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Как у всех-то людей светлый праздничек

July 6, 2010
Как у всех-то людей светлый праздничек,
День великой — помин по родителям,
Только я, сиротинка — безродная,
На погосте поминок не правила.
Я у мужа вечор отпросилася:
— “Отпусти, осударь, — похристосуюсь
На могилке со свекором — батюшкой.”
Идучи, я с дороженьки сбилася,
Во темном во лесу заплуталася,
У оврага в лесу опозналася.
В том овраге могила бескрестная:
Всю размыло ее ливнем-дождиком,
Размело — разнесло непогодушкой…
Подошла я к могиле — шатнулася,
Белой грудью о землю ударилась:
— “Ты скажи мне, сырая могилушка,
Таково ли легко было молодцу
Загубить свою душеньку грешную,
Каково то легко было девице

Под невольный венец снаряжатися?”

I’ve been reading Mei more to fill in a gap than because I expected to find a wealth of forgotten great poems, but I like this one a lot. It’s still in the “folk” subsection of Mei’s work (one of the “lyric songs in folk spirit, often written from a woman’s point of view,” in Bukhmeier’s words), but unlike “Запевка” it’s a straightforward literary imitation of a folk song, rather than a self-referential literary folk song about folk folk song.

As I read it, the молодец and девица in the last four lines are the narrator’s husband and the narrator herself, while загубить душеньку alludes to a rape or seduction followed by the coerced marriage  (невольный венец).  I’m used to adjusting for сирота being milder than the English word “orphan,” since a сирота may have lost only one parent. Here, though, the сиротинка безродная is more orphaned than most orphans: if I understand the poem correctly, she lost both parents so early that she does not remember them or know who they were or where they are buried.

Even to honor her father-in-law she needs to travel, and at the local village churchyard (погост) she had no parents at all (including, I take it, her husband’s parents) to remember on the appropriate day. She is apparently separated from the place she was born, the place she grew up, and even the place her husband is from. Did the couple flee his village to escape the scandal of how their marriage came to be?

Her isolation is emphasized by three sets of graves mentioned or implied: the absent grave of her parents, the never-reached, distant grave of her father-in-law, and the anonymous grave in the ravine that she finally appeals to.

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