Russian Sphinx

Alexander Blok's Scythians (1918) is, or should be, the single most precise ideological poem for any Russian. In the century since its creation, its significance has grown, and as of late, it's left me particularly restless. 

The photograph below is meant to illustration the following excerpt, in which the poet addresses Europe: 

O Ancient World, before your culture dies,
Whilst failing life within you breathes and sinks,
Pause and be wise, as Oedipus was wise,
And solve the age-old riddle of the Sphinx.


That Sphinx is Russia. Grieving and exulting,
And weeping black and bloody tears enough,
She stares at you, adoring and insulting,
With love that turns to hate, and hate—to love.
(Tr. Alex Miller)
О старый мир! Пока ты не погиб,
Пока томишься мукой сладкой,
Остановись, премудрый, как Эдип,
Пред Сфинксом с древнею загадкой!


Россия - Сфинкс! Ликуя и скорбя,
И обливаясь черной кровью,
Она глядит, глядит, глядит в тебя
И с ненавистью, и с любовью! 
(Александр Блок, СКИФЫ)