"Wait for me.."

"Wait for me" is one of the best-known of all Russian poems. It was written by Konstantin Simonov in 1941, soon after Hitler's invasion of Russia. In the summer of 1941, Simonov was 25 and (despite his aristocratic origins) already an increasingly successful Soviet poet and playwright. He was passionately in love with the young actress Valentina Serova. When Hitler struck, Simonov received immediate orders to proceed to the front as a war correspondent. Valentina saw him off at the station...

The troop train took him westward - towards, as he thought, the frontier. But by that time the German blitzkrieg had actually penetrated far into Russia and the train never reached its destination. Within hours, Simonov was exposed to the brutal and chaotic realities of war: Valentina must have seemed a very long way away. .

His subsequent poems will continue the story of a young man simultaneously exposed to all the dangers of war, of a passionate love-affair - and of sudden and dramatic national celebrity.

The next two poems are light-hearted. But they were written in the most difficult circumstances imaginable - at the worst period of the war for Russia, when Russian cities were being overrun one after another, and hundreds of thousands of Russian troops were being killed or captured. Several times Simonov found himself in a unit which was fighting for its life, surrounded by the German army. As a war correspondent, he traveled to and from Odessa, which was besieged, in a submarine. His life was in the balance almost every day...but he survived

Read on..