A cóрок (Russian 40)
I chose to write this story in this format of 40 lines to honor the Russian cóрок (sorok.)
In Russian folklore, some Russians believe that ghosts of the dead linger near the site of their death for forty days.
I also composed this poem with the lines and stanzas written in the Pushkin Sonnet, or Onegin Stanza of tetrameter.
The rhyme scheme is also different from traditional sonnets:
Rather than just 3 quatrains followed by a couplet, I composed this poem with 3 sets of 3 quatrains followed by 2 sets of 2 couplets.
The story of the Golden Cherub
A golden cherub is saved by Natalya in St. Petersburg from being destroyed by the Germans during WWII.
She promises the golden cherub to the poet who can preserve it through his poetic medium.
3 poets attempt to preserve the golden cherub with their art.
Natalya gets ill and dies before she can bestow the gift.
Natalya’s ghost lingers in St. Petersburg for 40 days.
The poets argue over who won.
The golden cherub is returned to St. Petersburg* and displayed in the Hermitage.
Natalya’s ashes are scattered in the Neva.
She sought to make its beauty last
A baby angel, made of gold
At times time seemed to go too fast
It warmed her heart in winter’s cold
Their bombs destroyed her city’s pride
She kept it safe, and tried to hide
The baby angel, made of gold
That warmed her heart in winter’s cold
To make its gold forever shine
She sought a poet who would write
With words that always would be bright
His prize would be its gold, divine
When dangers come, will darkness last
Or disappear within your gold
Will winters we’ve endured, be past
And will your warmth replace our cold?
Don’t disappear; don’t even hide
We feel your beauty, deep inside
Angelic hands and heart of gold
Reveal the story we’ve foretold
Cherubic beauty, grace divine
Compel with gold, the words I write
Reflect my words with priceless light
Beyond my poem’s mere design
The siege was where disease was sewn
The fruit of illness fell as death
Before the winner’s name was known
Natalya gave her final breath
The cóрок saw Natalya’s ghost
Beside her grave, the Baltic coast
She sang within the winds of time
Without poetic words or rhyme
And on the shore the poets sat
And argued who had won the prize
They knew their words could not disguise
The fate their words could not combat
The Angel’s gold would never fade
Within the Hermitage displayed
Natalya’s ashes, with her fame
Enhance the river Neva’s name.