Konstantin Simonov, Russian war poet
Konstantin Simonov is a famous writer, poet and journalist. His works, written during the war, were not just a reflection of reality, but also a kind of prayer. For example, the poem Wait For Me, written in the summer of 1941 and dedicated to Valentina Serova, still gives hope to the soldiers who have gone to the battlefield. Also, the genius of literature is known for the works Kill Him, Open Letter, The Alive and the Dead and others.
Kirill Simonov (his real name) was born on November 28, 1915 in Petrograd. Early years he spent in Ryazan and Saratov. His father, an officer in the Tsar’s army, left Russia after the Revolution in 1917 and died in Poland after 1921. The boy was brought up by his stepfather, who worked as a military specialist, and later headed the workers’ and peasants’ Red Army.
After completing basic seven-year education in 1930 in Saratov, Konstantin entered the factory workshop school. In 1931 his family moved to Moscow, and Simonov worked in a factory until 1935. During those years he began to write poems.
In parallel, Konstantin Mikhailovich was educated at the Literary Institute named after Maxim Gorky. Then he was accepted to graduate school of the Moscow Institute of Philosophy, Literature and History named after N.G. Chernyshevsky.
His first poems were published in 1936 in the Young Guard and October magazines.
Later Simonov was drafted into the army, where he had served as a military correspondent before Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov announced about the attack of Adolf Hitler on the radio. The young man was sent to write articles about the battles at Khalkhin Gol, a local conflict between the Japanese Empire and Manchukuo. There Simonov met Georgy Zhukov, who received the popular nickname Marshal of Victory.
When the Great Patriotic War began, Simonov joined the Red Army and was published in the newspapers Izvestia, Battle Flag and Red Star.
For his services and courage, the writer who visited all the fronts and saw the lands of Poland, Romania, Germany and other countries, was awarded many notable awards. He received medal For the defense of the Caucasus, the Order of the Patriotic War of the first degree, the medal For the Defense of Moscow, etc.
A man who saw the horrors that were taking place during the Great Patriotic War carried those memories as a heavy burden, throughout his life. Therefore, it is not surprising that the bloody events of 1941-1945 became a background for creativity. The main theme of his works is war.
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 play A Lad from Our Town was written in 1941.
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. In 1942 Simonov was awarded the title of senior battalion commissar, in 1943 a lieutenant colonel, and after the war a colonel.
During the war years, he wrote the plays Russian People, Wait For Me, the short novel Days and Nights (1943-44) and two books of poems With You And Without You and War.
It is worth noting that Simonov is a universal writer. He wrote poems, plays and even novels.
After the war Konstantin Mikhailovich worked as an editor in the magazine New World. He visited many countries, observed the beauty of the Land of the Rising Sun and traveled to America and China, witnessed the last battle for Berlin. Also Simonov served as editor-in-chief of the Literary Gazette from 1950 to 1953.
It is known that after the death of Joseph Stalin, Konstantin Mikhailovich wrote an article and asked all writers to write about great personality and his historical role in the life of the Soviet people. However, Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev did not share the point of view of the writer. Therefore, Simonov was removed from his post.
It is also worth mentioning that Konstantin Mikhailovich participated in the struggle against a separate stratum of the intelligentsia. In other words, the writer did not like his colleagues – Anna Akhmatova, Mikhail Zoshchenko and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Among other things, Konstantin Mikhailovich translated into Russian the texts of Rudyard Kipling, the author of the famous book about the adventures of Mowgli, as well as the works of the Azerbaijani poet Nasimi and Uzbek writer Kakhhar.
Numerous films were released in the Soviet Union based on Simonov’s works: Lad from Our Town, Wait for Me, In the Name of the Fatherland, Days and Nights, The Immortal Garrison, The Alive and the Dead, Retribution, Twenty Days Without War and others.
Writer Natalia Ginzburg, a girl from a noble and respected family, was his first love. Konstantin Mikhailovich dedicated the poem Five Pages to her, but the relationship between the two creative personalities was a fiasco.
Then he was together with Evgenia Laskina, who gave birth to their son in 1939. Laskina worked as a literary editor, and it was she who published the immortal novel by Mikhail Bulgakov Master and Margarita in 1960.
The writer fell in love with beautiful actress Valentina Serova, who played in the films Hearts of Four (1941), Glinka (1946), Immortal Garrison (1956) and many others. Their daughter Maria was born in 1950. The actress inspired Simonov for creativity and was his muse. Valentina and Konstantin broke up in 1950. It is known that the writer’s ex-wife died in 1975. The writer sent a bouquet of 58 scarlet roses to the funeral of a woman with whom he lived for 15 years.
The fourth and the last love in the life of Simonov was art critic Larissa Zhadova. Their daughter Alexandra was born in 1957.
Konstantin Simonov died on August 28, 1979 in Moscow. The cause of death was a malignant lung tumor. The body of the poet and prose writer was cremated, and his ashes (according to the will) were scattered over the Buinichsky field, a memorial complex located in Mogilev.
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