Those who have been following my blog know that I have a book coming out about Angelica Balabanoff by McFarland Publishers in March, The Strange Comrade Balabanoff: The Life of a Communist Rebel. To celebrate the book launch, for the time being I will dedicate my blog to various themes about Angelica and amongst others her favorite pass time (see previous article Angelica’s pass time – Drinking Tea with Jam (varenije)).
It was in the 1920s that Angeica has first started to write poems. She felt that poems helped her express her feelings, cope with her misfortunes and brighten her life.
Gifted for langauges she composed in five languages, translating her own poems in all five of them. Her talent did not pass unnoticed making headlines and caricatures in the New York press at the end of the 1930s.
Angelica was probably not the most talented poet. However her poems served at least two great reasons. Firstly, they made her fell better and helped her to go through years of hardships. Secondly, they were of great help to me as her biographer, providing a better insight into her feelings, life and events which she had often tried to conceal.
In the poem “There is no Sunshine, no Happiness at all in my Bereaved Soul”, written after being expelled from the Soviet Union in 1921, disillusioned with the October Revolution of the 1917, she confessed:
Is burning into thirst of liberty for all;
Is longing for a slice of bread for all;
Is striving for the happiness for all;
Is tortured by the pain for all;
Is crying with tears for all;
Is dying of the frailty and the sadness of the whole.”*
*Balabanoff A. Tears. New York: E. Laub Publishing Co., 1943.There is no Sunshine, no Happiness at all in my Bereaved Soul, St. Tropez, 1928.
And here is one of Angelica’ poems in French, written in a moment of a great dispair on the New Year’s Eve of 1933, which reveals her suisidal thoughts at that time, and that she had never mentioned anywhere else.
“Et je veux lorsque l’heure arrive
Où je dois passer sur l’autre rive
Je sois tranquille et calme
Et ne verse point de larmes,
Et que ce qui me verront mourir
De ma mort n’emporte qu’un souvenir :
*Balabanoff, A. Tears. New York: E. Laub Publishing Co, 1943. Paris, December 31, 1933.
(And I would like when the time comes
For me to trespass to the other side
I remain quiet and calm
And shall not cry,
And those who will see me die
Will keep from my death only one memory:
tr. Maria Lafont)
To know more about Angelica please consult the page About Angelica.
Illustration, IISH Archives, Angelica Balabanoff papers.