Saturday, May 08, 2010


Church of Transfiguration at Kizhi, Karelia region (near St Petersburg, Russia) 1714

There'll be noone in the house
Save for twilight. All alone,
Winter's day seen in the space that's
Made by curtains left undrawn.

Only flash-past of the wet white
Snowflake clusters, glimpsed and gone.
Only roofs and snows, and save for
Roofs and snow -- no one at home.

Once more, frost will trace its patterns,
I'll be haunted once again
By my last-year's melancholy,
By that other wintertime.

Once more I'll be troubled by an
Old, unexpiated shame,
And the icy firewood femine
Will press on the window-pane.

But the quiver of intrusion
Through those curtain folds will run
Measuring silence with your footsteps,
Like the future, in you'll come.

You'll appear there in the doorway
Wearing something white and plain,
Something in the very stuff from
Which the snowflakes too are sewn.

Poem by Leonid Pasternak 1890-1957                                           


This church is at Izma, Arkhangel Region of  Northeastern Russia built in 1679.  It is on 65°  Northern Latitude; about the same as Fairbanks Alaska or Great Bear Lake in Northern Canada.

Interior of Kondopanga, Karella Region, Church of the Assumption 1774 --  This church may still be in use.   

These Photos and others  were taken by Richard Davies as he roamed the north country of Russia recently.

The churches were built during the reign of Peter the Great who ruled from age 10 in 1682 43 years until 1725.  Seems he was responsible for many improvements in Russia in attempts to modernize; and it is said that he studied incognito in Europe for a few years around the turn of the century attempting to gain knowledge of other cultures' methods and  progress.

I wonder as as to those attending these churches.  They probably led a harsh life as compared to what we enjoy, and badly needed the solace of a warm place to gather and be with others during the long winters ; belief may have been secondary, but necessary.  But just as those raised in poverty and not really realizing it until later life when they could look back and compare,  I suspect that the members of the church considered themselves lucky with a decent growing season, their good health, and their ability to overcome adversity and produce those who would go on to the next section of years of faith and survival.

Lends a new aspect  to me of the term "Godless Communists" ; those I was told we were fighting in Vietnam and Korea to keep our fair and worthy country free.

  But then, any generalization for war seems to be a good generalization for war in a pinch.


  1. Well I just loved that beautiful poem...and what you wrote about the white snow, cold and "warmth" from the gathering together and communion, etc..

    I think you worded the "Godless communist" point very well. I was taught the same way while growing up. My mother was an avid fundamentalist baptist I think you probably already know that history about me. I remember being forced to go to this big beautiful baptist church where the pastor would scream and yell and talk about the "horrible communist people" and also stating that "even innocent babes" there would go to hell. I felt inside it was an "ugly" church. I will never forget the pastor talking this way as when he did, I would get up (with about 200 people looking at me pretty scary)and walked out of that church,it made me sick to my stomache. Of course I got in plenty of trouble for that, again and again! But I still have no regrets. I was forced to continue to go to the "sicko chapel" as I used to call it. When I turned 18 I was free of it! Horray!

    However I know and I have seen beautiful old Catholic churches that when I walked into them, felt such peace, serenity and beauty..and those beautiful colored window panes of Art, Angels, Mary, baby Jesus, candles everywhere and never felt any "ugliness" from that at all. I guess it depends on if you walk in there and can just kneel or light a candle and there is no service..or it depends on who is giving the "sermon" ugliness or in beauty...if that makes any sense to you?

    I love Russian architecture and also Iran, and Turkey architecture is incredible too. Saw them on a PBS travel show this man host every week..I have been told by artistic people that know me that that is "my kind of decorating style" and how I tend to decorate my own dwelling place. I had no clue until I saw the beautiful designs and buildings and Art in Iran and other countries, that I had somehow had a connection with their design, decorations and structures. Maybe I don't belong in America? I've felt this way for a long time now. Like I might want to go live in Europe. I think if I had financial security about now, and could afford to make those changes I know that I just might move away from my country. Yes, sad I suppose but oh well life goes on.

    Hey, Goatman, sorry I didn't write that spring poem you were hoping I would in my blog ...maybe in the summer? Then you can write one too?..:o)..hope your enjoying the spring flowers.



  2. Thank you for finding this awesome poem, Goatman. It says a lot to me.

    The second photo of the old church you posted could have been taken here in the Cariboo. That old weathered wooden church and the grasslands surrounding it feel very much like home. Here, churches are very important, because of the social aspect, I think, as much as anything. The insides are not as spectacular as these, but the feeling one gets inside is warm and comforting.

    With a very short growing season, with ranches spread far and wide, its inhabitants rarely seeing their neighbours, these small wooden churches served as a gathering place. They are quite humble, these old churches, but so powerful in what they represent.

    I've read, as well, that Peter the Great studied under cover in Europe. Governments may come and go, but these old churches outlive and outdo any kind of political beliefs, I think.

    A super post, Goatman, and thank you for the photos of the old Russian churches...there are many here of Russian descent and the flavour of the design of the churches here mirror that.

  3. I too enjoyed this poem with its touch of reflective melancholy and your accompanying commentary.
    For those who fought they were very probably "Godless Communists" but for those who take the time to study a little deeper they will find the Russians to be ordinary people who cry and laugh just like you and I.
    Excellent post Goatman.

    I am finally in the house of my late Father deep in renovations to return it to its former glory so to speak.

  4. such a lovely poem, beautiful pictures and interesting information along with it .. the post had it all !

    true, in the past, the religious structures were not just a place meant for worship..
    I am very much 'faithless' but always intrigued by older shrines, temples, churches et al.. esp with the history associated with it ..

  5. But then, any generalization for war seems to be a good generalization for war in a pinch.

    Ain't that the truth, but for me what is worse is the large number of suckers that will far for it every time.

  6. But the quiver of intrusion
    Through those curtain folds will run
    Measuring silence with your footsteps,
    Like the future, in you'll come.


  7. The architecture is astonishing and a testament to the capacity that people have for faith. -And such poetry. This a wonderful Russian post... I would love to visit one of these churches.

  8. ...that will far for it...

    Meant to say fall for it.

  9. 行動養成習慣,習慣培養人格,人格影響命運........................................

  10. really loved your choice of the elements to discuss faith...

    one sees how beautifully faith is omnipresent in man's every endeavor... be it a poem or a work of architecture... or a post in a blog...
    i was really enthralled by the poem... that ray of hope shining through a bleak loneliness...

    thanks a lot for this fabulous post!

  11. loved reading the poem, thank you!

  12. I agree with BB!

    Your pictures and poems are exceptionally beautiful and apt.

    What a lovely and intelligently fashioned blog.

    May I blogroll you?


  13. I would love to be able to see those places in real life! That must be really exciting!

  14. lovely poem and such lovely architecture, am from a different faith so i se churches mostly in terms of architecture and styling!!...and i like this one lots!!!

  15. I hope you have a really happy long weekend, Goatman! I trust you are well, and that you have lots of activities planned around July 4th!

    Canada Day just passed on July 1st; we spent the day in the garden. It felt great just doing that!

  16. Hi Goatman,

    Just dropping by to hope the 4th of July goes as well as possible for you and yours...though I really did not celebrate the 4th..but we went on a nice picnic with no one around and it was lovely...