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December 10, 1938 - Image 9

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1938-12-10

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P ERSPECTV ES

Page Nine

HE SANYI.. by Richard Bennett
Written after the signing of the Munich Peace Pact.

T WAS over a hundred versts to
Novgorod, a hundred versts of wind
and cold and dark gray snow. Ser-
gei was in no mood for such a jour-
ney, nor did he relish the prospect of
traveling all night with Levin, a red-
haired muzhik that had come down of
late from the country around the sea.
Though Levin was gay, he was not kind.
Tears, bitter tears fall in a bitter rain.
Since pity is a barred and bolted door,
And paths as pitiless our lives divide.
A hundred versts of wind and cold
A hundred versts of dark gray snow.
But the old man sat all day upon the
oven, and at night he cried for vodka
because he was so afraid of the dark.
Sergei loved the old man and prayed for
him before the ikon every night. But
there was no food and the vodka was
nearly gone.
Sergei looked out across the long ex-
panse of snow unmarked by sanyi-
tracks or foot-prints. If he waited until
morning to commence his journey, it
would mean the loss of a day's work.
One can't work nights in Russia; not
with the scarcity of oil, If, on the other
hand, he left at once he would return by
God's good grace the morning after
next. It always took a good deal of fid-
dling to get anything done in Novgorod,
particularly at this time of the year
when everybody seemed to be there. He
would want to figure on plenty of time.
Levin could take the reins for much of
the way and he could get a little sleep
for work when he returned. Yet Levin
was stubborn; he was gay, but he was
not kind. Levin might wish to sleep, too.
Well, he would fix that. Levin did not
have to work much. He was a dawdler
and well cared for. He would have to
take the reins, at least on the way back.
Sergei could not understand why Levin
wanted to go on such a trip, but he had
little time to debate the reasons, for he
was a working lad with an old man to
feed and a God to glorify. It would be
little to the glory of God that he frit-
tered his time away now.
'It's a cold night,' said Sergei as he
stook down the skins from the oven. 'Put
this one on the seat, Levin, maybe both
of these. We shall need them.'
Two skins for the seat!
Levin was prepared for talk. 'You're
a sooka!' he said violently. 'Look, there's
hardly a draft out there . . And I think
I can see the moon coming out!'
One hundred and eighty thousand
strong stand the Czechs. Their spirit
is upon the sea and aver the land.
Their sons are given over to war and
their mothers to bitter tribulation.
One hundred and eighty thousand
strong they stand, and their line is
gone out through all the earth.
O Lord, revive the work
In the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make
known:
In wrath
Remember mercy.
'I lit a candle for Saint Olaf today;
said Sergei. 'Offer a prayer before the
ikon, Levin, and beg the holy father
that we fare well.'
Levin said nothing, but crossed to
where the ikon hung and bowed his
head.
'Not that way,' cried Sergei sharply,
'look up to it.' And then he went on: 'I
think it best to take all the blankets to-
night. Stay on the oven, little father,
and cover yourself with the old curtain
if it gets too cold. If you will walk
around for a while during the day you
will keep warm. Besides, it will do you
good. Are you ready, Levin?'
'Ready, said Levin, gaily.

The Czechs one hundred and eighty
thousand strong; and India torn by
faction, a tortured people before the
wisdom of a mighty empire. God of
heaven, save thy childree' And
Vienna knows no more her proud
name, for power is of the seed of
Abraham, and wisdom flows from
Rachel's tears!
If there be grief
then let it be but rain,
And this but silver grief
for grieving's sake . . .
The horses were fresh and anxious.
Sergei felt sad as he took the reins. Once
he had gone to St. Petersburg and min-
gled with the people of the court. He
had seen the Czar and his ministers and
marveled at the quick speech and the
carefree laughter and the loud con-
versation of. the wits and intellectuals

'Sergei Sergeievich, we're all right.
Just follow the moon.'
Before the dread journey which needs
must be taken
No man is more mindful than meet is
and right
To ponder, ere hence he departs, what
his spirit
Shall, after the death-day, receive as
its portion
Of good or of evil, by mandate of
doom.
O Lord, revive thy work
In the midst of the years.
In the midst of the years make
known:
In wrath
Remember mercy.

That thou didst ride upon thine
horses
And thy chasriots of salvation?
'Sometime I'm going South to Mos-
cow, Sergei," said Levin, his eyes shin-
ing. 'They say that a man can go places
there. I should like to be an officer in the
army. They say you can rise rapidly if
you get to know the right people.'
'Why do you want to be an officer?'
said Sergei.
'I don't know. I'm sick of this life,
that's all I know.'
In the nation that is not,
Nothing stands that stood before;
There revenges are forgot,
And the hater hates no more . .

'Yesterday Olga
said Levin. 'She w
shawl that I had g

-fi e Jfz &etin ( Ae J34
When Cain, despairing, found no flame that mig
The spirit he had blown from Abel's face
He wept, and ran from sight
Of the strange red grass. But in his flight
He paused to wonder, and returning, found a n
And named it Death. This evening
Death will celebrate his birthday on the grass.
Noise and long stillness will pass
Through these unrooted meadows hand in hand
While rockets trail their golden roots to land.
This evening Cain and Abel both will wait
In ordered files, white and stiff, for fate,
And when it comes in a loud gust
Darkening some candles as it mustr
There will be no relighting to awake
The cooling waxen spirits on earth's cake.

'What can one hope to do in a place
was at the lottery.' like Rashnya?' continued Levin. 'You
ore that bright green get up in the morning, fetch the water,
iven her. She's a very eat, listen to the old man and woman tell
about the famine and the prospect of
a warm spring, you go to the church and
stand through the litany with the old
ones; in the evenings you play with the
breasts of the village whores or guzzle
vodkain front of the fire, later you read
from the gospels, offer a prayer before
ht replace the ikon and so to bed. What kind of a
life is that, Sergei!'
Sergei looked weary. 'What's the mat-
ter with it?' he said. 'You are sure of a
ew-born thing warm fire, a meal or two and the kind-
ness of the old man. And if you are a
half way decent sort you may even be
certain of a clean burial in the earth.
Anna Lennev has just built a fine white
box for her son Leo. Many of the villa-
gers wept with her when Leo died, and
he was not a good sort, as you know.'
A dark patch rose up before them. It
was the Borganya forest.
'We are making fine time, Levin, the
horses are drawing easily and the snow
is light. Take the reins for a while, will
you?'
-DORIS BAILEY He stopped the horses and the two
men got out and ran up and down in
the snow to relieve the stiffness in their
limbs. When they got back in, Levin took
the reins.
What do you think 'I would let them take their own gait
What doer you hink for a while if I were you,' said Sergei.
you ever see her of 'They have been breathing easily, but
we don't want to tire them.'

there. That was a long while ago, it
seemed, and he was surprised now to
find that nothing but the memory of
his having been there remained to him.
Their laughter he remembered only as
a dream shadowed in the passing years.
Sergei didn't find much to laugh at.
ever, and he wondered that others could
be so free. But Sergei was no fool, and
he knew the ways of men.
'A hundred versts of wind and cold,'
he muttered as the horses took the first
sting of' the whip and started off.
'Come, brother, the holy father will
be kind,' said Levin. 'What a night for
a journey. We are on our way 'to Nov-
gorod, Sergei, think of it!'
. . . that ugly universal snoring hum of
the overfilled deep-sunk Posterity of
Adam . . .
They quickly passed the border of
the town and the horses gathered speed.
The wind whistled about their ears, the
blankets flapped and the reins nearly
sang. Soon there was nothing, nothing
but wind and cold and snow, dark . . .
gray . . . snow. Above them the moon
struggled to get through the heavy
clouds. Sometimes it succeeded. Then
the view would be pleasanter and Ser-
gei would hum to himself. But when the
light disappeared Sergei would cease
humming and seem more given to talk.
'It's a good moon,' said Sergei, 'it will
keep us in the way. Do you feel sure that
we shan't get lost, Levin? It's over forty
versts to Novgorod, and the night is
long.

pretty one, Olga.
of her, Sergei? Do
late?'

'She's all right,' said Sergei with tre
bashfulness of his years.
Levin laughed. 'One would 'think you
were answering Olga herself, you seem
so ,modest and shy. You never go about
with the girls in town, do you. Sergei?'
he added mischievously.
'No,' replied Sergei, doggedly. 'The
old woman was not a good one, and the
ladies I once met in St. Petersburg I
didn't like. And yet . . . Olga is a better
sort than they.'
Levin stretched and yawned. 'Why
don't you get married, Sergei? You work
hard and should be able to support a
wife. Petro Androvsky will marry soon.
A little mugging is good for a man. What
do you do about that, Sergei?'
Sergei didn't answer. He was not em-
barrassed, but he hated to hear a man
talk that way about women. It was not
what Levin said (for any man will have
his joke), but the way in which he said
it ..
The clouds were leaving now and the
moonlight spread all over the plain,
white and bright like a banquet hall in
St. Petersburg.
I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction
And the curtains of the land of Midian
Did tremble.
Was the Lord displeased against the
rivers?
Was thine anger against the rivers?
Was thy wrath against the sea,

Tears, bitter tears .
Incensed with indignation, Satan
stood
Unterrified, and like a comet burned,
That fires the length of Ophiuchus
huge
In the arctic sky, and from his horrid
hair
Shakes pestilence and war.
One hundred and eighty thousand
strong stand the Czechs..
ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY
THOUSAND STRONG they stand
When the horses were again under
way Levin started to sing, for he was
a merry fellow, though he was not kind.
Sergei joined in.
And they sang as the sanyi cut the
newly fallen snow. They sang as they
left the great Borganya in the rear.,They
sang as they crossed the frozen Neda.
Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.
They sang of love, of love grown old.
They sang of joy and grief.
'Sing me the song of the ancient
river,' said Sergei when they had fin-
ished.
So Levin sang of the Volga, the migh-

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