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Barentsburg: Centre


After the tough ascent of the long stair­ca­se from the har­bour up to cen­tral Barents­burg, you reach this place which neigh­bours the lar­ge Cul­tu­re House, a sou­ve­nir shop and the old can­teen (“Cto­lo­va­ya”). The lat­ter one is curr­ent­ly emp­ty and a bit of a ruin, but it is pro­tec­ted by law as it is one of very few struc­tu­ral remains in Barents­burg pre-dating the Second World War. Most of Barents­burg was des­troy­ed during a Ger­man attack in 1943.

The­re is a lar­ge pic­tu­re on the wall of the old can­teen show­ing a typi­cal ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry polar explo­rer. Some say that it is an idea­li­sed por­trait of Wla­di­mir Alex­an­d­ro­witsch Rus­a­nov (more about him in the sec­tion about the old museum/Culture House), while others point out that the­re is litt­le simi­la­ri­ty bet­ween the per­son in the pic­tu­re and Rus­a­nov. Any­way, the poem in the pic­tu­re is sup­po­sed to tell peo­p­le that the future of man­kind is some­whe­re far north, try­ing to con­vin­ce ear­lier inha­bi­tants of Barents­burg of the importance of their iso­la­ted pre­sence in the Arc­tic and their work. If it work­ed ..? Actual­ly, Rus­a­nov may not have been the right per­son to deli­ver such encou­ra­ging words to his later polar fel­lows: he dis­ap­peared in the Rus­si­an Arc­tic during his last (well, obvious­ly his last) expe­di­ti­on.

The Rus­si­an wri­ting is part of a poem by Robert Rozhdest­vens­kiy with the title “The arc­tic ill­ness”.

… значит, где б ты теперь
ни странствовал,
на пороге любой весны
будешь бредить полярными
будешь видет снежные сны.

The Eng­lish trans­la­ti­on as kind­ly pro­vi­ded by Ruzan­na Cher­na­ko­va is as fol­lows:

So whe­re­ver you are wan­de­ring now
On the ver­ge of any spring
You will rave about polar roads
You will be see­ing sno­wy dreams



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last modification: 2019-07-29 · copyright: Rolf Stange