First snow, first kiss, first battle Ч everything.
ItТs true that bridges, paintings, books, machines
Remain, along with other things,
ItТs true that many things are here to stay,
But something is to perish anyway.
Such is the rule of game, in other words,
ItТs people that decease, not their worlds.
We have remembrances of people, well, then
What did we actually know about them?
What do we know of our brothers, friends,
Of our only one, whom heaven sends?
And, knowing our own father on the whole,
We donТt know anything about him at all.
Thus people pass away, and they will not return.
Their inmost worlds will never be reborn.
And every time my heart just screams
About this irretrievable course of things.
They intimidate and slash us,
They reduce our souls to ashes,
Put out in us the light of God.
Should we our pride abandon,
Like grey mire we'll be found then
Under coach wheels on the road.
Our body we can cage in
So that it cannot engage in
Flying off above the sky.
But our soul will break away,
Somehow it will find a way
To God Almighty it will fly.
Life from death I don't distinguish,
Someone dares death diminish.
Death is often more fragile.
Teach me, oh, my Lord Almighty,
Should death come before me quietly,
How to give a placid smile.
Help me, pray, my Lord,
To bravely face the world,
Hide not stars from visions.
Thou canst grant, I bet,
A little piece of bread,
Crumbs to feed the pigeons.
Our body may get cold, or
Be unhealthy, burn and moulder
And then perish in the shades,
While our soul does not surrender,
After death there is remainder:
Something more than just ourselves.
We remain as bits and pieces:
Some as books or sighing whispers,
Some as children, or a song.
Even in those bits, however,
Somewhere we live for ever,
Though we die, we get along.
What will you, my soul, tell God,
What will bring you to His threshold?
Will you be from Hell released?
We all have a sinful moment,
But mostly he fears atonement
Whose transgression is the least.
Help me, pray, my Lord,
To bravely face the world,
Hide not stars from visions.
Thou canst grant, I bet,
A little piece of bread,
Crumbs to feed the pigeons.
Apart from that fine, charming lady
that has a clavichord at the ready
to play majestically scales,
generally, a troubadour
has got a hidden paramour,
a stupid maid with a loving face.
He is ashamed of her a little,
but she's got legs that will beat all
and make up for repute and brains.
The stupid maid may not look pleasant
but she is touching and complaisant
when he a casual visit pays.
She takes her skirt off, understanding
the troubadour's pangs of loving,
responding to his acts of cuddling,
sometimes she blushes, in a state.
And she obeys him in excitement...
HeТs pleased. When sheТs beside him
he is himself, which makes him great.
and numb when seized with feeling,
we just restrain it, more or less;
we are incapable of living,
incapable of facing death.
Wishing to save this world of ours
make friends with rascals we must not,
itТs just like entТring a hostile house
where we have to fire a shot.
What shall we do Ч just hit the target
or let them bring us tea on a tray,
leave the revolver undischarged,
say our good-byes and go away?
And, breathing freely, think it over
and find an instance, as Сn excuse,
and, turning round, throw the revolver
into the water, still unused.
*** Human life in this century
very smal value, as it were...
Beneath the wings of the dove of Picasso
thereТs a war going on everywhere.
We give a hug to our kids in a hurry,
and we hastily kiss our wives,
and we leave them to fight in the war of
human passions, emotions and vibes.
We fight with the earth and the heaven,
with sands, heavy snowfalls and hails,
we fight with dishonest behaviour,
with our creditors, fools and ourselves.
When we die you should not be ingenuous
in believing itТs a natural death,
heart attack or some serious illness,
no, we die in this big war of nerves.
Every day, standing close by the windows,
our sweethearts, like soldiersТ wives,
watch their husbands, guilty though guiltless,
go to join in these rigorous fights.
*** Snow flakes are falling
sliding round and round...
I would keep living... always...
but I probably can't.
Human souls fade dissolving
and leaving no trace,
like snowflakes theyТre going
from earth into space.
Snow flakes are falling...
Some day I shall go...
About death I'm not worrying
I'm mortal, I know.
I do not believe in
any miracles, no,
and IТll never be living,
unlike snow, anymore.
A sinner, I'm thinking
who on earth I have been,
what is most I've been keen on,
in this world I live in.
It's Russia that I love so
with my backbone, my blood,
its rivers when iced, or
when lively they flood.
its spirit of houses,
its spirit of pines,
its Pushkin and Razin,
its old men, so kind.
And in my hours of worry
I didn't take it too bad.
I mayТve lived in a flurry,
I've lived for my land.
Deep in heart, feeling anxious,
I hope against hope
that I did help my Russia
to the extent I could cope.
It may once and for ever
forget me, with ease,
but I wish it would never
ever cease to exist.
Snowflakes are falling,
as they do at all times,
times of Pushkin and Razin
and the time that yet comes.
Sliding like crystal beads,
light and bright as can be,
flakes wipe out the footprints
left by others and me.
I do not believe in
If Russia keeps living
I'll keep living as well.
Having resigned, the artist put on,
decorously, a leather apron,
and took the title of a smith.
It was for fun, not ostentation
that on his head, in exaltation,
he put a heavy hammered wreath.
A stout man and quite unbalanced,
the artist happened to drink hard,
he was the guardian of turrets,
a zealot with the loving heart.
He rose against the brutal order
when the Pskov turrets at the border,
were just disgraceful heaps of stones,
by love of Russian craft-work governed
clad in unseen brocaded garment,
he would cast pearls of pros and cons.
He'd say the turrets were neglected,
unflagged and rather devastated,
looking like coffins made of stone.
Catching the pen-pushers on porches
he'd lecture them on the importance
of iron ensigns and so on.
лRag-flags are bad! Ч the artist argued.
We have our laundries all surcharged,
whereas ensigns are made of flame.
They're hammered carefully and molded,
they last for ages, forged unfolded,
without a single crease on them.
Livonian foes would sneeze inhaling
the smoke of forge shops, badly smelling,
which boded ill as a bad sign,
when from a stubborn piece of iron
whose quality was just divine
the forefathers forged an ensign.
That's how our land was being founded,
when, to wild shouts on all sides,
the hostile arrows just rebounded
from our tiny little ensigns.
The iron flag is not the same as
the timid weather-vane that tremors
and in the wind so humbly waves.
We have them but they don't avail us,
our Motherland, my dear fellows,
needs iron flags, not weather-vanes!╗
The artist argued., brave and fearless,
descendant of the race of heroes,
a fighter and a bearded lot,
he went through pen-pushes' answers
whose pens were like czarist lances, Ч
his own weapon was his thought.
And now exerting every effort
the high rank guardian, dressed in rags,
was hammering a furious leopard,
and a gracious deer, Ч iron flags.
And smiling blissfully, so curious,
some Japanese and other tourists,
young and old people from all sides,
and even bureaucratic tyrants
admire ancient Pskovian turrets
and the victorious ensigns.
Thank all the guardians of Russia!
Thank their skillful, masterly hand.
Like iron ensigns, never crashing,
they're keeping watch on Motherland.
And, standing by the ruins of panels,
in hope of glory and good times
I hear the clank of forge-shop anvils:
it's Russia, hammering out ensigns.
city in the North Western part of Russia (with the population of 200.000),
dating back to the 10th century, known for its historical monuments
of architecture: church buildings, chapels, monasteries, cathedrals and
fortresses, among them are the famous Mirozh Monastery, the Kremlin and
the Izborsk fortress with its turrets and iron ensigns (Alec Vagapov)
*** I'm burying my friend, I suppose,
It's a secret I never disclose.
Others think that he's still alive,
Others know that he has a wife,
that we still have got friendly ties,
for we dine out together sometimes.
And I don't want to tell anyone
that my friend is a living dead man.
It's not cleanness I'm talking with,
I'm talking to a void and filth
It's not friendship that's raised a glass
not openness, Ч emptiness has.
I do not condemn what you do,
I'm silent, I'm just burying you.
Well, what's that ? Do I get it right?...
After all, no one has died,
and I haven't lived long as yet
But so many friends are dead.
Our children, too, are
They, too, can be pretentious.
A war they see in films
is ice-cream on a tray,
They have respect for rank,
they're callously tenacious
and smart at pushing others
out of their way.
And when I see in them
the germ of cruel habits
I certainly do not
blame children anyway
that sometimes they can be
wild wolves, not humble rabbits
although their food is not
yet that of beasts of pray.
It's not an old yes-man
but it's a little demon,
a seven year old sneak
that scares me most of all.
My son, be what you want, -
a football player even., -
but be a decent man!
And that will settle all.
You do not have to be
Ashamed of daddy, dear,
You will not understand
Until you're old and wise:
it 's out of despair,
and it 's out of fear
that father lied about
the children being liars...
Clinging to the window pane
he's waiting for someone, in vain.
I dip my hand into his hair,
I'm also waiting, as it were.
You do remember, doggie, dear,
a woman used to live in here.
But who on earth was she to me?
My sister, or my wife, maybe?
Sometimes I think that it could be
my daughter who needs help from me.
She's away. You're quiet, my dear.
There won't be other women here.
My dear dog, you're nice, I think,
but it's a pity you don't drink.
Women, you are certainly the weaker vessels!
It's your nature, you are built that way.
And the statues of you with a sheaf of hazel
are not really you, I dare say.
When I see you bent over the railing,
working with a heavy iron crow,
it just breaks my heart, it's passed all bearing.
How can you endure it? Ч I don't know.
And the women, armed with crow-bars, shout:
лLook, the man feels sorry for us! Very nice!╗
And mischievous, smiling eyes stick out
from beneath their kerchiefs, bright blue eyes.
Women tend to flood geology these days.
Why does it appeal to you? Ч I wish I knew.
It's ascribed to us, not you frail females,
and the thick wild forests are for men, not you.
Yet you bite your lip and go, defying
Wrinkles, weather-beaten hands and tan...
As you get a light from brands of camp-fire
You will crack a joke to cheer up the men.
Nervous housewives, at times you feel resentful
grumbling angrily over the house-chores:
washing, cooking, cleaning up et cetera...
Kitchen work is a hard on you of course.
But along with the exceeding nervousness
which at times makes tears break trough
there is so much majesty and tenderness
so much genuine heroism in you !
I do not believe in weakness of you women,
you are not like that from birth, I know.
Women's womanhood is doubly feminine
for your doughty and strength do make it so.
I adore you, women, tenderly, devoutly
but I look with enviousness on you.
women are the best of men, undoubtedly.
You may rest assured for it's true.
Which of contemporary writers
is most acute and up-to-date?
Perhaps, as a judge I am not righteous, Ч
it's Shakespeare, I estimate.
And, like a wave, the theme of Hamlet
dashes upon one's temples now
that fools and men of perfect talent
are puzzled and confused, somehow.
And wringing their hands but slowly
to sounds of jet whistle and drone
trying to catch a train or trolley
crowds of Hamlets are on the run.
The voice of actors drown humbly
in roaring storms and trouble sea
when the whole world to-day, like Hamlet,
decides: лTo be or not to be╗.
of love with you... It's such a trivial story,
as trivial as life, as trivial as death.
I'll break off the romance without feeling sorry,
and smashed be my guitar! Why make pretence at length?
Our shaggy ugly dog does not appear to catch us,
he doesn't understand what we have got in mind
for when I let him in at your front door he scratches,
and when you let him in he'll come to scratch at mine.
The way he runs about, he can go quite mental...
You sentimental dog, you're too young, my friend.
Me, I shall not let myself be sentimental,
I'd just prolong the torture by putting off the end.
Sentimentality's a crime and not just human weakness.
When you give in again, you promise once again
and try to stage a show, albeit without willingness,
choosing a silly name, something like "Love Regained".
True love should be protected, kept safe from the beginning
against the ardent "never!" and childish "once for all!".
Don't promise! Ч the train whistle's in our ears ringing,
Don't promise! Ч comes the mumbling from the wire call.
The heavy smoky clouds as well as damaged foliage
have many times admonished and warned us ignor'nt snobs:
excessive optimism is caused by lack of knowledge,
and we should draw the line at cherishing big hopes.
The vergers had good sense, they checked the chains for heaviness
before putting them on, they were wise enough
to give the earth instead of promising the heavens,
give instant love instead of eternal love above.
When we're in love it's not humane to say "I love you".
It's hard to hear, escaping the same lips, afterward
the world's deceitful fullness will be an empty world.
We shouldn't make a promise for love is not compliance.
Why do we clothe our lies into a wedding dress ?
A vision is all right until it melts like ice.
It's better not to love if love eventually ends.
Our poor little dog whines, getting puzzled, maddened,
dashing from door to door, you should have seen him prance!..
For having ceased to love you I do not ask your pardon,
I ask to pardon me for having loved you once.
sincere and have no pretence
when you keep silent looking tense and bitter,
you are like silence that, to all intents,
has no pretence in a burnt down city.
This city's gone for ever, it's your past.
You almost never laughed while living there,
you 'd be engrossed in sewing or in oblivion lost,
now you'd be calm, now you'd break out and flare.
To get along you did your double best
but, turning down all the living beings,
the city made you sad and feel oppressed
with gloomy contours of its buildings.
All houses in it were under lock and key.
There was some wicked subtlety about it.
It was all broken, which was plain to see,
and hated those who weren't broken hearted.
And then one night, without much remorse,
you set it all to fire, recoiling from the sparkles.
I was the first one whom you ran across
when, fearing the flame, you shrank into the darkness.
You trembled, as I took you by the hand,
and cuddled up to me, submissive, blushing,
you didn't love me yet and didn't understand
but were grateful to me for compassion.
So we set out... Where did we flee?
We took a random path and didn't care
but now and then you would look back to see
your burning past enveloped in a glare.
It was incinerated. But there is
one thing that torments me and makes me anxious
as if bewitched, you cherish memories
of what is now just dust and ashes.
You're by my side, and you are not...
Have you deserted me, I wonder?
A torch of light in hand, all lost in thought,
about the ashes of the past you wander.
Why long for it? It is deserted, dark!
This magic power of the past! My Goodness!
You didn't love it, and were glad to see its back,
but somehow you have come to love its ruins.
The dust and ashes are quite powerful things.
They have a mystery of their own.
And, like a child, the arsonist sheds tears
over what she has zealously burnt down.
The house swayed
and creaked a choral hymn composing;
it was a burial service chorale for you and me.
The creaking house felt that we were not just dozing
we were dying slowly, unobtrusively.
лWait, do not die!╗ Ч a neigh resounded in the meadow
and echoed in the howl of dogs and fairy wood;
yet we were dying to each other and for ever
which was the same as dying to the whole wide world.
We didn't want to die! A bird pecked in the pine wood,
a hedgehog ran around in the grass beneath,
and like a shaggy dog, the black, wet night flowed onward
holding a water-lily, a star, between its teeth.
The darkness breathed the smell of raspberries through shutters;
behind my back I saw Ч without turning round Ч
my worn-out sweetheart sleep quietly with Plato's
spiritual girl-friend, a sister she had found.
I thought about marriages being made in heaven,
about how mean we all liars and traitors were:
I used to love you, dear, like thousands of brethren,
and like as many foes I drove you to despair.
Yes, you have changed a lot. Your angry look is arduous;
you sneer bitterly, as you put out a claw.
Isn't it we ourselves who turn our beloved ones
to kinds of hateful creatures we can't love anymore ?
The fount of eloquence is obviously worthless
when wasted on a row, a stupid petty scene,
I wanted to bring happiness to all the earthlings
but couldn't make it with a single human being.
Yes, we were dying but I couldn't just believe in
the end of you and me, the end of both of us.
Our love had not yet died, it was alive and breathing
the trace of it imprinted upon her looking glass.
The house swayed and creaked amidst the nettle, stinging,
as if it were offering restraint and will of life.
We were dying there but we were still living.
We loved each other still which meant we were alive.
Some day ( oh, God forbid, I still hope for salvation )
when I fall out of love and when I really die
my flesh will make a point, with hidden exultation,
of whispering at nights: лso you are alive!╗
Belated man of wisdom in our world of passions,
I'll come to realize: my flesh does tell a lie;
I'll tell myself: лI'm dead. My love is turned to ashes.
I used to be in love. I used to be alive.╗
At times of seeming
don't waste your energy in vain
hanging your head in face of danger,
jumping for joy, as if insane.
When you see someone being trampled
and torn to pieces, to jeers and cries,
don't make a fuss about the wrangle,
do not make much of it, be wise.
Our age is known to be wayward
but all its jerks and jumps are vain
for history flows smoothly onward,
and harmony it will maintain.
And that's what everybody knows about:
amidst the ballyhoo and noise
an augury is never loud
and prophecy has a low voice.
The pastors claimed that Galileo
was an unreasonable man,
but time has made it crystal clear
that lack of reason is a good sign.
A scholar from that same era
who was as smart as Galileo
knew that the earth was turning round
but he'd his family on hand.
Riding a coach, with near and dear,
after he'd done the traitor's act
he thought of making a career
but he had ruined it, in fact.
Nobody wished to risk, for knowledge,
but scholar Galileo did,
the greatest man he was acknowledged...
лCareerist╗ he was indeed!
Long live the notion of career
if it implies making the grade,
like the career of Shakespeare,
Homer, Pasteur, Tolstoy the Great.
I wonder why they were trodden.
A gift will always be a gift!
The slanderers are now forgotten
while those who were slandered live.
Those who explored the stratosphere,
the docs that perished for the good, Ч
they were лseeking a career╗,
and I should like to follow suit!
Their holy faith in their idea
inspires me with fortitude.
So I'm following a career
without trying to follow it.
THE CATKIN FROM AN ALDER-TREE
The instant a catkin
falls down on my palm from an alder
or when a cuckoo
gives a call, through the thunder of train,
attempting to give explanation to living
and find it impossible
to understand and explain.
to a speck of a star-dust is trivial,
but certainly wiser
than being affectedly great,
and knowing one's smallness
is neither disgrace nor an evil,
it only implies our knowledge
of greatness of fate.
The alder-tree catkin is light
and so airy and fluffy;
you blow it away, Ч
and the world will go wrong overnight.
Our life doesn't seem
to be petty and trifling
for nothing in it is a trifle
and nothing is slight.
The alder-tree catkin
is greater than any prediction,
and he who has quietly broken it
won't be the same.
We cannot change everything now
by our volition,
the world tends to change anyway
with the change of ourselves.
And so we transform
to assume quite a different essence
and go on a voyage
to a desolate land, far from home,
we don't even notice
and don't realize our presence
on board an entirely different ship,
in a storm.
And when you are seized
with a feeling of hopeless remoteness,
away from the shores
where the sunrise amazed you at dawn,
my dear good friend, don't despair
and please don't be hopeless, Ч
believe in the black frightening harbors,
so strange and unknown.
A place, when remote, may be frightening
but not when it's near.
There's everything there:
eyes, voices, the lights and the sun...
As you get accustomed
the creak of the shadowy pier
will tell you that there're can be more
piers and harbors than one.
Your soul clears up,
with no malice against the conversion.
Forgive all your friends
that betrayed you, or misunderstood.
Forgive your beloved one
if you don't enjoy her affection,
allow her to fly off your palm
like a catkin, for good.
And don't put your trust in a harbor
that gets too officious.
An endless and harbourless vast
is what you must have on the brain.
If something should keep you pinned down
just get off the hinges
on a lasting disconsolate voyage once again.
лWhenever will he come to reason?╗ Ч
some people may grumble.
You don't have to worry,
you know that one cannot please all.
The saying that лall things must pass╗
is a treacherous babble
if all things must pass,
then it isn't worth living at all.
What can't be explained
isn't really absolute nonsense.
So don't be embarrassed
by revaluation of things, Ч
There won't be a fall nor a rise
in the prices of our life since
the price of a thing of no value
remains as it is
...Now why do I say it?
Because a cuckoo, silly liar,
that I'm going to live a long life
Now why do I say it?
Well, there is an alder-tree flower,
a catkin, which, quivering,
rests on my palm as if live...
You may have doubts,
She lived a long, long time ago
with an Egyptian pharaoh,
she slept with him, he loved her beastly,
but she, in fact, belonged to history.
He suffered from the wretched feeling
that his possessing her was seeming.
bombastic, pompous features
He thought of his imperial duty,
but Avicenna once asserted
that in the face of genuine beauty
a ruler's power is imperfect.
It made the pharaoh feel inferior...
he would look austere;
thinking about it he'd frown
and throw the crumpled napkin down.
He had an army, troops and chariots,
while she had eyes and long black eyelids,
a starlit forehead, nice as heck
and an amazing curve of neck.
And when they floated in procession
the onlookers' all attention
was focused, which they were aware of,
on Nefertiti, not the pharaoh.
When he caressed her he was moody,
at times he'd treat her rather rudely
for he was conscious of fragility
of power, beside her femininity.
beliefs were horribly collated,
but through events and through ideas
that had deceived the ages
her neck stretched out, it appears,
until it's reached the present stages.
We see her
in a schoolboy's drawing
and on a broach on women's clothing.
She frees some women from foreboding,
she's always fresh,
and never boring.
And, like before, some feel inferior
beside the grace of her exterior.
We fuss about, full of care...
Well, she's there:
through cares, faces,
she stretches out her neck, as ever.
You may have doubts,
Should the clover
rustle in the meadow
or a pine-tree in the wind should sway
I will stop and listen and remember
that I, too, will pass away some day.
When I see a boy, a pigeon-fancier,
standing on the roof, right on the brink,
I believe that death is not the answer,
dying is a ruthless thing, I think.
Death is what we ought to be aware of.
We shall perish but our world survives;
those who will replace the dead, however,
cannot substitute for their lives.
It was not in vain that I was trodden,
I have learnt my lesson, as I find.
What I bore mind I have forgotten,
what I did forget I bear in mind.
Now I know that snow is very special,
and the hills are greener, when you're young,
and I know that life implies affection,
for we live because we love someone.
Now I know that secretly I happened
to be bound to so many lives,
and I know that man is so unhappy
just because for happiness he strives.
Happiness, at times, is rather silly,
takes of things a vacant, flippant view,
whereas trouble stares, frowning grimly,
hence, its power of seeing trough and through.
Happiness is distant and unreal.
Trouble sees the earth in its true light.
Happiness has somewhat of betrayal,
trouble will be always by man's side.
It was thoughtless of me to be happy,
but, thank God, it failed me anyway.
I desired the impossible to happen,
and I'm glad it didn't come my way.
People, humankind, I love you dearly,
for a happy life as ever you may strive.
As for me, now I 'm happy, really,
because happiness I do not seek in life.
What I want now is the taste sweetness
of the clover on my lips to stay,
and I want to have my little weakness:
my unwillingness to perish right away.
а In indiscriminate temptation
which fills our minds in daily life
one day, without contemplation,
we come to think that we're in love.
We later come at the conclusion
and see what we once failed to see
that our лlove╗ was a delusion,
it wasn't what it seemed to be.
But there are tremors in the line,
and the emotions are sincere.
We were deceived, Ч well, never mind,
the inspiration's always real.
It may dispirit us or gladden ,
if only it would come to pass!
It's not our sentiments that matter
but what they generate in us.
tell lies to children, who are trusting,
do not convince them of a lying word,
do not assure them that there is nothing
except for peace and quiet in the world.
Do not deceive the kids, by any means,
by building for them castles in the air.
Don't try to teach them to believe in things
which we do not believe in, as it were.
He who deludes a child will make him isolated,
confuse on purpose honor with disgrace.
Let children see both what will happen later
and what, in fact, is going on these days.
A nice sweet lie is poison in the ladle.
Don't pardon puppies a mendacious whine.
and our kids will not forgive us later
for our being forgiving down the line.
You are big
and courageous at loving.
As for me, at each step I get shy.
I shall not do you harm, oh, my darling,
and I can't do you good, though I try.
you're leading me down
through a wood with no path and no way.
In waist-high wildflowers we are drowned,
лWhat flowers are they?╗
All my skills are quite useless and shaky.
I don't know what to do
You are tired.
You want me to take you
in your arms. There! I've taken you now.
лThere are birds in the wood,
can't you hear?
Can't you see,
the sky is so blue?
Now, come on,
carry me somewhere, dear!╗
but where shall I carry you?...
You haven't given
all my letters yet
and haven't thrown out the trash,
but you're receding
like a floe
that breaks in two and crashes, in a flash.
A sinless woman, you're asleep,
and seem to be so close,
within my reach,
the grinding sound
of the deadly white starched bed-sheet fills the breach.
You are receding,
and I am frightened that you're doing it
as slowly as you can.
And like my soul
from my body,
from a living man.
You're taking all away:
so many common years
and both of our sons.
And like the living skin
you're getting stripped,
ripped off my living bones.
The pain of separation
cuts to pieces,
breaks my heart and all,
along the crack of souls
which almost have been turned into a single whole.
This almost insurmountable лalmost╗
Ч may it be cursed and plagued!
or almost has been crucified
Like a piranha,
leaving the skeleton behind,
with ease and skill,
have trivialities devoured
one more love, against our will.
it is like plague, unsafe,
and love that was betrayed
commits a treachery
Some kind of howling thing,
puts out a claw
to catch at kids.
is a monster
that hungrily its own children eats.
and eating up the best of years of yours
I bring apologies
and beg you, please,
don't eat me in response.
There is a trivial saying
that a woman has a present but no past.
I am your past,
so I do not exist
I am my own dust.
I'm filled with horror
carrying, my remains to the unfriendly bed.
It isn't easy for a non-existent man in our world
not to be dead.
I am your child,
revive me, if you please.
Do mold me,
from all remains
my instantaneous and eternal star,
perchance, a loving one,
having forgotten how to love...
for good, by far?
We shouldn't wait for thanks from people.
Big is the coffin without flowers in it.
Filth will be washed away with spittle
when on the coffin haughtily they spit.
And yet we'd rather be disliked and envied,
than grab and have it for our very own,
or open mouth on the sly and strain it
attempting to suppress the sluggish yawn.
The censorship we had was like asphyxiation,
it's been kicked out, it appears, passed away,
but now we have indifference suffocation,
a censor much more frightening, in a way.
We're cheating ourselves, is it not silly?
It's been acknowledged for innumerable years:
a nation has at its disposal, willy-nilly,
the kind of literature that it deserves.
As dense as taiga trees is our ignorance.
Excuse us, Russian literature, don't
be strict to us... For our indifference
with your indifference do not respond.
My ma is getting old,
to my dismay.
She rarely gets up at the break of day
on hearing the rustle of the paper heaps
with no consoling news she badly needs.
The air is getting bitter with each breath,
the floor is getting slippy like iced earth,
the kerchief on her shoulders, once so light,
is getting heavier, as if out of spite.
When she walks quietly along the street
the snow falls gently, softly, to her feet,
the rain licks, like a pup, her boots and gown,
the wind takes care not to knock her down.
And going through the restless times of late,
she has been getting lighter, losing weight,
and I am terribly afraid that someone may
blow her off Russia, like a fluff, some day.
How can I have the living water then
from mother's feeble footprint, to ease pain?
My darling, I should ask you, will you, please,
be like my ma, to some extent, at least?
for if you go away,
transfigured, you will leave your own essence.
Once and for all your own self you will betray
and that will be dishonest, downright treacherous.
Don't go...You can depart quite easily, of course.
But you and I will not revive. We wouldn't.
Death has a an extraordinary drawing force,
and dying, even for a moment, is imprudent.
Don't go... Forget the shade in our way.
Love is for two. A third one doesn't count.
We shall be flawless on the Judgement Day
when trumpeters call us for account.
We have atoned for our sin... Don't say good-bye.
No one can censure us or make an accusation,
and we deserve to be forgiven by
all those whom we have hurt, with no intention.
Don't vanish... You can do it in no time.
How can we subsequently see each other?
And can there be the double, yours and mine?
Exclusively in our kids, I gather.
Give me your hand... Don't disappear, please.
You've got me on your palm engraved distinctly.
The frightening truth about final, last love is
that it's the fear of loss, not love, to put it strictly.
I donТt give up, although
I do give in.
Of late I havenТt written anything,
and frightening dumbness, giving me the creeps,
descends to rest on my worn out lips.
But lying here in my bed I hear
the snow-storm whisper something in my ear,
I also hear in the snow-storm heave
the trams a-ringing, each over its own grief.
The bits of posters try to whisper, too,
the roofs attempt to shout a word a two,
the water in the pipes attempts to sing,
the wires mumble that they canТt do anything.
Likewise, the human beings, when in grief,
cannot tell others everything, to have relief.
When they are all alone they just keep mum
or mumble something as if they were numb.
IТm at my desk again, my work is under way.
It feels like giving them a chance to have their say.
To speak for others sharing their grieves, Ч
thatТs what the gist of self expression is.
OF THE POWER LOVING MAN
to L. Paley
Perhaps, all is power struggle in this world:
flirt, friendship, passion and a solemn word.
A rooster is engaged in power struggle.
The rule of nature is scientistsТ goal.
Without power struggle nature canТt but fall.
Over control of sand-box children wrangle.
Through centuries all poets, in the main,
have looked on power struggle with disdain
but tried with moral principles to bungle.
I do not want a post from anyone,
however, I am a power-loving man:
for power over peopleТs hearts I struggle.
All has its limits in this world of ours:
love, patience, heart and mind, and human powers,
as well as seeming endlessness of vastness.
You, poet, shouldnТt be tormented by
the limit of your strength and years that fly.
ItТs not a cause for shame and fussiness.
A scoundrel may sneer in your face
that as a writer you have seen your days.
You keep away from it, just donТt believe it.
YouТve reached the limit but youТre strong.
To say that talent is unlimited is wrong.
ItТs human baseness that has got no limit.
She said: лHe will be sleeping well all night╗, Ч
as she arranged her sonnyТs bed with care;
and as she clumsily switched off the light
her dress slipped smoothly down on the chair.
We didnТt want to talk about love.
She whispered something, slightly drawling,
and, like a grape, her лr╗Тs were rolling
behind her white teeth: down and above.
лAbout my life I didnТt care a bit,
and then, all of a sudden, it fell out!..
A worn-out man-like toiler, I turned out
to be a woman. Funny, isnТt it?╗
I thought I had to thank her in some way.
In search of safety in a helpless body
I found shelter, like a wolf at bay,
in snowy bed-clothes of my female buddy.
But, like a hunted down wolf, forlorn,
she talked my head off whispering in tears,
she was obliged to me, which made me burn
with chilling shame of her sincerest cheers.
I should besiege her with my rhymes of praise,
get shy and blush, turn pale and redden...
Instead, I have her thanks! What a disgrace!
A woman! thanks a man! for fondling! Heaven!
How could it happen? How can it be done?
Without thinking of the essence of the woman
we have removed her. We have brought her down
to the equality with the male human.
In human history itТs an amazing phase,
prepared by the vicious, crafty ages:
men have become somewhat of women nowadays
while women are quite mannish, poor angels!
My Lord! How ardent was her shoulder bend
that strained against my pressing finger-nail,
an how impressive was the way she turned
from an asexual thing into a female!
Then her transfigured eyes were plunged in gloom,
they flickered with the light of candleТs coolness...
A woman needs so little to assume
the reputation of the fair sex! My Goodness!
Many times I have
been wounded badly,
crawling home, my soul and body stiff;
not that IТve been beaten angrily, Ч
you can wound one even with a leaf.
I have wounded some with unavailing
transient caress, alluring eyes,
and I know it can be very ailing
and as painful as the touch of ice.
Why on earth, do I offend my brothers,
tread on ruins of my dearest friends,
I, the one who easily wounds others
and the one whoТs quick to take offence?
For people I have greed,
my greed is strong indeed.
ItТs greed for employees,
a minister, a tender,
for their smiles and tears,
their wretchedness and splendour.
Like a young judge I would
conceal my final word;
I eavesdrop every man
and spy on everyone.
And to my great dismay
I havenТt got a chance
to see all right away
and hear all at once!
I want to be a little bit old-fashioned,
(or else I shall be washed away alive),
in order that the dead might not be bashful
with me, who knows the good old sense of life.
I want to be meticulous and simple,
polite and nice in good old manner, too;
but , being courteous, yet on wicked people
I want to have my own good old view.
I want to be refined, well-read and conscious,
mistrusting all thatТs pompously done,
and listening only to the voice of conscience! Ч
the good old voice will never let me down.
I want to be a green young man as ever,
remembering the lessons of the past,
and giving counsel to youngsters, like a clever,
wise, good old granny usually does.
And so IТm writing, lost in contemplation.
For me to tell you all and make it good
there comes the iamb, on transfiguration,
the same old iamb, that poetic foot.
I've fallen ill. For once it's age disease.
I don't know how it came about but
when something happens to me it appears
as though I had already been through that.
Indeed, I'm sick and tired of hugs and rows,
I only hope it's transient and fleeting.
Some day I'll gape at something in surprise
the way a rustic gapes around in a city.
My life experience is like an armor plate,
so that a bullet, not just a pill, for certain
will hit another bullet, which to date
has been inside me as a painful burden.
Delight has flown in for light into my hall,
and, desperately shaking off its spangles,
dashes against my limpid armored soul
resembling a moth that in the lampshade struggles.
I can't restore myself although I try.
Love and all that my flesh has outgrown;
it makes my blood run deadly cold when I
feel that all this to me is not unknown.
Well, it's the same old age, and here I go
stepping upon the same old silhouette,
and snow falls, hissing, on my cigarette,
the same old cigarette, the same old snow.
The repetition is our payment for cognition,
and women are like cities, I suppose,
which I have visited on this or other mission
though I do not remember when it was.
I'm still alive, and I should like to have
the power of sensitivity and feeling,
but I repeat myself, when flying up above
or falling prone bump on the stone, all bleeding.
Is this the answer to the question raised
that life, where ample space is just a vision,
has got its limits while cognition is replaced
by the phenomenon of repetition?
Shall I blow up like an explosive or
fade out in a gradual transition
assuming I've already died before,
and die again -- which means a repetition?
Ignoring mother's prudent urges
above the city noise, on high,
the little bird approached the edge of
the house roof amidst the sky
which lured with its blue spring colour
and booming winds that blew so high,
but where can one find magic power
to lift oneself into the sky?
It seemed that no such power was there,
but now and then it came in view
of little fledglings that would dare
jump off the roofs into the blue.
They flew up straight into the air,
up to the sun across the sky,
while it sat by, still unaware
that it had also wings to fly.
Shaking off doubts, all of a sudden,
courageous, daring it grew,
of force of wings so far uncertain,
believing in them, Ч up it flew.
They told me, somewhere
thereТs a church of pardoned sins.
A sparkling hoary road will lead there,
the road of ages, clouds, and things...
There come young people to the temple
for absolution to obtain,
and aged, wise, grey-haired people
plod on the temple to attain.
They walk a long way, in a flurry,
and stop in reverence by the gates,
smear their foreheads with some slurry
and wait till it comes off and fades.
I somehow mingled with the crowd
and shuddered at the sight of place.
And there I stood, my heart torn out
and holy slurry on my face.
But up to now I canТt get over it.
The clay has stuck like a burned brand,
I canТt remove it from my forehead,
I just canТt do it with my hand.
I run across the sleepy forests
where grass is hot, like in a dream,
across the villages and boroughs
I run around, shout and scream.
I see textiles, sea-shells, and rivers,
the interlacing roads and ways,
and everybody pokes his fingers
to stripe of stigma on my face.
Like the four points to
youТre my four directions.
I love you. My love is deep,
On the first, the closest side
youТre my dear wife and bride.
On the second, Ч
mark my word, Ч
youТre my sister.
On the third
youТre my daughter helping me
feel as young as I can be.
On the fourth side of my life
youТre my mother...
in my wife.
I hear people say
л You are an angry man,
you might as well relent╗.
Once I was kind
but for a short duration.
Life crushed me down,
drove me to frustration.
I was a silly little cub,
Slapped in the face,
IТd turn the other cheek.
the tail of flabbiness
to make me angry
and get rid of humbleness!
IТll tell you now about
itТs when you sit at table
hold staid and priggish
your manners gracious.
But when you offer me
a cup of tea
I donТt feel bored,
I watch you carefully.
I humbly drink my tea,
giving the hosts their due,
and, hiding claws,
extend my hand to you.
IТd like to tell you more
ItТs when they whisper to me:
лYou are younger
and less experienced,
youТd better write
and take your time, Ч
donТt fuss and fight╗.
But I do not give in,
I have my own mind!
For being angry with a lie
means being kind.
I warn you:
I have not just had my say.
And I can tell you
I am angry anyway.
IТm not as humble
as I used to be,
when IТm cross
life is more intТresting to me!
Great talent is alarming,
turning oneТs head, making it hot,
it isnТt rather a rebellion
but the beginning of revolt.
And like a humble bear, really,
you joined the world, doing your best,
you were a rebel willy-nilly
because you were unlike the rest.
You fell the victim of a tangle,
you were a fighting-man for most,
and, following a bitter wrangle,
you were mysteriously lost.
You found shelter in your freedom,
and never were in someoneТs way;
it looked as though you were hidden
under the sea where you could stay.
And then, with pompous exaltation,
you were taken out, in years;
the world received with admiration
what youТd piled up beneath the waves.
But those who childishly as ever
believed in you in your bad times,
expecting your support and favour, Ч
to-day lament and change their minds.
You get along in peace and quiet,
youТre fond of being praised, extolled;
it shows that talent is expired
when itТs unable to revolt.
A genuine poetТs instant
the burst of his poetic feeling
is the sensation of a crime
committed by a human being.
The guilt may lie with someone else,
and yet he feels he should repent it,
so closely with the human race
in bonds of kinship heТs connected.
Beside himself, he runs ahead,
away from fame and exaltation,
remorseful, yet he keeps his head,
A broken branch, a poisoned stream,
a grievous loss or, or devastation,
arouse the sense of guilt in him,
his guilt, not that of generation.
Hard is the world heТs living in,
his life is full of sins, so frightful;
to him a woman is a sin,
a gift that is beyond requital.
He always feels ashamed somehow,
which fills his head with pipe-dream notions,
he paves the way by sweat of brow
in vain attempts to clear his conscience.
And on the very final day,
which is to come by GodТs volition,
heТll say: л My God, forgive me, pray !..╗ Ч
without hoping for remission.
And then his spirit will depart,
passed paradise, into the fire,
absolved by God Almighty, but
a sinner, at his own desire.
When poetry is self-assured,
withdraws into its own shell,
it is disgracefully secured
against the lively noise and smell.
IТm fond of poems that resemble
a tale, chaotic and insane,
a clamour and a noisy Babel
and lively dance of snow and rain.
I like the kind of rhymes that feature
fruit boiling in a golden pan
and an amusing purple picture
of dragon-flies stuck in the jam.
I like the rhymes that walk about
like women stirring all along the line,
and when there isnТt any doubt
about life being divine.
ItТs nice when poets make some copies
of their own vivid selves,
IТm fond of Chichibabin Boris
whose Russian writ is on his face.
To me the poet is a sort of
my homeland, RussiaТs current saint,
his eyes, like wells of living water,
watch out, keeping me enchained.
I like a writer and a poet
that drains the cup of woe and plight,
I like it when his greatest poem
is he himself, in his own right.
WhatСs the matter, really, what is it?
I am scared, I am sorry for my wrongs,
I have got the feeling that a blizzard
is inside me whistling in my bones.
Snow is falling. Embers dying out
burn my feet, like in old childhood days,
and thereТs not a single light around,
nor a single porch, nor door, nor face.
I donТt weep nor scream for IТm despaired :
both the heaven and the earth are deaf.
The appalling thing is not that I am scared
but the fact that I have pity on myself.
I have eaten humble-pie repeatedly,
now IТll never let it come to pass!
What humiliates us is self-pitying, Ч
not when other people pity us.
I was told once by a fortune-teller
that IТd live in tears, which I hate,
I had pitied others while IТd never
taken pity on myself to date.
I have given way to weakness, I admit it.
Conscience-smitten, I have hung my head.
Now my first offence I have committed :
I took pity on myself, in someoneТs stead.
And I tell myself : лWhy all these tears?
You should ground your complaints or else!
You had better pity those nonentities
who have only pity on themselves.
It is nice to be self-pitying and humble.
Everybody wants to be a saint.
You should pity lawn grass when itТs trampled.
When they trample you, make no complaint.
Like a withered bank-note youТll be crumpled
but you wonТt be trampled anyway.
Actually, a man cannot be trampled,
only he himself can do it, I should say.
When youТre burnt, just clench your teeth, donТt grumble,
and be happy, Ч youТve got burns of love.
He who hasnТt seen much trouble,
always keeps lamenting his hard life.
Some get on, indulging in self-pity, Ч
what a shameful and disgraceful thing to do!
ItТs like touring a leper city
and complaining of a cold and flu.
Any victory is Pyrrhic, Ч you should know it,
thereТs no other victory, you bet.
If you pity your good self, donТt be a poet.
Poets seeking lenience are dead.
All your torments are of no importance,
once your mother earth is all in blood.
Your achievements, happy gains and fortunes
obviously, didnТt come too hard.
I would break my back for not being a horror
and for not becoming ostracized.
What comes easily to-day, tomorrow
will be over-paid and over-prized.
*** You must be capable of facing
the whims of time, and do it well,
when history keeps alternating
between stagnation and a whirl.
Your fear of times you should renounce,
or else the bounteous givers may
convey you to a cattle-house
and gag you with a wisp of hay.
The fear of time is a transgression,
donТt run your head into the noose,
but be prepared to lose possession
of all you are afraid to lose.
If all collapses for some reason,
and downfall you canТt foretell,
just say the words of little wisdom:
лWe must get over this as well...╗
The stupid creatures take delight
in humbling those who are not stupid,
but donТt give in, just show your pride,
and sneer at them instead of stooping.
It happens, when a game is on,
and лheads or tails╗ decides the dealing,
the winner always is the one
who has a better skill of sneering.
The knowledge of a truthful word,
self-confidence and self-assertion
are more appalling than revolt,
rebellion or retaliation.
Feeling himself an ugly лapes╗
the savage murderer will shudder,
when a superior smile escapes
the wounded lips, like a light shadow.
ThatТs how a humble slave, perhaps,
might give a priest a smile of wisdom,
and thatТs what lead to the collapse
of ancient Hammurabi kingdom...
Our liberties are
Amidst the outrageous strife
with Russian wisdom, I am sure,
theyТd somehow do in our life.
Our liberties are foes of freedom,
they are incapable of love,
they brought humiliation with them
of which weТd had more than enough.
Our liberties are sots and minstrels,
now they tell lies,
now talk like witless;
maybe, they cannot show their paces,
or, perhaps, bewildered and mislead,
unwilling to unveil their faces,
they show their naked backs instead.
Now what I want
is rather simple:
freedom for me
and for the people,
but I donТt want it to turn out
to be an ode with tragic sense.
Can freedom really be without
a human face, to all intents?
The grannyТs cart should not be humbled,
ItТs done its job, the good old cart.
But very often Ч well, God damn it Ч
I see it in the works of art.
IТm far from being glad and jovial
at seeing my colleagueТs cart, Ч
WeТve launched those super lunar cars,
while our operas are Ч
The spirit of old tarry settings!
What we expose are carts Ч
And, like a battering machine,
a cart crawls out on the screen.
You cart-admirers and your kind,
you have the cart-like scope of mind.
And what you really want in art
is not a rocket but
Your art for diligence is heartened,
endowed with ranks, for glory groomed,
yet itТs as squalid as a cart, and
at times of rockets it is doomed!
The scoundrelТs advice
is devilishly humble.
YouТve done a lot of trouble,
you scoundrelТs advice!
Wild giggles, phony sorrows,
false sweat, deceitful eyes...
There are so many followers
of scoundrelТs advice.
You wanted to renew
your life, and be so nice...
Why did you listen to
the scoundrelТs advice?
How come you took it? How?
Why were you so unwise?
So your advice is now
a scoundrelТs advice.
Enchantment is a
But it can also be a menacing temptation...
However, we donТt care and donТt mind:
amidst the vanity itТs our revelation,
and we are save and happy since weТre blind.
We bravely put ourselves through our paces,
The sighted think weТre silly, but theyТre wrong,
we hold our heads and our enchanted faces
amidst the nonchalant and disillusioned throng.
We flee from the routine and daily cares,
from feeble skeptics and optimistic freaks,
we have a longing for some distant flares
transfiguring the world with gleaming streaks.
But disillusion brings about enlightenment,
and all the things around us all at once
appear before us in a different light and
take an new shape, quite unfamiliar to us.
We see the world unveiled, clear-cut and luminous,
without anything particular in view,
but it appears that this seeming truthfulness
is false, while what we saw before is true.
It isnТt wisdom, nor oneТs power of judgement,
nor life experienceТs doubtful pride,
itТs human fascination and enchantment
that show the world to us in its true light.
When we catch sight of someone on the way
towards a distant shimmering light, delighted,
we donТt think that he is a blind man anyway Ч
we tend to think ourselves to be shortsighted...
can it be you and me,
as if worn out by a fight and illness,
not by a fight with our лenemy╗
but by a lasting strife between us?
Before we partЕ
(our sleeping sonny cries!)
Before we doЕ
(the wind, like crazy, rages outdoors!)
please come, just once, and look into my eyes,
look with the same old loving eyes of yours.
Before we part, as you now beg of me,
I ask you not to go for good advice,
where emptiness pretends to be
a garden cherishing the moon, so лnice╗.
Before we part, as you now beg of me,
just listen to the sobs of ice at night, and
the blue will suddenly turn out to be
the green, which will transform into enlightenment.
Before we partЕ
Our life was outrageous! Bother!
We should be buried live for that!
When did we actually alienate each other?
When did we lose our ability to chat?
I hear you reply: лDon't call me "love"Е╗
It serves me right.
So I keep silent, but
I beg you in the name of our crumpled life:
please before we partЕ
You stare at me, like lifeless,
in a trance,
I beg you on my bended knees
(I do not call you лlove╗ for once):
лMy dear old friend, don't leave pleaseЕ╗
AM AN ANGEL
I do no drink.
I love my wife.
My own wife Ч
one ought to know it.
Indeed, I live an angelТs life Ч
to quote from Shchipachev, the poet.
This way of life has made me sick.
I shut my eyes to girls and women.
My shoulders bind me, so to speak,
I may have wings,
as if inhuman!
IТm at a loss.
My heart may break.
The wings are growing!
I canТt like it!
What I shall have to do is make
two holes for wings in my new jacket.
IТm an angel.
ItТs no joke.
Yet with my life IТm not offended.
IТm an angel.
But I smoke
The angelТs life
is queer and hard.
You have no flesh
but only spirit.
There are nice women all around,
IТm an angel,
and they feel it!
They disregard me, leave me flat,
as long as IТm at heaven level,
it is a former angel that
will make the most appalling devil!
MONOLOGUE OF THE BEATNIKS
Our century has often told us lies
imposing them on us like tolls and taxes.
Our ideas spread, as fast as dandelions,
blowing in the wind of our realities.
And irony, with an implicit sense,
not so well hidden but quite clear,
became our reliable defense,
as powerful as a teenagerТs sneer.
It was a sort of dam, a bank, or weir,
that gave protection from the flood of lies,
and when applauding , our hands would sneer,
and our feet, when on the march, would smile.
TheyТd write about us telling our story,
theyТd screen our trash Ч we didnТt care a thing,
but somehow we reserved the right to allegory
and irony, in spite of everything.
We rose above the rest for we were rigid.
But take a careful look and you will see:
from our savior our irony transfigured
into the murderer of our entity.
Our love is hypocritical and reticent,
our friendship timid and of any size;
it seems to us that our present
is nothing but our past life in disguise.
We rush about life, and we appear
to be like Faust, guilty in advance.
And irony, like MephistophelesТ sneer,
as ever, like a shadow, follows us.
WeТd give it up, but we canТt work it out.
There is no way: our boats we had to burn.
WeТve sold our souls to irony, without
receiving lovely MargТret in return.
You irony have buried us alive,
we know the bitter truth, but we canТt help it;
our irony has managed to survive,
it laughs ironically, weary and decrepit.
When suddenly I saw you rise
over my miserable living
at first I came to realize
that all I had was void of meaning.
Your face, however, like the sun,
lit up the forests, seas and boroughs
and let me uninitiated man
into the world of magic colors.
IТm scared that there may be
the end of sudden revelation,
and tears and joys and admiration,
but I donТt struggle with my fear.
This fear is nothing else but love.
I foster it thought I canТt do it,
and, putting up with fears I have,
I guard my love from being ruined.
IСm bound down by this fear.
The colours wonТt last long, you bet;
for me they all will disappear
if, like the sun, your face should set.
We all have got the moment of
despair and miserable feeling,
when our life, having stripped off,
appears to be void of meaning.
Our heart will sink, depressing us,
but stubbornly we look for remedies,
like a sick person calls a nurse,
we call for aid our memories.
But sometimes weТre so torn apart,
at heart we have such a disturbance
that neither memory of heart,
nor that of mind can really help us.
Our eyes grow dim, our movements weary.
Our speech is dull, we donТt feel fresh.
But there is yet another memory
and itТs the memory of flesh.
Our feet recall the touch of dust
on a warm road of country route, and
the coldness of the morning grass
we used to tread on barefooted.
Our cheek well gently recollect
the tender act of consolation
when, after fight, our clever pet
licked up our tears of dejection.
Our forehead will recall the bliss
of kiss that lay upon it, blessing,
the quiet gentle motherТs kiss
with loving warmth of her caressing.
Our fingers will recall the pitch
of pines, the rye, the misty drizzle,
the trembling sparrow and the twitch
of horseТs withers in the mizzle.
Then weТll express apologies:
лI blamed you, life, with no intention,
remit my stupid anger, please,
like a most serious transgression.
The world is fine, and if I have
to pay for that severely,
well, let it be, itТs fair enough
IТll pay the price quite willingly.
But ups and downs of our fate
and our big or little losses, Ч
is it a high price to be paid
for all your beauties, charms and glosses?!╗
KNOCK AT THE DOOR
аааааааааааалIТm Old Age.
ааааааааааааааааааааааI've come after you.╗
аааааааааааааааааааааааIТve got things to do.╗
I did some writing,
аааааааааааааааааааааThen I made a call.
Iopened up the door.
ааааааааааааааThere was no one there at all.
Perhaps, it was a friend of mine?... Just playing?...
Or I just didnТt understand what She was saying?
It wasnТt Old Age.
ааааааааааааааааааMaturity came by
which couldnТt wait
ааааааааааааand left me
аааааааааааааааааааааааwith a sigh...
There is some idea behind a fairy tale, and
I recall the dream I had long, long ago:
I sit on a sea-shore, IТm a daring fellow,
leaning on my axe, downhearted, feeling low.а
Our good old tsar had asked me to come over,
and he said the following to me:
лYou are poorly dressed, your clothes are patched all over,
and your shoes are quite worn out, as I see.
HereТs my word: you'll be a big man, quite important,
and I promise : shabby clothes you'll never wear.
Go lay out green gardens for me on water
and erect a white-stone palace there.
Come along, you footmen, get this daring fellow,
take him to the place along the bright blue sea,
if, by morning, he does not do as I tell him
he will lose his reckless head. So may it be!
Show him to the sea, and make no bones about it...╗
Gratified and reverent, I made a low bow.
And they grabbed me, holding tight, and lead me out,
and they brought me to this steep, where I am now.
I was broken-hearted, in a state of bother,
I just wondered what I was supposed to do.
Suddenly, I saw you burst out of water,
as a fair nymph you came into my view!
You looked at me, as if encouraging and cheering,
then you trod upon the surface of the sea,
and you stamped your foot... You were wearing
stylish boots with gold-embroidered filigree.
As you raised your beautiful black eyebrows,
pointing to the waves, they turned to a garden plot.
Then, you cast a pearl down on the ground,
and a white-stone palace sprang up on that spot.
I stood there, stunned and overwhelmed with wonder
watching you make islands, with a gracious smile,
playfully, from one ear, then from the other,
you withdrew a garden in a splendid style. а
You let out birds, laid bridges here and there,
then you said : лCalm down! Go and have a sleep╗.
Like a shadow, you slipped off and faded in the air
leaving me, for the time being, on this steep. а
In the morning I was roused by a hubbub sound.
Looking out I saw people stand and gape.
Then I saw a huge acclaiming crowd,
And they took me to the palace gate.
Our tsar is kind to me and always takes me welcome.
(though I know, of course, it cannot last for years),
for the present, like a worthy man, I wear a tail-coat,
and musicians glorify me, playing songs of praise. а
It does not occur to people, blinded by the marvels,
that the genuine creator isn't really me,
that IТve neither built that white stone palace
nor laid out those gardens on the sea...
A free translation is not a fault.
A loving man has a poetic license.
But if a melody is spoilt, Ч
It will corrupt its gist and essence.
The skill of cheats is not what I'm for.
I'm for the poet's right to free activity
The accuracy a wretched student strives for
Is not the same as that of creativity.
Do not let pedantry restrain your style.
More freedom, music, inspiration!
I do believe in poems, while
I don't believe in sheer translation.
BALLAD OF THE SWALLOW
It was day break. O'er the Lena a fir smell hovered.
The vast was blue, then red, chirps filled the air.
Sysoyev, the crane driver, had a bad hangover.
And he expressed his feelings with a swear.
He was engaged in lifting up containers
Onto the river barge called лDiogenes╗
The things that he was handling with for once
Were long black trunks and lilac underpants.
He was recurring to the wood. It had been damp
(With bottles, sprats and midges on the stump).
And the wretched red-haired girl, the marker from the site,
WhoТd wavered, shilly-shallying all night!
She strained beneath her dress, resisting,
When, after a great deal of drinking,
Sysoyev tried to resort to force,
She made an adequate response.
A village lass, a rebellious chick!
(Perchance, she did it with good intent)
She marked the worker's blatant cheek,
With a heavy slap of her peasant's hand.
Sysoyev had bad feeling, his spirit broken,
He thought he was a Hamlet, as it were.
He crushed the cardboard cigarette-end, smoking,
And again expressed himself with a swear.
As he was lifting up a pack of roofing slate,
(Couldn't they find a better place to store it?),
Sysoyev startled falling silent, in a state,
A cold sweat standing out on his forehead.
Over the cranes, the barges, high up in the air
Or right below the hook, to be exact,
A swallow fluttered peeping in despair,
A mother's cry over her child it was, in fact.
Sysoyev saw that he was shaking
A nest on the upper plate, about to slide.
A living, tweeting nest was swaying
Over the store-house at a mortal height.
It seemed, Sysoyev didn't care a bit.
For he wasn't sentimental at all.
But he took pity on the nestling and the bird,
HeТd been a foster child once, after all.
Handling the load with utmost care,
Without swearing and cursing now,
As if it were TNT or chinaware,
He put it down on the roof, and how.
Down on the site, in great surprise,
Or, perhaps, enchanted, very intently,
The wretched marker stared, all eyes,
Watching the hook release so tenderly.
Sysoyev had done it neatly and with grace,
And, with the crane rumbling high up in the skies,