[Alexandr] Blok wrote “The Scythians” on January 30, 1918, one day after he completed his poem “Twelve.” The prominent Blok specialist Vladimir Orlov called “The Scythians” a “monumental revolutionary and patriotic ode.” By this time Blok had already made his definitive political and civic choice in favor of what he called “revolutionary music,” in which he discerned the sounds of historical catharsis. Drained and exhausted by severe disappointments, Blok would die two and a half years later, but at the time he was caught up in the revolutionary storm, driven by a vision of a new world, a new individual, and a new culture. - from "The Scythian Odyssey" by Prof. Volodymyr Panchenko 29 March 2005
Millions are you – and hosts, yea hosts, are we, And we shall fight if war you want, take heed. Yes, we are Scythians – leafs of the Asian tree, Our slanted eyes are bright aglow with greed.
Ages for you, for us the briefest space, We raised the shield up as your humble lieges To shelter you, the European race From the Mongolians’ savage raid and sieges.
Ages, yea ages, did your forges’ thunder Drown even avalanches’ roar. Quakes rent Messina and Lisbon asunder – To you this was a distant tale – no more.
Eastwards you cast your eyes for many hundred years, Greedy for our precious stones and ore, And longing for the time when with a leer You’d yell an order and the guns would roar.
This time is now. Woe beats its wings And every adds more humiliation Until the day arrives which brings An end to placid life in utter spoliation.
You, the old world, now rushing to perdition, Yet strolling languidly to lethal brinks, Yours is the ancient Oedipean mission To seek to solve the riddles of a Sphinx.
The Sphinx is Russia, sad and yet elated, Stained with dark blood, with grief prostrate, For you with longing she has looked and waited, Replete with ardent love and ardent hate.
Yet how will ever you perceive That, as we love, as lovingly we yearn, Our love is neither comfort nor relief But like a fire will destroy and burn.
We love cold figures’ hot illumination, The gift of supernatural vision, We like the Gallic wit’s mordant sensation And dark Teutonic indecision.
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We love the flavour and the smell of meat, The slaughterhouses’ pungent reek. Why blame us then if in the heat Of our embrace your bones begin to creak.
We saddle horses wild and shy, As in the fields so playfully they swerve. Though they be stubborn, yet we press their thigh Until they willingly and meekly serve.
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Join us! From horror and from strife Turn to the peace of our embrace. There is still time. Keep in its sheath your knife. Comrades, we will be brothers to your race.
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Say no – and we are none the worse. We, too, can utter pledges that are vain. But ages, ages will you bear the curse Of our sons’ distant offspring racked with pain.
Our forests’ dark depths shall we open wide To you, the men of Europe’s comely race, And unmoved shall we stand aside, An ugly grin on our Asian face.
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Advance, advance to Ural’s crest, We offer you a battleground so neat Where your machines of steel in serried ranks abreast With the Mongolian savage horde will meet.
But we shall keep aloof from strife, No longer be your shield from hostile arrow, We shall just watch the mortal strife With our slanting eyes so cold and narrow.
Unmoved shall we remain when Hunnish forces The corpses’ pockets rake for plunder, Set town afire, to altars tie their horses, Burn our white brothers’ bodies torn asunder.
To the old world goes out our last appeal: To work and peace invite our warming fires. Come to our hearth, join our festive meal. Called by the strings of our Barbarian lyres.
30 January 1918