From the ending of Yevtushenko’s long poem, ‘Zima Junction.’

Don’t worry if you have no answer ready
To the last question.
Hold out, meditate, listen.
Explore. Explore. Travel the world over.
Count happiness connatural to the mind
More than truth is, and yet
No happiness to exist without it.
Walk with a cold pride
Utterly ahead
Wild attentive eyes
Head flicked by the rain-wet
Green needles of the pine,
Eyelashes that shine
With tears and thunders.
Love people.
Love entertains its own discrimination. 
Have me in mind,
I shall be watching.
You can return to me.
Now go.

Yevtushenko was only twenty-three when he wrote that about coming back home to the rural, frozen community where he grew up. There is something of the young man in there – more than a little, in fact – but it’s mind boggling how mature he was, seeing with poet’s eyes.

‘Love people.’

When I wrote about ‘Zime Junction’ before (see here), I got the maturity of the style, but not the content. I loved the long, Wordsworthian excursions (pun intended) – though with a different kind of melancholy than that which suffuses the Lake Country sage (was Wordsworth ever young?) – but really missed out on the closing of the poem the first time. I wonder now how often he did return after that first time back?

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