Do Not Call Me, Father

As I talked about in this post, Nolan and I have been watching The World At War on DVD. This poem, read by Sir Laurence Olivier, particularly struck me as a father with a young son. It’s heartbreaking in its simplicity and emotion.

Do Not Call Me, Father
Anonymous, Soviet Union, 1942

(Son to father…)

Do not call me, father. Do not seek me.
Do not call me. Do not wish me back.
We’re on a route uncharted, fire and blood erase our track.
On we fly on wings of thunder, never more to sheath our swords.
All of us in battle fallen – not to be brought back by words.

Will there be a rendezvous? I know not. I only know we still must fight.
We are sand grains in infinity, never to meet, nevermore to see light.

(Father to son…)

Farewell then my son. Farewell then my conscience.
Farewell my youth, my solace, my one-and-only.

Let this farewell be the end of a story
Of solitude past which now is more lonely.
In which you remained barred forever from light,
From air, with your death pains untold.
Untold and unsoothed, never to be resurrected.
Forever and ever an 18 year old.

Farewell then.
No trains ever come from those regions,
Unscheduled and scheduled.
No aeroplanes fly there.

Farewell then my son,
For no miracles happen, as in this world
Dreams do not come true.

I will dream of you still as a baby,
Treading the earth with little strong toes,
The earth where already so many lie buried.

This song to my son, then, is come to its close.


14 thoughts on “Do Not Call Me, Father

  1. Thank you very much…my wife and I are going through the world at war VHS tapes for our second time. We just reviewed vol. 9 and wanted a printed copy and to give credit to the poet of; “Do Not Call Me, Father”. You gave us said information and we thank you.



  2. Pingback: Poem - Do not call me - World War 2 Talk

  3. Thanks for posting both of the translations for the poems. I had them once but lost them. Actually, there is a more “accurate” translation of Simonov’s “Wait for Me” , but I like the translation used in the World at War the best.
    I am a 6th grade Social Studies teacher teaching world geography, and will use one or both of these for my unit on Russia so that the children can understand the profound cultural impact the the Great Patriotic War had on the people of the USSR. I also do a WWII Soviet impression for living history and reenacting.


  4. I too have had this the first verse of this great poem echoing in my head for some time thanks to the wonderful TV series the ‘World at War’. It encapsulates for me all the sadness and futility of war. When will we ever learn.


  5. Pingback: 2010 in review « Dolce Domum

  6. Hi,
    I just researched this poem after hearing it in the world at war series.
    and I got to say I found it quite moving,
    The line about grains of sand in infinity was the line that will stick with me,
    but I also believe its not impossible for the same two grains of sand to meet again over the course of infinity.



  7. Sorry – Antokolsky (not Antokolovsky)
    Pavel Grigoryevich Antokolsky (Russian: Па́вел Григо́рьевич Антоко́льский, IPA: [ˈpavʲɪl ɡrʲɪˈɡorʲjɪvʲɪt͡ɕ ɐntɐˈkolʲskʲɪj] ( listen); July 1, 1896, St. Petersburg, Russia – October 9, 1978, Moscow, USSR) – a Russian poet, a nephew of Mark Antokolsky. His poem, “All we who in his name…” was written in 1956, the year of Nikita Khrushchev’s “secret speech” condemning Stalinism, and widely circulated among student groups in the 1950s.
    Pavel Antokolsky translated in Russian story by V. Hugo Le Dernier jour d’un condamne.
    The poem “Son” was written by the Russian Jewish poet Pavel Antokolsky (1896-1978) a year after the death of his 18-year-old son Lieutenant Vladimir Antokolsky, killed in action on June 6th,


  8. this is the real translation of this peom in world at war:
    – Don’t call me, the father, don’t touch,
    Don’t call me, oh, don’t call!
    We go the little-used road,
    We fly in fires and to blood.

    We fly and we hit крылами into clouds,
    The fighting fallen friends.
    So our group flying rallied,
    What back to return it is impossible for us.

    I don’t know, whether there will be an appointment.
    I know only that fight isn’t over.
    Both of us – grains of sand in a universe.
    More we won’t meet you.

    You in it remain. One. Released
    From light and air. In a flour of the last,
    Nobody told. Not revived.
    On eyelids of centuries the eighteen-year-old.

    Oh, as roads are far between us,
    Going in centuries and through
    Coastal those grassy spurs,
    Where the broken skull becomes dusty, ощерясь.

    Farewell. Trains don’t come from there.
    Farewell. Planes there don’t fly.
    Farewell. Any won’t come true a miracle.
    And dreams only dream us. Dream and thaw.
    To me dreams that you still the small child,
    Also it is happy, and legs you trample down the barefoot
    That earth where lies the buried so much.

    the whole poem is 10 chapters long
    here’s the link


  9. Here is an other link, for those who read Russian or study it. The parts of the poem that were recited in “World at War: Red Star” are excerpts from a much longer poem, written by a grieving father.

    Here is the grave of the author, for those that may be curious.

    Deepest thanks to all of the Russians and every allied nation who sacrificed so much.


  10. I’ve just seen the Red Star episode of World At War. This haunting poem, read by Olivier, epitomised the cruel and wasteful nature of all wars. I love poetry; this one was like being stabbed by a beautifully crafted knife.


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