Yevgeny Yevtushenko (18 July 1933 / Zima Junction, Siberia)
Conversation with an American Writer
'You have courage, ' they tell me.
It's not true. I was never courageous.
I simply felt it unbecoming
to stoop to the cowardice of my colleagues.
I've shaken no foundations.
I simply mocked at pretense and inflation.
Wrote articles. Scribbled no denunciations.
And tried to speak all on my mind.
Yes, I defended men of talent,
branding the hacks, the would-be writers.
But this, in general, we should always do;
and yet they keep stressing my courage.
Oh, our descendants will burn with bitter shame
to remember, when punishing vile acts,
that most peculiar time, when
plain honesty was labeled 'courage'...
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