Their teacher had advised them not to read Tolstoy novels, because they were very long and would easily confuse the clear ideas which they had learned from reading critical studies of him. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn<
My dagger gleams with tracery of gold,
The blade is trusty, flawless;
It's steel is tempered by some craft of old, -
Some eastern secret lawless.
For many years a mountain tribesman's slave,
His every wish fulfilling,
To many an armed breast a fearful wound it gave
And claimed no wage for killing.
Faithful companion of its master's mirth
At insults clinking baneful,
In those far days this rich, enchased sheath
Had irksome seemed and shameful.
Beyond the Terek a bold Cossack took
It from its master's body.
Then in a pedlar's pack it lay forsook
Amongst his treasures shoddy.
Lost now that scabbard, battle-scarred and bent
Which cradled it victorious;
Upon my wall it gleams, a golden ornament,
Alas - now harmless and inglorious!
No one to clean it now, no practised fingers drawn
Caressingly along the edges,
No lips repeat the inscribed prayers each dawn,
The ancient zealous pledges. ...
In our tame age, ah poet, think how you
Have lost significance...
Exchanged for gold that power which hitherto
Your measured words set warriors' hearts afire
As battle trumpets' blare;
Made drunk like wine, and even might aspire
To rise like incense at the hour of prayer.
Your verses, like the Spirit, hovered free
The echo of great thoughts to catch and tell;
At times of triumph or calamity
Your voice would ring forth like the Veche bell.
Yet now your ancient mode, so simple and so proud,
We quit for gayer trappings
And, like an ageing belle, our ageing muse would
Her ugliness in paint and gauzy wrappings.
Ah, poor, mocked prophet ... will you never make,
Nor ever now, to avenge these insults bent,
Pluck from its guilded sheath the dagger's blade
Now rusted by contempt?