(untitled)

I leave nothing behind,
I burn the boats,
I burn, burn, I do not cool.
Cool, I say, do not burn!

Towards the steppe wastes I shall turn,
the yellow sands,
I shall leave no sign that I have ever been,
no, nor lines of verse.

— Natalya Gorbanevskaya (1965)
(Trans. by Daniel Weissbort)

Poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya was arrested in December 1969 for her dissident activities — particularly her protests against the Warsaw Pact nations’ 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. After her arrest, she was committed indefinitely to a prison psychiatric institution. She was still incarcerated in 1972 when Daniel Weissbort prepared a volume containing this poem and a transcript of her trial. She was released from prison on February 22, 1972, two weeks after Weissbort’s book was published in London. Gorbanevskaya went into exile and was stateless until Poland granted her citizenship in 2005.

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