In 1990, the Award for Freedom of Speech and Expression was given in memory of those whose voices helped destroy the Iron Curtain. Andrei Sakharov is their symbol – one of the bravest men of our time. A poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko is dedicated to his memory. The poem was read by Adrian Brine, one of the leading stage personalities of the Netherlands.
A STRIKING HEART
Dedicated to the memory of A.D. Sakharov
The heart went on strike,
as if it were a mine.
hair even whiter in the snow,
he left the Kremlin, hatless,
through ghosts of boyars,
Malyuta spied on him in the powdery snow,
and so did Beria,
and that pock-marked butcher….
His last words to his wife
and the world were:
"Tomorrow there will be a battle…."
History's most peaceful rebel,
in dying, he
did not come down from the cross,
but he left a horrifying hole
in the moral fabric of the world.
There is no strike more terrible,
But in defiance of advancing death
face whiter than a leaflet,
he raised his fists
above the Congress's jeers.
not personal spite,
but reason led him to save the country
from rule by arrogance,
which had turned into war against the self.
He understood, in premonition of the end,
boos still ringing in his ears:
that unenlightened semifreedom
was just a step away from enlightened freedom.
weary of tears and groans,
don't grow accustomed
after the murder of millions
to the loss of individual geniuses.
The pivot of a nation
is an individual.
A nation is made up of people,
to keep from freezing over,
learn at last to be warmer toward your geniuses.
We 're too closely enmeshed
with the base and the unclean,
and if we solve complexities crudely,
we will have to weep over the idealists
we hound to the grave.
Will we be able to avert apathy
and keep up our spirits and our conscience,
and worry how to earn our freedom
where power belongs to everyone
and the only authority is conscience?
Let's unite at the fateful mountains pass!
As long as our hearts
bear up under the load
and do not tire,
do not go on strike….
As long as there is a tomorrow,
tomorrow there will be a battle.
Translated, from the Russian, by Antonina W. Bouis. December 15, 1989.