Wednesday, July 1, 2015

In the Gulag Darkness

from the Gulag Museum at Perm 36


In the Gulag darkness, soldiers check the rolls
We women, wrapped in blankets, row on row
remember the warm homes we used to know
endure the bitter cold, the falling snow

We women, wrapped in blankets, row on row
under the guns, the beatings, we resist
endure the bitter cold, the falling snow
We dream - the only freedom that we know

Under the guns, the beatings, we resist
Inside our minds, the one place They cant go
We dream - the only freedom that we know
They have our bodies-they'll not get our souls

Inside our minds, the one place They cant go
we think of the warm homes we used to know
They have our bodies - they'll not get our souls
In the Gulag darkness, soldiers check the rolls


A pantoum for Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif: Freedom

The woman in the photograph is Maria Tchebotareva, sentenced to ten years in the Gulag for stealing three pounds of rye to feed her four hungry children during the famine. She "stole" the grain from what was formerly her own field, confiscated by the state during collectivization.

source: http://gulaghistory.org/nps/onlineexhibit/stalin/crimes.php

23 comments:

  1. Under the guns, the beatings, we resist
    Inside our minds, the one place They cant go

    It pains me when I think of the people who endured so much when fighting for their freedom. It is they for whom the word "freedom" truly means the world.. their right to live as they wish to. Beautifully executed.

    Lots of love,
    Sanaa

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  2. Freedom is mostly a state of mind. Some philosophers have talked of a collective mind and it is surprising that collective behaviour in certain parts of the world continue to exhibit fascist tendencies.
    Lovely poem, Sherry!

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    1. I always wonder, too, with so many millions wanting peace, why strife is still so prevalent.

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  3. Pain and suffering are harsh realities in a world where expression is frown upon by those who prefer to live in black and white. Freedom is vibrant colour all around. Very powerful piece.

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  4. Oh Sherry! I don't think I would survive. When one has lived well as a result of working hard and is then deprived of everything? Stealing her own food? You capture beautifully/horribly in Pantoum form the repetition of the days, the retreat into the private space of mind and heart, the dreams, the cold--day after day after day. I feel them fighting/resisting in the only way possible. Wow!

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  5. Such a wonder that women had to endure in times of conflicts. Great lines Sherry!

    Hank

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  6. "They have our bodies-they'll not get our souls" ah..the language of freedom that always expresses immense power...a wonderful Pantoum Sherry...

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  7. Such a sad thing to happen. There are many reasons people were sent to the Gulag - violent criminals, murderers & rapists, but a significant part of the prison population were innocent people, like Maria who were sent to the labor camps .
    ""They have our bodies-they'll not get our souls" Heart wrenching line. So well written, Sherry.
    Read a Pantoum... for the first time. Great job!

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  8. You have depicted the anguish of these women so perfectly.
    "They have our bodies - they'll not get our souls"~Powerful words.

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  9. Sherry, you have captured their hardships and strengths in times of turbulence .. they'll not get our souls - that is so deep and well said.

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  10. How time and again some powerful people behaved inhumanly with their weaker counterparts .. :-( Why and how they do so? I always wonder !!!

    You've penned it so crisply....liked the pantoum form..somewhat similar to a villanelle... :-)

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  11. "Under the guns, the beatings, we resist
    Inside our minds, the one place They cant go
    We dream - the only freedom that we know"

    Bleak and horrific, when freedom is found only in dreams.

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  12. People like this are suffering as we write. Good to be reminded of it...places a perspective on our own lives.

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  13. In our minds we are always free; but truly some people have so much to bear in life one wonders how they can survive at all.

    P.S. Happy Canada Day, Sherry.

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  14. This form is so engaging, you've done a great job with the repetitions.

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  15. I have met some of those women and their children. They are survivors and grateful for each day and they hold onto the mustard seed of freedom.

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  16. We live such comfortable lives we cannot imagine the privations that others have endured and will continue to suffer under authoritarian regimes. The intention is to embed a feeling of hopelessness so resistance in not contemplated. It is still happening now in the world today. Powerful write Sherry.

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  17. The loss of freedom makes it hard, your poem exemplifies the bravery of those who chose to resist.

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  18. Such a powerful piece Sherry and yet one of knowing and hope..we are strong...and smart and whatever circumstance we have the misfortune of being in..if we hold onto our most valuable possession - our soul - there is always the hope of freedom xo

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  19. So sad to imagine this captivity. Even sadde to know that it was real and that this inhumanity can happen.

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  20. Yes sometimes freedom is only a dream, but it can sustain us more than the circumstances we find ourselves in. Touching lines.

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  21. heart wrenchingly written, when will history make an impression on more than just those that live it or write about?

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  22. The form of the pantoum suits the meaning of the poem very well, Sherry. A very poignant and in a way quite defiant poem! I had to re-read it a couple of times in order to savour the words again and again.

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I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.
Thank you so much. I will be over to see you soon!