“Russia cannot be understood with the mind” by Fedor Tyutchev, translated and analyzed

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Today is a verse called “Russia cannot be understood with the mind”. It was written in 1866, by an experienced diplomat, F. I. Tyutchev who spent a significant part of his life abroad and knew European countries very well.

This verse is often quoted, particularly nowadays, and its first line has become a catch phrase to denote a special Russian path of development. The Russians are reproached for not being able to formulate their national idea but this verse gives an answer to this. The national Russian idea lives in the souls of all Russians and cannot be expressed in words, or in some kind of logical systems.

“One can only believe in Russia” was written five years after the decree on the abolition of serfdom when the most advanced technologies and ideas coexisted with centuries of impassability, poverty and illiteracy. And that is this contrast that gave Tyutchev reason to assert that the development of Russia always proceeds according to its own special laws, which are inaccessible to the logical analysis of a European. Even the Russians themselves do not understand these laws, giving everything to the will of God, and over the centuries, a unique national character has developed in Russia. The main feature of a Russian person is to act not in accordance with the requirements of the mind, but to follow their hearts.

Федор Тютчев — Умом Россию не понять: СтихFedor Tyutchev – Russia cannot be understood with the mind: Verse
Умом Россию не понять,Russia cannot be understood with the mind,
Аршином общим не измерить:Or measured with a standard yardstick:
У ней особенная стать —She has a unique destiny –
В Россию можно только верить.In Russia, one can only believe.

I hope you enjoyed this verse as much as I did and that it brings you some understanding of what is happening now.

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