Ruzhany Palace

Nothing quite captures the imagination like a good, old-fashioned ruin. One can fill their hollow shells with as many fantastic stories as they wish, conjuring up a cocktail of questions that are just as entertaining to answer as they are to think of.

Belarus’s Ruzhany Palace was no exception to this. As we toured its dilapidated remains, we wondered at the idea that the ruins we were walking through used to be a center of bourgeois life in one of the largest and most populous empires of medieval Europe. Hallways once tread by kings and queens now bore a carpet of grass and dirt. Grand halls once famed for their literary collection and the world-renowned theater troupes that performed inside of them, now harbored a mini-forest, collections of bushes and twigs replacing the vast collections of books and art that once called them home. Blurring the line between the two extremes was a thick fog, concealing hidden corners and obscuring the blemished state of the palace. We found that, if we unfocused our eyes just enough, the imagination didn’t have to work too hard for an image of what the palace once was to come into focus.


Read on for a poem by Kate:

Nature’s Rule

I wander through
hollowed halls
covered in tapestries
woven by brittle vines
and decaying leaves.

My feet sunk
into plush carpet
of rich soil and fragrant grass.

I find myself
in a grand ballroom,
or perhaps a kitchen,
a whisper of stairs clings
to the crumbling brick wall.

The room
once closed off to the outside
is now open to the elements
to hold court.

Tangled branches
offer their winged subjects
places for shelter and rest.
Breezes loosen seeds
from dried flowers,
scattering them about the earth.
They take root, new life rising up
to join the old.

I watch through the fog,
marveling at the harmony
of nature’s law.


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