If I come, will I see?


I am a sinner Baba, an old Cossack, broken and ugly, a beggar of mercy.

Who came with wounds to see faces without a name.

              – – – – – –    

Names are many;

But One is Wisdom,

His Truth makes merry,

His Love never gone.

             – – – – – –    

You told me to come to your parish Baba, and so I came;

and saw a Christ that God knows not.

             – – – – – –   

Chants and hymns and words and noise,

a choir, to its glory many a sounds;

While His Beauty, while His Silence,

lost in a world that spins around.

             – – – – – –    

I prayed and begged words of mercy,

they sneered and jeered and showed their teeth:

God, they know Him not.

             – – – – – –    

I am a sinner Baba, a blind old man with two kopecks;

Who came helpless to see more stones answer his pain.

             – – – – – –    

To God I pray and rejoice always;

Every speck of time is glory and praise, love to take and love to give.

             – – – – – –    

You told me to come Baba to your parish and so I came;

before Hours, there I stood very few hearts with me to cry.

             – – – – – –    

Later, then I came; and in a hall a crowd I saw,

armed with gossips and lust and lies;

while empty laid a nave; 

ten souls or few, all to slumber.

             – – – – – –    

Later still I came, and I saw a hell followed by those,

who lit candles that give no light,

who kiss a Bible, they do not read,

who say words, they do not pray,

who commune with mouths that speak no truth,

for bodies in works never broken,

their blood for love never be spilled,

bowing to a Cross their faith won’t bear,

carried by hands that bless no more.

             – – – – – –    

So I came, and death I saw,

So I came and so I cried.

So I came, and stood alone.

So I came, and so I saw,

Many eyes closed,

alone I die, no one can mourn; 

no one can cry.

             – – – – – –    

You want me to stay in your parish Baba,

But if I stay, thorn in my side will it vanish?

Blinis and peroghies in your parish Baba,

But of hunger will I perish?

Speeches and pride and shallow dreams,

True heart and hope will I cherish?

Ladies of the night, men of the world in your parish Baba,

But if I stay, to rest in Christ where will I lay?

             – – – – – –    

I am an old Cossack, Baba, an Orthodox, a child of God;

I am not a bear in a circus of tears enchained to dance,

for double-hearted clowns who worship a God they do not fear.

                                                  Vassili Borisevitch, Liège, Belgium (1968)

                                                   (Translated by Nikita J. Eike)

Translator’s Note:  The poem is the answer to a question as to what he thought was causing the various problems in the parish and why he was not more involved. Vassili Borisevitch was an imperial Cossack who came to Belgium after the Revolution. He was a staunch defender of Orthodoxy, a master word weaver, someone who could look very deep into the human soul with an eye that can see what cannot be seen with the naked eye. He has left various work, poems and short stories. So far, only two have been translated into English.