The Grand Inquisitor rendered into an Onegin Stanza

Christ came, and seen by all Seville,
distracted good folk from feeding sticks
to a hot fire under an iron grill,
where lay well-done, screaming heretics.
Amidst His miracles passed the Roman
Catholic cardinal, erect gnomon
to His shadow, Grand Inquisitor,
finger pointed at the visitor.
“Is it thou? Be silent! Off to prison!
For fifteen hundred years, we ate bread
blessed by thou. Really now; the dread
spirit of dessert supplies the frisson
de plaisir
we require. Enough tricks! We
prefer fire, crackling and whistling. Dixi!”


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    No one expects a Pushkinesque adaptation of The Grand Inquisitor!

    Once we’ve Oneginized the works of Dostoevsky, who’s next? I nominate Solzhenitsyn.

    • Matthew Lickona says

      Have you read Nguyen’s Oneginized Solzhenitsyn? It’s the hottest thing in poetry since Jobe and JOB’s Job job. You remember:

      There was a good man name of Job
      Who lamented his pre-frontal lobe
      Said he, “Without thought,
      I wouldn’t balk at God’s plot
      As it is, I can’t help but probe.”

  2. notrelatedtoted says

    As someone who is currently re-reading the Brothers Karamazov, I like this recent Dostoyevskian turn. I remember talking about the Grand Inquisitor in college – how it seems to come out of left field both thematically and story-wise. More than a decade later, it strikes as one of the few portions of the book where everyone isn’t FRANTIC AND YELLING AT EACH OTHER.

    • Matthew Lickona says

      True story: I bought a copy of Brothers K in a used bookstore instead of the one the college offered. When people began discussing The Grand Inquisitor passage, I was hopelessly confused. Because you see, the edition I purchased did not include that passage. Perhaps it was felt that it came from too far left afield.

      • notrelatedtoted says

        “Well, don’t take what Mr. Lickona says seriously. He’s reading that OTHER translation….”

  3. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    Far be it from me to second-guess a member of the Kollektiv, but — TAGGED WITH: CREEPY CATHOLICS, surely?

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