National Poetry Day: Natalya Gorbanevskaya
To celebrate National Poetry Day, Index is publishing some of our favourite poems from our archives. This, from Russian dissident poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya, was published in our very first issue
03 Oct 13

Natalya Gorbanevskaya (b 1936) was active in the Russian dissident movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. That movement provided the impetus and inspiration for the founding of Index on Censorship. After facing severe oppression in Russia, including being deemed committed to a psychiatric hosptial (a common punishment for dissidents), Gorbanevskaya fled to Paris, where she now lives.

Index published 14 of her poems, smuggled out of the Soviet Union, in our very first issue in 1972. This is one of them.

Turn the sky over,
lower it into the sea,
the silent into the voiceless.
Help the sea to rise,
lift the sea into the sky,
sea-blue into sky-blue,
height and depth
bring into balance.

Balance yourself and the world,
the world and the ladybird,
the wavelet and the wave
that drags you under to the bottom.
And go down to the bottom, softly
banging the moist doors behind you.

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By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.