Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, known as KR.
Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, known as KR.

In magical semi darkness of April night
You, my verse so dreamily glorious
From the depths of my soul were wrenched again

At blossoming earth I glance
And, in delight of spring, of night, I listen…
What silence, what wonder!

21 April, 1906

Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich
Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich

The revolutionary terror carried away Konstantin Konstantinovich’s childhood friend – Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich. They were not similar to each other either by personality or political outlooks, nor proximity to the throne. Sergei Alexandrovich was considered the advocate of autocracy, one of the closest advisors of the last two emperors, while Konstantin Konstantinovich was never taken seriously at the high court – being a poet, an actor, and a liberal.
But the ties of childhood friendship turned out to be stronger than the difference in titles, interests and political beliefs of the two cousins.

Konstantin Konstantinovich often visited Sergei Alexandrovich and his wife Elizaveta Feodorovna (Ella) in their manor outside of Moscow, Iliyinskoe. Here, it was as if they returned to their childhood, forgetting that they are now grown men and grand dukes.

“… We played tag, and cat and mouse, raced and then relaxed in the woods, under the large evergreens”. (19 September, 1884).

“The Village of Iliyinskoe! Finally I am here, so far from the stuffy St Petersburg, here in the heart of Mother Russia, amidst the boundless spring nature” (6 May, 1887)

Grand Duke Sergei and his wife, Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna (Ella)
Grand Duke Sergei and his wife, Grand Duchess Elizaveta Feodorovna (Ella)

A Letter to Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich

… Merciless fate
Separates us once more for a while,
Again you and I are crestfallen,
Deprived of each other.

Towards the north, so gloomy and distant
Sad destiny dragged you away;
For a kingdom of snow, winters and storms
You exchanged magnificent south.

Bliss of the days bygone
Will you ever find in your native land,
Or in your passionate heart all around
Will you face only sorrow?
You cannot resurrect years bygone!
You cannot bring back times past!

Do you remember Strelna, dear Pavlovsk?
Do you remember Tsarskoe Selo?
And our gloomy autumn,
Now bitter cold, now warm?
And our happiness and troubles?
And our lengthy conversations
In the evening hours, just the two of us
Beside the samovar and tea?

While outside so dismally
The autumn wind was howling,
Rain whipping the windowpane,
And we, often incessantly
Chatted all night long,
Until dawn.

That precious time has passed!
No one dear to my heart remains, –
And you were left with a burden
Of memories of the years bygone.

But you, forgetting your bitter lot,
Like a pole bearer in a battle field,
Walk forward with your banner,
Go forward, and be courageous,

Toward a high goal with a strong will,
Aspire your passionate soul,
Aspire to the [???] of death
And in this life’s plight
Amidst all the failings, evil and deceit
Earn your happiness in battle!

3 October, 1881


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