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Клермонтский собор (1)

May 10, 2010

The route of the First Crusade

The one Crimean War poem we have looked at on this blog sympathized with the mothers of dead soldiers; it could be applied to either side, and indeed to any war.  A more historically specific and partisan response to the conflict is Apollon Maikov’s “Клермонтский собор” (1853).  Without drawing the parallel explicitly, at least in this 1858 version, it offers a historical comparison where “the West” acted differently: the First Crusade in the eleventh century.

The relatively short poema begins with a catalogue of the exotic medieval figures attending the Council of Clermont: the Pope along with cardinals, knights and warriors with weapons, armor, and hair appropriate to their various nations, as well as their jewel-adorned wives.  This gives way to another list, of omens that had been seen and rumors that had been circulating:

Необычайная молва
Давно чудесные слова
И непонятные сказанья
Носила в мире. Виден крест
Был в небе. Несся стон с востока.
Заря кровавого потока
Имела вид. Меж бледных звезд
Как человеческое было
Лицо луны, и слезы лило,
И вкруг клубился дым и мгла….
Чего-то страшного ждала
Толпа, внимать готовясь Богу —
И били грозную тревогу

Со всех церквей колокола.

There had been little enjambment in the survey of those present at the Council in their grandeur, and the dense series of enjambments in the middle of the passage above conveys the mood of apprehension appropriate to such supernatural signs.

The scene thus set, a pilgrim kneels before the Pope and begins a speech that will take up almost all of the remaining two-thirds of the poema.  More on this in the next post.

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