No people are uninteresting.
Their destinies are like histories of planets.
Nothing in them is not particular,
and no planet is like another.
And if someone lives in obscurity,
befriending that obscurity,
he is interesting to people
by his very obscurity.
Everyone has his own secret, private world.
In that world is a finest moment.
In that world is a tragic hour,
but it all is unknown to us.
And if someone dies
there dies with him his first snow,
and first kiss, and first fight.
He takes it all with him.
Yes, books and bridges remain,
and painted canvas and machinery,
yes, much is sentenced to remain,
but something really departs all the same!
Such is the law of the pitiless game.
It’s not people who die, but worlds.
We remember people, sinful and earthly.
But what did we know, in essence, about them?
What do we know of brothers, of friends?
What do we know of our one and only?
And about our own fathers,
knowing everything, we know nothing.
They perish. They cannot be brought back.
Their secret worlds are not regenerated.
And every time I want again
to cry out against the unretrievableness.
— Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “No people are…”, 1961
(Translated by Albert C. Todd)
Yevtushenko: The Collected Poems, 1952-1990
The Lip and the Heart.
One day between the Lip and the Heart
A wordless strife arose,
Which was expertest in the art
His purpose to disclose.
The Lip called forth the vassal Tongue,
And made him vouch—a lie!
The slave his servile anthem sung,
And brav’d the listening sky.
The Heart to speak in vain essay’d,
Nor could his purpose reach—
His will nor voice nor tongue obeyed,
His silence was his speech.
Mark thou their difference, child of earth!
While each performs his part,
Not all the lip can speak is worth
The silence of the heart.
— John Quincy Adams, poet and 6th President of the United States