This little package is a joy to own and to peruse. Two Winter Poems is a multi-media treasure in a box: an instrumental CD3″ inspired by the poems of Pushkin, the printed poems on delicate sheets, a Polaroid photo of Pushkin’s statue, a tiny winter painting, a fresh bag of Korean tea (you’ll need a strainer) and in my case, some pocket candy. Brew the tea, read the poems and their stories, play the music, watch the snow.
When Pushkin was in exile, he longed for his ancestral home, taking small comfort in the sights and sounds of nature, especially the extended winter. Through the frost the greenish fir-trees are exposed; and under ice, a river glitters. Pushkin recognizes the beauty that lies beneath his own personal conditions: the constancy of the seasons and the promise what what is frozen will not always be so. In like fashion, Fescal’s tracks form sedimentary layers of sound: surface drones with triumphant strings and chimes moving beneath the surface like sluggish winter fish. Pushkin contemplates the snow; Fescal contemplates Pushkin; we contemplate Fescal. And yet, Pushkin and snow are entry points for the listener as well. The poet has seen too much and may be hurt beyond healing, but he holds onto the possibility of solace. “Sing me of the tomtit hatching safe beyond the ocean blue … let us drink for grief, let’s drown it”, he writes in “Winter Evening”, which is also the sadder of Fescal’s two tracks. Glacial tonics travel through the speakers like vodka through an old man’s bones.
In “Winter Morning”, Pushkin pens similar words: “Sliding on the morning snow, dear friend, we’ll let our worries go”. Companionship and nature combine to form a poultice for the ailing soul. Both poems are written in the second person; whatever conditions he is facing, the venerable Russian is not facing them alone. This sweet blessing, this invaluable courtesy extends to the recipient of this package as well. Whether one orders the package from Russia or Korea, one receives it as a present. Food, drink, music, poetry, and art combine to provide a twinkling of encouragement, a reminder that we are not alone in the midst of cold and frost. Around the world, others are facing the same troubles, hoping to find an extra log for the fire and to share their warmth.
It’s heartening to see Pushkin statues appearing throughout the world (12 countries at last count); his life may have been short, but it was extremely well-lived. This tribute, which honors his life and words, is a beautiful contribution to his legacy. (Richard Allen)