Simon Chachava & Grusha Vachnadze are the two principal characters in Bertold Brecht's art-as-politics masterpiece, The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Her simple steadiness & strength & his verbosity & equivocation are major motifs in this extraordinary play.
In my poem, Simon writes to Grusha after having received her acceptance of his marriage proposal moments before he went off to war.
SIMON CHACHAVA WRITES A LETTER TO GRUSHA VACHNADZE BEFORE THE BATTLE
I am a man of words, Grusha Vachnadze,
as well you know.Too many words, my mother would say.
They will weigh you down like stones in your pockets
in a world of deeds. Not stones, but coins, mother,
in a world of dreams, I would reply.
But I stray from purpose. Words as rolling jacks
thrown beneath the hooves of horses. Reason is unseated;
our best thoughts scattered.
Now. The young lady will recall our pledge in the burning city.
I fear I was about to expatiate again, there amongst
the spilled olive jars and strewn garments. But you held a finger up,
like a scolding nurse, and silenced me and told me yes, you would:
“The answer, Simon Chachava, is yes”, you said and, amidst
madness and flight, we bowed to each other deep and low,
like the venal cattlemasters who have fired the land and scoured
the mountains and brought me here to the very edge of battle.
Not a day passes - trudging in the wake of the infantry
with my paymaster’s coffers slung across the donkey’s back –
without your face like a Chinese lantern lighting my way.
Not a night passes – I, curled like a beetle larva (leaf or longhorn)
in my raindrum tent – without the image bold and clear of the lady
and her linen by the willows by the river and her foot, her ankle,
calf and thigh extended...
Grusha Vachnadze – it is said:
‘Light and shadow by turns, but love always’.
Now it’s dawn and across the valley Prince Kazbeki’s soldiers lift
their faces into the same rain that lashes ours. By tonight – by noon –
I might be just a tangle in the roots of the dead. Remember me, the man
of words not made for war who loved you suddenly with all his heart.