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Who is the best Polish poet?


The Aurora legend
Tomas Venclova Poet
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Just before emigrating, Brodsky and I were sitting in a Leningrad restaurant and we saw the cruiser Aurora through the window. The Aurora is the famous ship which, during the October Revolution, supposedly fired on the Winter Palace. And with that the October Revolution began. In fact, it did not fire on the Winter Palace that was only... only a legend. There was one shot – and a blank one at that. If it had really fired on the Winter Palace then nothing would have been left of the palace. When a war ship uses its guns, that’s a serious thing; it would have razed the palace to the ground. Even the ship’s captain, right after the revolution, published a denial in the newspapers saying, ‘We have to announce that any information about a salvo having been discharged at the Winter Palace is incorrect and defamatory. We revolutionary seamen would never have fired on such a well-known cultural and historical monument. And there was only one shot and blank one at that’.

Tai štai, prieš pat emigraciją, mes su Brodskiu sėdėjome Leningrado restorane ir pro langą matėme kreiserį "Aurora". "Aurora" reiškia garsus laivas, kuris per Spalio revoliuciją neva apšaudė Žiemos rūmus. Ir tuo pačiu pradėjo tą Spalio Revoliuciją. Iš tikrųju jisai neapšaudė Žiemos rūmų, tai buvo tiktai, tiktai legenda, buvo vienas šūvis ir tas pats tuščias. Reiškia, jeigu jis būtų šaudęs į Žiemos rūmus, tai iš tų rūmų nieko nebūtų likę. Kada karinis laivas šaudo tai jau rimtas reikalas, jis būtų nušlavęs tuos rūmus. Tai net laivo kapitonas, tuoj po revoliucijos, išspausdino laikraščiuose paneigimą, kad: mes turime pranešti, kad bet kokios informacijos apie kreiserio "Auroros" salvę į Žiemos rūmus yra klaidingos ir šmeižikiškos. Mes, revoliuciniai jūrininkai, niekada nebūtume šaudę į tokį žymų kultūros ir istorijos paminklą. O buvo tik vienas šūvis ir tas pats tuščias.

Born in 1937, Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian scholar, poet, author and translator of literature. He was educated at Vilnius University and later at Tartu University. As an active participant in the dissident movement he was deprived of Soviet citizenship in 1977 and had to emigrate. Between 1977 and 1980 he lectured at University of California, Berkeley, where he became friends with the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz, who was a professor of Slavic Languages and Literature at the school, as well as the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky. He is currently a full professor at Yale University.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Aurora, October Revolution, Winter Palace, Joseph Brodsky

Duration: 1 minute, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: May/June 2011

Date story went live: 20 March 2012