Sunday, August 02, 2015

feast day of the rebel nun

Alexander Blok wrote this poem-musing to the young Liza Pilenko after they met:

While you are standing on my path,
Such a lively girl, such a beauty,
But with such tortured thoughts,
You speak of sad things,
Thinking about death,
You do not love anyone
And despise your own beauty -
What is this? Do I offend you?

O, no! For I am no rapist,
No deceiver and no egotist,
Although I know a great deal,
Have thought too much since childhood,
And am too self-absorbed.
For I am a writer,
A person who calls all by its name,
Stealing the aroma of a living flower.

However much you speak of sadness,
And consider our endings and beginnings,
All the same, I dare to think,
That you are only fifteen years old.
And because of this I would like
For you to fall in love with a simple person,
Who loves the heaven and the earth
More than rhymed and un-rhymed speech about heaven and earth.
Truly, I will be glad for you,
For it is only someone who is in love
Who has a right to be called a human being.

Когда вы стоите на моем пути,
Такая живая, такая красивая,
Но такая измученная,
Говорите все о печальном,
Думаете о смерти,
Никого не любите
И презираете свою красоту -
Что же? Разве я обижу вас?

О, нет! Ведь я не насильник,
Не обманщик и не гордец,
Хотя много знаю,
Слишком много думаю с детства
И слишком занят собой.
Ведь я - сочинитель,
Человек, называющий все по имени,
Отнимающий аромат у живого цветка.

Сколько ни говорите о печальном,
Сколько ни размышляйте о концах и началах,
Все же, я смею думать,
Что вам только пятнадцать лет.
И потому я хотел бы,
Чтобы вы влюбились в простого человека,
Который любит землю и небо
Больше, чем рифмованные и нерифмованные речи о земле и о небе.
Право, я буду рад за вас,
Так как - только влюбленный
Имеет право на звание человека.

--А. Блок

She must have made quite an impression on him.

When still a child myself, I came across a biography of Mother Maria of Paris (Liza Pilenko), and read it with avid curiosity.

This source provides an excellent article on Mother Maria, calling her, "The Saint of the Open Door."

While walking along the sometimes extremely dimly-lit path of my life, I have often brought to mind the life-filled image of Mother Maria and breathed more freely. She was a person whom it is difficult to quantify: she appeared in various roles, as an intellectual, a revolutionary, a lover, a wife, a mother, a divorcee, an atheist, a chain-smoking religious nun, a writer, an artist, a human rights activist, and a victim of the Holocaust. She fed the hungry, housed the poor, antagonized some church authorities by her eccentricities, and rescued families from the Nazis by various methods, even hiding children in garbage cans, until she was finally arrested and sent to a camp.

One of the women who spent time in Ravensbruck with her wrote this of her:

“She was never downcast, never. She never complained…. She was full of good cheer, really good cheer. We had roll calls which lasted a great deal of time. We were woken at three in the morning and we had to stand out in the open in the middle of winter until the barracks [population] was counted. She took all this calmly and she would say, ‘Well that’s that. Yet another day completed. And tomorrow it will be the same all over again. But one fine day the time will come for all of this to end.’ … She was on good terms with everyone. Anyone in the block, no matter who it was, knew her on equal terms. She was the kind of person who made no distinction between people [whether they] held extremely progressive political views [or had] religious beliefs radically different than her own. She allowed nothing of secondary importance to impede her contact with people.”

On March 31, 1945, she left this earthly life. Some eye-witnesses said that she took the place of another woman who was being sent to a gas chamber.

July 20 is Mother Maria's feast day, but if one is following the Julian calendar, the dates tend to lag behind a couple of weeks.

A fragment of a piece of embroidery done by Mother Maria while she was in the concentration camp. It is in the style of the Bayeaux Tapestry, and depicts the invasion by the Allies at Normandy.

What is love? I ask Mother Maria.

She points to me, to you, and back to herself, and then winks and disappears.


raw poetry by donna snyder said...

Beauty through and through.

Iulia Flame said...

Mother Maria would have loved you, Donna.

the song of a shell sapphire melting inside jade a color unnamed Ofra Haza's version of this song defies categoriz...

popular on this site