Bianca and the Commissar

I was reading at the Periodicals Room of Yale's Sterling Memorial Library the other day. The magazine I happened to pick up was called Soviet Literature, subtitled "A Monthly Journal of the Writers' Union of the U.S.S.R. published in English, French, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Polish, Czech, and Slovak." The issue, for March 1985, "marked the occasion," as its editors put it, "of the 8th of March, the International Women's Day," and contained poems inspired by that famous holiday. I share with you several lines from the first poem:

Youth—a concept which I believe
Actual years do not really explain.
If you seek no idle repose and rest
Then your youth you still surely retain.


If you still believe that you can
Climb up any mountain crest
You are surely twenty years less
Than your document may profess.

It goes on like that for a bit.

Next to Soviet Literature, alphabetically, lay the current issue of the quarterly Southern Review, published by Louisiana State University (mercifully, I should say, in only one language, English, and with a net press run of only 2,968 copies). It, too, contained poetry by and about women. I'll share several lines from the first poem:

Here on the prison lawns, a veil
of sunlight weights the...

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