The Retreat

What had seemed to be an adventure had become a nightmare. But Simonov's reaction to the nightmare was entirely positive. The very extremity of the situation clarified his mind. Only one thing mattered, to Russia and to him - the German army must be expelled. Even Valentina was no longer the most important thing in his life.

The next two poems became almost as famous as "Wait for me" and played an important part in the revival of Russian morale. As the Russian forces retreated through Smolensk province, they left the inhabitants behind, inevitably at the mercy of the German invaders. The old women promise that, like "soldatki" they will wait the army's return. "Soldatki" was a word used for the wives of conscript soldiers in Imperial Russia, when enlisting in the military was essentially a life-time affair - a soldatka is a faithful wife whose husband may never return. (Thanks to Dr Aleksei Kisselev for pointing this out).

Read on..