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I borrowed two lines from Osip Mandelshtam, the great Russian poet who died in the Soviet Far East before World War II. These two lines energise the poem.

It accompanies my other Russian themed villanelle, Chernobyl.

After Osip Mandelshtam for Julia

Hugh.hodgeby Hugh Hodge04 Feb 2014

I am the gardener and I am the flower.
For this prisoner it's dark day and night
in the world's dungeon: I do not cower

before the scaffold, much less the grim tower
at dawn. My eyes are bright, my mind is right –
I am the gardener, and I am the flower.

The guardroom bell tolls the bitter half hour
to begin each day and close black night
in the world's dungeon. I do not cower

though I have little strength, and little power.
The garden my joy, in its quiet light.
I am the gardener and I am the flower.

I till this yard's soil: it needs no plougher.
It's its defence, and the defender's insight –
in the world's dungeon I do not cower.

I'm not alone – neither rain, neither shower –
whatever weather, whether dull or bright,
I am the gardener and I am the flower;
in the world's dungeon, I do not cower.