. cummings
  23. "My Three Loves" by Henry S. Leigh
  24. "Я мечтою ловил уходящие тени" ("Ia mechtoiu lovil ukhodiashchie teni", "With my dreams I caught the departing shadows") by Konstantin Balmont (Russian)
  25. "Dane-geld" by Rudyard Kipling
  26. "Rules and Regulations" by Lewis Carroll
  27. "Vers dorés" ("Golden Lines") by Gérard de Nerval (French)
  28. "So That's Who I Remind Me Of" by Ogden Nash
  29. "The Epic" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  30. "La chambre double" ("The Double Room") by Charles Baudelaire (French)
  31. "Медный всадник" ("The Bronze Horseman") by Aleksandr Pushkin (Russian)
  32. "Herbst" ("Autumn") by Rainer Maria Rilke (German)
  33. "Romance de la luna, luna" ("Ballad of the Moon Moon") by Federico García Lorca (Spanish)
  34. "The Four Friends" by A.A. Milne
  35. "anyone lived in a pretty how town" by e.e. cummings
  36. "Листья" ("Leaves") by Fyodor Tyutchev (Russian)
  37. "The Pobble Who Has No Toes" by Edward Lear
  38. "The Persian Version" by Robert Graves
  39. "Les deux voix" ("The Two Voices") by Victor Hugo (French)
  40. "Lines Written in Dejection" by William Butler Yeats
  41. "Loveliest of Trees" by A.E. Housman