Rescue by the memory

Irina Nevedrova, Candidate of Philology

Recently, a new book by Alexander Korotko - the poem "Bakhchisarai" was published. The "guiding" title and soft tones of a dust jacket are like nothing promising ... But I'm already a little familiar with the poet's creativity and I understand: it's possible a trick, it's not so simple. And I'm not mistaken. "The insulting sun scared the moon. The forest gripped the mountains by its teeth. The roads turned into the draughts... The dew falls on the ground as heavenly manna. And the heart becomes cold in the morning, and I want to quit everything and leave. To endure is not for me". Is it truely, not exactly about Bakhchisaray?


I read at once, right through, not having time to remember, to understand, I take the book into myself entirely, and somewhere inside I could see a speck of cold-rapture. Then I return to every chapter, line, word - and may the author forgive me for the rudeness of the comparison! - I drink precious wine and come off, I fall into those millennia-abysses, where only the sound of a gradually subdued string is heard. Because this poem is about Bakhchisaray, a place with a mysterious and immense history, and about Eternity, on whose face the city came out - in gratitude for having kept its secret. In other words, through a specific topos - to the eternal and common theme: man, nature, being.


And about all this - in different ways: with bitterness, pain, passion, and at the same time detached, even indifferent. The poet does not spare the reader, not even himself. Ruthless centuries, history is ruthless in relation to a single human life, which is measured "from Monday to Monday," from summer to summer. "Everything is victorious: rains, epochs, handshake of the rocks" - such is the philosophy of nature. Man is its slave. And if it instructs the city to "come up with" another evening, then it will certainly be at its residents.


A person accepts the transience of days, the old age, the premonition of the last winter, with the fact that only the smell of silence is imperishable. But he has a salvation - a "puff cake" of memory, which stores not only "bells of melancholy", but also joyful memories of a "gilded childhood". A person has a choice, says the poet: silence or non-silence. Only the non-silent can rise "to the gates of paradise," and "from the words of returned from the militia" to build a "city, minarets." The unsilent becomes a creator, and the universe is doomed to eternal life, to cold silence. The poet's concept of "silence" in combination with various epithets in a series of vivid images is most common.

The poem ends with an illustration - an old broken door, behind which either darkness, or steps leading to the unknown. Where? Does the author himself know about this? Probably knows. The poet should know. And we, the readers, will believe him and, probably, then we will also hear a deep roar, we will feel a connection with the past on this earth, which makes us all equally strong and powerless.

The poem worries how much any mystery worries. And, in turn, prompts to respond, as it happens when meeting with phenomena that go far beyond the ordinary. The handwriting of the poet cannot be confused with anyone else's.


But back to the beginning of the book. Already by the introduction, by the conciseness of the chapters consisting of ten or fifteen or even fewer lines, I understand that it is Alexander Korotko, who from the many-voiced history of the Crimea chooses the voices of small nations, "they always have eternity before their eyes" - sad, but such an understandable truth. The author skimmed through the history of Bakhchisarai, and it remains to be amazed how accurately this fluency is aimed. It is achieved by a high philosophy of thought, thick saturation, "undiluted" images that follow you, almost without giving the will to the heart - it remains compressed until the very last page, the very last line.


Here is a picture of a modern narrow Bakhchisaray street in the Old Town with a lone figure of a man (the author of the works that illustrate the book - Yuri Gladky). The figure as a question mark, appealing to eternity against the background of the sky crossed by electric wires. And on the next page - the beginning of the poem, the chapter "Prelude":


"The wingless moon soars. Enthusiastically and monotonously, the life of millennia is being perfected; the love of the land is inadmissible terribly in these moments. Behind the surprise sequence, a mosaic of memories ... "


The thought of the poet carries away in times far, different. "... Life sparkles, and on the collar of winds, with the laughter of nomadic banners, they lead the leaves and summer into autumn ... into the area where guests are gathered again, who are cramped on the ground." How many of them, these guests, almost always uninvited, passed through the Crimea, which connected the old Mediterranean, Azov countries and peoples living along the northern shores of the Black Sea? Taurus, Scythians, Sarmatians, Alans, Goths, Huns, Khazars, Pechenegs, Polovtsi, Tatar-Mongols ... Probably, this is the secret of Bakhchisaray, which absorbed, like the whole Crimean land, a unique history of the darkness of tribes and peoples. Consciously I do not touch upon the issues of religion, faith - too subtle matter; everyone will make his choice and put his understanding into the read. ("And joy, sadness, and despair the reader will feel only his own." N. Gumilev).

Turning over the pages of the poem, you feel the desire to quote the entire text, so that the reader along with you can visit this poetic feast. But let us be as laconic as the poet himself, giving his word to him, Alexander Korotko. The next chapter is "Valley of Josaphat". Here, "... the vineyards-monks and the ruined sun in their greatness of barrenness live, like small nations, in the boundless silence of freedom" and "... the gray air, drunk air, leads to abandoned graves." 

The eloquent illustrations are mute slabs of the Karaite cemetery, acacia shoots making their way through the masonry, far away behind the tiled roofs, silence and loneliness of the mystical, surreal city. "Confused Bakhchisarai, frightened place of the sky ... You hide in the memory of the centuries the shame of doomed regrets, and something close for you so far in the creations that you destroyed." The photographs illustrate both these lines and the "long path" to the Karaite cemetery. "Old Town", "Chufut-Kale", "Mangup" - everything appears really in its primordiality under the poet's pen and thanks to the "brush" of the artist.


It is not the author's goal to present the history of the ancient city, not the reader's goal - to learn it, to trace it along the dotted story trails. It is enough to take in yourself and try to comprehend, for example, this image: "... somewhere in the remote, dejected Rome, the coliseum is a pitiful copy of Bakhchisaray." The poet not accidentally, though again in passing, oppose Europe to Asia. How can you not remember Blok: "... For you centuries - for us a single hour ..."




And another story, although not so long ago, is the chapter "Loneliness": "Love and wars, his greatness (Khan Giray - I.S.) you are not worthy"; And Pushkin: "The cart is creaking, and Pushkin is going, unknown, why, to listen the fountain of Bakhchisarai ...". (I think readers will necessarily compare Bakhchisarai Korotko and Bakhchisarai Fountain of Pushkin, works absolutely incomparable.)




One by one, followed by small masterpieces, chapter-essays, and we are approaching a new tragic story. "Demons" - the expulsion from the Crimea of the Tatars (modern times): "And the unsociable winds breathe into the back of the head, and every citizen can hear the sound of rabid boots at night..." Their, peoples', pain leads the author, forcing to leaf through the dark pages of the life of the Crimean Tatars. Ten lines - and in front of the eyes is all the trampled life of a small nation, another round of history: "Half a lifetime in black, only in memory - the fatherland of childhood, where there are no sorrows or troubles, joy flows like a legacy of memories of past years ...". Here I cannot restrain myself and quote the words of another author, whose name I do not remember: "The oldest in thought is behind us, but again arises ...".



Alexander Korotko writes "Bakhchisarai" with large strokes and thin lines. You seem to climb a steep path up to the mountains, and then fall down with a stone and suddenly stop and soar over the Josaphat Valley, the Old Village and the Old City. His poetry has magical properties, and "Bakhchisarai" is a work for the prepared reader, since it is built on associations and allusions. The poem is complex in design, its metaphors are sometimes inaccessible and require knowledge of a poetic cipher. The poetry of Alexander Korotko is energetically powerful and figuratively accurate from the point of view of Russian and world literature. "Autumn seized the village in a hurry. There was a panic in the ranks of the fogs bored with melancholy ... ", and" in the night sky kazan desperate poets cooked a pilaf of stars and anger "- piercing images, temperament and passion. The poem is brought to life by inner necessity, which gives the product a living soul.



I will draw the attention of the reader to the philosophical restraint, the poet's silence, sometimes, however, causing a desire to open them, to give freedom to the senses. However, this is his will, his style. Images overwhelm, but everywhere, in every chapter, are merged silence - action and silence - state. They make images live in an atmosphere of high tension.



In conclusion, let us recall Nietzsche: "We have art to not perish before the truth." And it took place - a great work of high art. And his ways are inscrutable...