Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Just Give Me My Freedom"

I have started to post a few of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's "prose poems" over on The Book Den and I invite you to visit there once in awhile and read through some. They are very moving, very well-crafted. Solzhenitsyn, of course, has been a master in many genres, especially the history and novel, but the short stories and "prose poems" published in a 1971 Farrar, Strauss and Giroux collection (Bantam's paperback version came in 1972) are special, but too little-known, gems.

Here is one of the shortest and yet most memorable of all, particularly when remembering it comes from the pen of one of the 2oth Century's most heroic freedom fighters.

The Puppy

In our back yard a boy keeps his little dog Sharik chained up, a ball of fluff shackled since he was a puppy.

One day I took him some chicken bones that were still warm and smelt delicious. The boy had just let the poor dog off his lead to have a run round the yard. The snow there was deep and feathery; Sharik was bound- ing about like a hare, first on his hind legs, then on his front ones, from one corner of the yard to the other, back and forth, burying his muzzle in the snow.

He ran towards me, his coat all shaggy, jumped up at me, sniffed the bones—then off he went again, belly-deep in the snow.

I don't need your bones, he said. Just give me my freedom .