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Konstantin Simonov, Russian war poet

Konstantin Simonov
Russian writer, poet, screenwriter, journalist, and social activist – Konstantin Simonov (born Kirill) was born on November 28 (Old Style – 15 November) 1915 in Petrograd. Early years he spent in Ryazan and Saratov.
Konstantin’s father, an officer in the Tsar’s army, left Russia after the Revolution in 1917 and died in Poland after 1921 and he was brought up by his stepfather – a teacher of military school.
After completing basic seven-year education in 1930 in Saratov, Konstantin went into the factory workshop school to learn to be a lathe-turner. In 1931 his family moved to Moscow, and Simonov, after completing the course in the factory workshop school, went to work in a factory, where he worked until 1935.
During these years he began to write poems.

The first of Simonov’s poems were published in 1936 in the magazines Young Guard and October.
He studied at the Moscow Institute of History, Philosophy, and Literature, but he was sent as a war correspondent to the Khalkhin Gol campaign in Mongolia, and did not return to the institute until 1939.
In 1940 Konstantin wrote the first play The History of One Love, which was performed on the stage of the Leningrad Leninist Komsomol Theatre, and his second in 1941, A Lad from Our Town.
During the year, Simonov attended the course for war correspondents at the Military Political Academy.
From the first days of the Great Patriotic War, Konstantin was in the army: he was a correspondent for the newspaper “Krasnaya Zvezda”, “The Truth,” “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, “Battle Flag”, etc. In 1942 Simonov was awarded the title of senior battalion commissar, in 1943 a lieutenant colonel, and after the war a colonel.
As a war correspondent he visited Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Poland, Germany, witnessed the last battle for Berlin.
During the war years, he wrote the plays Russian people, Wait for me, So it will be, the short novel Days and Nights (1943-44) and two books of poems With you and without you and War.
Simonov wrote many poems devoted to Valentina Serova, his wife.
His collected reports appeared after the War: Letters from Czechoslovakia, Slav friendship, Yugoslavian notebook and From the Black to the Barents Sea: Notes of a war correspondent.
After the war Simonov spent three years in overseas trips to Japan (1945-1946), the United States and China.
Konstantin Simonov died on August 28, 1979 in Moscow.
Konstantin Mikhailovich Simonov
Numerous films were released in the Soviet Union on Simonov’s scenarios and based on his works:
Lad from Our Town (1942), directed by Aleksandr Stolper
Wait for Me (1943), directed by Aleksandr Stolper
In the Name of the Fatherland (1943), directed by Vsevolod Pudovkin and Dmitriy Vasilyev (play Russian People)
Days and Nights (1945), directed by Aleksandr Stolper
The Russian Question (1947)
The Immortal Garrison (1956)
The Normandy – Neman (1960), joint production by the USSR and France)
The Alive and the Dead (1964), directed by Aleksandr Stolper
Retribution (1967), directed by Aleksandr Stolper
Grenada, Grenada, My Grenada… (1967), documentary, co-directed with Roman Karmen
The Polunin Case (1970)
The Fourth (1972), directed by Aleksandr Stolper
Twenty Days Without War (1976), directed by Aleksei German
From Lopakhin’s Notes (1977)

Alexei and Konstantin Simonov

Alexei and Konstantin Simonov. May Day demonstration, 1954

This poem is probably one of the most famous war poems ever written. Konstantin Simonov wrote it at the worst period of the war. The German army was just 30 kilometers from Moscow, Leningrad was under siege, three million soldiers had been taken prisoner. The situation looked hopeless…
Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
to Valentina Serova
Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
Wait with all you’ve got!
Wait, when dreary yellow rains
Tell you, you should not.
Wait when snow is falling fast,
Wait when summer’s hot,
Wait when yesterdays are past,
Others are forgot.
Wait, when from that far-off place,
Letters don’t arrive.
Wait, when those with whom you wait
Doubt if I’m alive.
Wait for me, and I’ll come back!
Wait in patience yet
When they tell you off by heart
That you should forget.
Even when my dearest ones
Say that I am lost,
Even when my friends give up.
Sit and count the cost,
Drink a glass of bitter wine
To the fallen friend —
Wait! And do not drink with them!
Wait until the end!
Wait for me and I’ll come back,
Dodging every fate!
“What a bit of luck!” they’ll say,
Those that did not wait.
They will never understand
How amidst the strife,
By your waiting for me, dear,
You had saved my life.
How I made it, we shall know,
Only you and I.
You alone knew how to wait —
We alone know why!
Translated by Mike Munford

Konstantin Simonov, Russian war poet