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Russian Bolshevik soldiers demonstrating in Petrograd.
Text:
Първиятъ реводюционенъ отрядъ въ начадото на реводюцията.

Russian Bolshevik soldiers demonstrating in Petrograd.

Image text

Първиятъ реводюционенъ отрядъ въ начадото на реводюцията.

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Tuesday, February 12, 1918

"III

The lads have all gone to the wars

to serve in the Red Guard—

to serve in the Red Guard—

and risk their hot heads for the cause.



Hell and damnation,

life is such fun

with a ragged greatcoat

and a Jerry gun!



To smoke the nobs out of their holes

we'll light a fire through all the world,

a bloody fire through all the world—

Lord, bless our souls!"

Quotation Context

Section III of "The Twelve" by Russian poet Alexander Blok. The Twelve are Red Guards patrolling Petrograd in a furious snowstorm. They encounter an old woman despairing at the sight of an enormous banner that would have clothed many children, a cleric, a bourgeois, a tramp, and a couple living it up as they patrol to keep at bay the enemies of the Revolution. A carriage races past, but is stopped, the driver and male passenger fleeing, escaping the patrol's rifle fire. Only the female passenger is hit, killed by one of the Twelve who had been her lover. In the final section XII, they are lured on by a mysterious figure they fire on, but who continues ahead of them waving a blood-red flag. The poem is dated January, 1918 (mid-January to mid-February New Style), as the negotiations between the Russians and the Central Powers were collapsing. Translation by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France.

Source

The Twelve and Other Poems by Alexander Blok, page 147, copyright © 1970 by Jon Stallworthy & Peter France, publisher: Oxford University Press, publication date: 1970

Tags

1918-02-12, 1918, February, Red Army, The Twelve, Alexander Blok, Blok