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Bulat Okudzhava. Collection of Poems

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  • © Copyright Okudzhava (vagalec@rambler.ru)
  • : 06/11/2007, : 17/02/2009. 97k. .
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    Bulat Okudzhava. Collection of Poems Translated by from the Russian and compiled by Alec Vagapov


COLLECTION OF POEMS FROM

Bulat Okudzhava

1948-1986

Translated by Alec Vagapov

      -- Unyielding, Raged And Free,
      -- The Happy Drummer
      -- The Song Of The Old Street-Organ Player
      -- The Song Of The Trampling Jackboots
      -- The Song Of A Happy Soldier
      -- The Last Trolley Bus
      -- There Are Lions Beside You, Dear N.P.
      -- The Blue Air-Balloon
      -- You're Not Drunkards, You're Not Vagrants...
      -- I Need Someone To Worship And Admire.
      -- The Artists
      -- The Paper Soldier
      -- The Yard In Arbat Street
      -- Here We Stand, In Desperation...
      -- The Grasshoppers
      -- Darkness Has Covered The Room An'
      -- The Old Jacket
      -- The Night Duty In April
      -- The Song Of The Open Door
      -- I've Sung All My Songs.
      -- All Night The Roosters Uttered Cries...
      -- I've Never Hovered, And I've Never Been
      -- The Song Of Moscow Nights
      -- In The City Park
      -- Photographs Of My Friends
      -- What happens to the many...
      -- The Night Conversation
      -- How I Sat On The Tsar's Throne
      -- The Main Song
      -- The Tune Swayed Up And Down...
      -- Learning To Paint
      -- The Word Is Instant, And Life Is Short.
      -- My Portrait Drawn In Pencil
      -- The Times
      -- The Circus
      -- Will You Please Be So Kind As To Pull Down The Blinds...
      -- My Hope, At This Successive Session
      -- Look Here, Your Majesty
      -- Georgian Song
      -- The Old Students' Song...
      -- The Song Of A Long Road
      -- My City Is Asleep
      -- Mozart
      -- Francois Villon"S Prayer
      -- Let's Shout And Rejoice, Admire One Another...
      -- Again I"Ve Encountered Hope, - What A Happy Occasion!
      -- Another Romance
      -- Wintertime. Night. Flying Over The Lampshade
      -- Sound Of Trumpet Over Cities
      -- The Musician
      -- After Rain The Sky Is So Vast ...
      -- Life is fine but it's strange, for a wonder,
      -- The Omen
      -- The music of the soul is flat...
      -- What Can I Do For You, Grasshopper, Dear...
      -- I Cannot Gather Birch -Trees For A Ball...
      -- Music
      -- Youth Goes By, And Very Quickly...
      -- Tell Me, What Is The Shipping Route Of Your Boat...
      -- The Lucky Devil
      -- Alexander Pushkin
      -- Constructor, Build A Home For Me...
   0x01 graphic
  
  
   * * *
  
   Unyielding, raged and free,
   burn, fire, burn on, please...
   Decembers tend to be
   replaced by Januaries.
  
   We've anything at all:
   smiles, joys and everything,
   one common moon for all,
   one summer and one spring.
  
   We'd live and go to grass
   then, come what may, we will
   for all the wrongs of ours
   stand trial by ordeal.
   We do not care, since
   we know: when life is gone
   for all of our sins
   the reckoning is one.
  
   Unyielding, raged and free,
   burn, fire, burn on, please...
   Decembers have to be
   replaced by Januaries.
  
   1946
  
   1957
   ------------------------------------------
   THE HAPPY DRUMMER
  
   Get up early
   when the birds begin to clamour,
   when the caretakers turn up in the yards.
   You will see the happy drummer
   yes, you'll see the happy drummer
   take his drum and maple drumsticks in his hands.
  
  
   There will be another day of fuss and tumult,
   streams of people and the rambling of a tram,
   you just listen, you will hear,
   and you'll see the happy drummer
   walking lively down the pavement with his drum.
  
  
   Night will come, -- the wicked plotter and the shammer,
   streets will sink into the darkness, growing calm;
   take a good look you will see, yes,
   you will see the happy drummer,
   walking lively down the pavement with his drum.
  
  
   Roll of drum... now fading in, now fading out,
   coming through the midnight, bustle, fog and hum...
   Can't you hear the happy drummer,
   make the loud rhythmic sound
   can't you see him carry proudly his drum?!
  
   1957
  
  
   THE SONG
   OF THE OLD STREET-ORGAN PLAYER
  
   My good old naughty organ,
   The sound you make is sweet.
   My good old naughty organ,
   I wonder where you lead.
   I'm plodding hardly able
   to move ahead an inch.
   How can I reach my aim when
   the shoes I'm wearing pinch?
  
   I'm working, I'm freelancing.
   A steady job it is!
   I wish my sweat would last me
   for my remaining years.
   I have a great assignment
   of paying for my slips,
   if only I could smile when
   I get it in the ribs.
  
   1957
  
  
   THE SONG OF THE TRAMPLING JACKBOOTS
  
   Now do hear the sound of trampling boots?
   And do you see the birds fly off like mad
   and women stare scrutinising routes?
   I think you know what they are staring at.
  
   Now do hear the sound of drum-beat bass?
   The soldiers have to say their good-byes...
   The squadron leaves to vanish in the haze...
   The past appears clearly in the eyes.
  
   What happens to your soldier's fortitude
   when you return to your old neighbourhood?
   It's women's trick who steal it from your chest
   and keep it like a birdie in the nest.
   What happens to your women, man of war,
   when you come home and open the front door?
   They welcome you and kindly let you in
   but in the house there's a smell of sin.
  
   The past is gone -- who cares about that!
   We look into the future, for the light!
   And in the fields the carrion-crows are fat,
   the roaring war pursues us like a plight.
  
   Again you hear the sound of trampling boots
   and see the frenzied birds fly off like mad,
   and women stare scrutinising routes...
   It's our napes that they are staring at.
   1957
  
  
   THE SONG OF A HAPPY SOLDIER
  
   I'll take a bag, a helmet and a ration,
   a jacket of protective coloration,
   I'll tramp about the streets, a barracks lodger,
   it's easy to become a real soldier.
  
   I will forget my daily cares and pledges,
   I do not have to think of jobs and wages.
   I'm playing with my gun, a barracks lodger,
   it's easy to become a real soldier.
  
   If something should go wrong, I do not care.
   It's, so to say, my Motherland's affair.
   It's great to be a simple barracks lodger,
   an innocent and inoffensive soldier.
   1957
  
  
   THE LAST TROLLEY BUS
  
  
   When I'm in trouble and totally done
   and when all my hope I abandon
   I get on the blue trolley bus on the run,
   the last one,
   at random.
  
   Night trolley, roll on sliding down the street,
   around the boulevards keep moving
   to pick up all those who are wrecked and in need
   of rescue
   from ruin.
  
   Night trolley bus will you please open your doors !
   On wretched cold nights, I can instance,
   your sailors would come, as a matter of course,
   to render
   assistance.
  
   So many a time they have lent me a hand
   to help me get out of grievance...
   Imagine, there is so much kindness behind
   this silence
   and stillness.
  
   Last trolley rolls round the greenery belt
   and Moscow, like river, dies down...
   the hammering blood in my temples I felt
   calms down
   calms down.
  
   1957
  
   * * *
   To A.Sh.
  
   There are lions beside you, dear N.P.
   They guard your peace and quiet, like a demon.
   I've never been a happy man with women,
   you are the first one, as far as I can see.
  
   I say, don't pick up speed, just take your time,
   no trivial words of praise from me you'll hear,
   I'm not a tourist of a kind, my dear,
   I'm just a lonely man, that's what I am.
  
   You're by my side again. I'm used to you!
   I stare deep into your eyes intently.
   It's outstanding men who loved you greatly,
   although you never cared who was who.
  
   You'd go towards the main street, looking nice,
   without listening to the ranks and titles,
   you would be followed by the marble lions
   remembering the glamor of your eyes.
  
   I would bend down to look into those eyes
   and get reflected in the wide blue ocean,
   a happy, strong young, man, filled with emotion...
   So why this sorrow, why those tears and cries?
  
   They say, the bygone days don't count.. Alas
   the waves run over, wearing all out...
   For ages long your off-white color garment
   has not allowed me to forget the past.
  
   1957
  
  
   THE BLUE AIR-BALLOON
  
   A little girl's crying: her air-balloon is gone.
People console her, the balloon flies on.
  
A young maid's crying: no boy-friend as yet.
People console her, the balloon flies on.
  
A woman is crying: her husband has left.
People console her, the balloon flies on.
  
An old woman's crying: life's been so short.
The balloon has come back, a blue balloon it is.
  
   1957
  
  
  
   ***
  
   You're not drunkards, you're not vagrants,
   round the table of seven seas,
   sing the praises, sing the praises
   to my woman, if you please!
  
   Look at her as if she were
   your salvation in sea storms,
   you compare her, you compare her
   with a shore that's very close.
  
   We are earthly, don't you tell us
   Tales of gods, they're are not for us!
   We just carry on wings of ours
   what you carry in your arms.
  
   You just ought to put your trust in
   the blue lighthouse on the rock,
   then the shore, all over sudden,
   will emerge out of the fog.
  
  
   1957
  
   1959
   --------------------------------------------------------------------
  
   ***
   To O.B.
  
   I need someone to worship and admire.
   Just think, a simple ordinary ant
   got suddenly possessed with the desire
   to bow the knee in fascination, charmed !
  
   The ant lost quietness and peace of mind,
   life seemed so tedious to him. Meanwhile,
   he made itself an idol of a kind,
   a goddess in his own image and style.
  
   And on the seventh day, at a sudden moment,
   she sprang up, in a flash, from midnight lights,
   without any sign and any omen...
   dressed in a coat, she made a perfect sight.
  
   Forgetting joys and sorrows, bad sensations,
   he opened wide the doors to let her in
   and kissed her weather-beaten hands, in adoration,
   'n the little old shoes that she was wearing.
  
   Their shadows were swaying in the doorway.
   They quietly conversed, without saying a word,
   like gods, they were beautiful, adoring,
   like people, they were wistful and disturbed.
  
   1959
  
  
   THE ARTISTS
  
   Artists, dip you badges brushes in the visage
   of the bustling Moscow yards and sunrise glaze.
   so that brushes might resemble autumn leafage,
   whirling leaves that fall to mark November days.
  
   Dip your brushes by the city's old tradition,
   dip them in the paint of light blue colour tint,
   do the painting with devotion and ambition
   like we do the walking down Tverskaya street.
  
   Let the pavement stir up as if coming round !
   Let what hasn't started yet begin right off !
   Keep on painting, it will pass to your account...
   We don't care
   if it hasn't quite come off.
  
   You depict our lives and fates like fair judges,
   paint our summer, our winter, our spring...
   never mind that we are outsiders,
   you just paint,
   and I'll expound everything.
  
   1959
  
  
  
   THE PAPER SOLDIER
  
   Once there lived a soldier-boy,
   quite brave, one can't be braver,
   but he was merely a toy
   for he was made of paper.
  
   He wished to alter everything,
   and be the whole world's helper,
   but he was puppet on a string,
   a soldier made of paper.
  
   He'd bravely go through fire and smoke,
   he'd die for you. No vapour.
   But he was just a laughing-stock,
   a soldier made of paper.
  
   You would mistrust him and deny
   your secrets and your favour.
   Why should you do it, really, why?
   `cause he was made of paper.
  
   He dreads the fire? Not at all!
   One day he cut a caper
   and died for nothing; after all,
   he was a piece of paper.
  
   1959
  
  
  
  
  
  
   THE YARD IN ARBAT STREET
  
   ...Like songs, years go by very quickly.
   I've changed all my views and my mood.
   The yard is too small for me, really,
   I'm going to leave it for good.
  
   I want neither honors nor riches,
   nor anything else for the road
   except for my neighbourhood which is
   the only big thing that I've got.
  
   Into my rucksack I put it
   preparing myself for the stroll,
   the yard, not so highly reputed,
   but with a human soul.
  
   I'm kind with it, strong, safe and sound.
   What else do I need for once?
   I touch its affectionate ground
   to warm up my frozen hands.
   1959
  
  
   * * *
  
   Here we stand, in desperation,
   folding our arms in pride,
   on the brink of separation,
   at the threshold of a plight
  
   where clocks with measured paces
   stick precisely to their course,
   and we keep our smiling faces
   under lock and key, like doors.
  
   Days of reconing are close, and
   time has driven us to bay...
   We are nailed to our crossroads
   in a careless, slipshod way.
  
   1959
  
   1960
   ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  
   THE GRASSHOPPERS
  
   Two grasshoppers putter, knitting their brows, in the grass.
   Over them blue foggy clouds to all sides are flowing past.
  
   Beneath them are purple flowers and some sticky golden burs...
   Two grasshoppers are engaged in writing poems in blank verse.
  
   The grasshoppers dip their pens into the clouds and white milk,
   so that their lines of lyric may be visible, distinct.
  
   They synchronically scratch their heads and move their legs with jerks.
   but they do not let each other get a peep of their works.
  
   Like a lady, running to them is a little creeping bug,
   but they do not feel like petting, they don't care for love and hug.
  
   Other tempting creatures, too, approach them wishing to seduce
   but the grasshoppers don't see them, they are writing their verse.
  
   They endure snowfalls, heats and drizzling rain week after week,
   at the turning point the world gives an abominable creak...
  
   Summer, winter, joys and sorrows, come and go, and in between
   that creative work acquires a clear-cut prophetic meaning.
  
   And, despite their resentment, down will go in history:
   bread (a poem), life (a poem), line (the branch of poplar tree).
  
   1960
  
  
   * * *
   To G.V.
  
  
   Darkness has covered the room an'
   it's quiet and still as can be.
   Good heavens! Your Majesty Woman,
   you really want to see me?
  
   Lighting is muddy in here,
   the walls have a leakage trace...
   Your Majesty Woman! Oh dear!
   How did you get to this place?
  
   My goodness! You came like a fire.
   Smoke makes me gasp, I can't breathe...
   Now do come in, I desire.
   Don't stand in the doorway, please.
  
   Where do you come from, my pretty?
   How funny! I must be on edge...
   You have mistaken the city,
   the door, and the street and the age.
  
   1960
  
  
  
   THE OLD JACKET
   to Zh. B.
  
   I have a shabby jacket on,
   It's rather old and quite worn out.
   I ask the tailor to come round
   and alter it before too long.
  
   I tell him playfully: "You see,
   the jacket needs an alteration,
   the art and skill of dress creation
   will bring the best of luck to me".
  
   I say it playfully, in fun,
   but he is serious, not laughing.
   He worries fearing that something
   may come amiss. A funny man.
  
   He is exceedingly intent
   on mending it, and seems to like it;
   he wants the renovated jacket
   to make me happy and content.
  
   And this is how he sees the plan:
   when he has done with alteration
   I will believe in your affection...
   But he is wrong. A funny man.
  
   1960
  
  
   THE NIGHT DUTY IN APRIL
   to Zh.B.
  
   What a wonderful and lovely night we're having!
   But my mother is alarmed and worried strongly.
   -- Why do you stay out at these hours, darling,
   on your own
   and so lonely?
  
   -- I'm on my way towards the end of April, dear,
   I should say, the stars have grown kind and round...
   Mother, I'm just on duty here,
   It's my April
   Nightly round
  
   -- Sonny, dear, I remember all your story;
   now you're sad, your eyes are filled with grievance...
   Maybe, she's forgotten you, and isn't sorry,
   and she doesn't
   seek forgiveness?
  
   -- I'm on my way towards the end of April, dear,
   I should say, the stars have grown kind and round...
   Mother, I'm just on duty here,
   It's my April
   nightly round...
  
  
   1961
   -------------------------------------------------------------
   THE SONG OF THE OPEN DOOR
  
   When, like a beast, the snow storm roars,
   when, in a rage, it howls,
   you do not have to lock the doors,
   of your residing house.
  
   When on a lasting trip you go
   the road is hard, supposing,
   you ought to open wide your door
   leave it unlocked, don't close it.
  
  
   As you leave home one quiet night,
   decide, don't pause a minute:
   mix up the burning pinewood light
   with that of human spirit.
  
  
   I wish the house you live in,
   were always warm and faultless..
   A closed door isn't worth a thing,
   a lock is just as worthless.
  
   1961
  
  
   ***
   I've sung all my songs.
   I'm out.
   So don't talk about it now.
   Though, maybe, a line, or a sound,
   has been left out somehow.
  
   The wheels spin above and around it,
   and though it can't swing at one dash,
   naive and quite simple-minded,
   it's eager to dazzle and flash.
  
   There's still room for hope, oh my dear,
   spread out your nice little sails,
   you' are like a shell much too sheer
   to sail through the city waves.
  
   Wherever the waves cast you out
   don't call anybody for aid;
   there's no need to give an account,
   keep sailing, do not be afraid.
  
   You'll be like the instant picture
   of silver midnight and yard,
   a boy with guitar as a feature
   of neighbourhood
   in Arbat.
  
   1961
  
  
  
   ***
   All night the roosters uttered cries,
   and swayed their necks like crazy,
   as if they were reading rhymes
   declaiming in a frenzy.
  
   And in those cries there was the kind
   of bitterness, aroused
   by the unwanted man's defiant
   appearance in the house.
  
   Far-far away the crowing rang,
   inept and unavailing,
   like the caressing of a man
   who has become an alien
  
   when she's unable to caress
   and chary of refusing...
   And thus the night dragged on like blessed,
   unending
   and confusing.
  
   1961
  
  
  
  
  
   1962
   ---------------------------------------------------------------
   * * *
   to Olya
  
   I`ve never hovered and I've never been
   up in the clouds where I've never been.
   I've never visited and I`ve never seen
   cities and towns which I've never seen.
   I've never modeled and I've never had
   jars which I've never modeled and had.
   I've never worshipped and I've never loved
   women which I haven't worshipped and loved.
   But what am I actually able to do?
   Is it just what I'm unable to do?
   Shall I be able to run and get to
   the house which I am not running up to?
   Shall be able to worship and love
   women which I'll never worship and love?
   Shall I be able, I wonder, to cut
   the Gordian knot which I`ll never cut,
   the Gordian knot I'll never undo,
   doing a song which I`ll never do
   saying a word which I`ll never say,
   serving the cause which I`ll never serve,
   catching a bullet I`ll never deserve?..
  
   1962
  
  
   1963
  
  
   THE SONG OF MOSCOW NIGHTS
   to B. A.
  
   When all at once the sound of trumpet
   resounds, yet unclearly heard,
   the word impetuously flushes
   escaping lips like a night bird.
   And music, like a casual shower,
   meanders rumbling up above,
   the little orchestra of wishes
   conducted by the force of love.
  
   In years of partings, fights and battles
   when rains of iron, steel and lead
   came down slashing us like fury
   so that no lenience we'd expect,
   and the commanders lost their voices...
   it came as power from above,
   the little orchestra of wishes
   conducted by the force of love.
  
   The clarinet's crushed, the trumpet's pierced
   bassoon's worn like a walking stick,
   the drum has burst at seams collapsing...
   the clarinetist's looking chic!
   The flutist, like a prince, is graceful,
   agreeable over and above,
   the little orchestra of wishes
   conducted by the force of love.
  
   1963
  
  
   IN THE CITY PARK
  
   The eyes of fear are big,
   while those of happiness are round,
   festivities and injuries cause wrinkles on the face...
   They started playing Bach
   as the conductor quietly came out,
   and everything calmed down, and all was back in place.
  
   So all was back in place as soon as Bach resounded.
   If we did not have hope,
   the world would not make any sense.
   This vanity of line and wine and sign --
   we would forget about it,
   and for your first-rate fancy shoes
   you wouldn't care less.
  
   "It doesn't matter where you go
   and where you tread the ground.
   It doesn't matter if a fisherman
   brings home big fish or small.
   It doesn't matter if you're dead
   or come home safe and sound,
   and who assists you, friend or foe, --
   you do not care at all..".
  
   For goodness sake, we wish such things
   would never happen. Never !
   Perhaps that is the reason, maybe, that is why
   the ordinary orchestra
   plays with the usual flavour,
   we follow it with ease or cannot do it though we try.
  
   My dear musician, now you play,
   and you are not aware
   that guilt and happiness and illness disappear at once
   the instant you, my dear musician,
   dear clarinet-player,
   just grip your instrument
   in your tobacco-smelling hands!
  
   1963
  
   1964
   -----------------------------------------------------------
   PHOTOGRAPHS OF MY FRIENDS
  
   Money comes and goes and tears,
   words are easy to forget,
   grass is trampled, leaves are shed,
   only faces, it appears,
   will remain in their stead...
   When they smile, or when in tears,
   their voices can't be heard.
  
   Biographical descriptions
   pour from photographic pictures;
   all those lives are interwoven,
   interlaced with our own.
  
   Neither suffering nor grievance
   can be seen, -- they're out of sight,
   just as envy, greed and plight
   can't be seen from their appearance,
  
   nor concern, nor magic spells,
   no regret, nor disappointment...
   there are two things in the portrait, --
   light and age, -- and nothing else.
  
   We embrace them live, regarding,
   and we drink to their fate...
   ...it's a pity, understanding
   comes a little bit too late!
  
   1964
  
  
   ***
  
   What happens to the many
   who dream about it all,
   when artist Pyrosmani
   comes our of the wall?
  
   Out of simple settings
   and boring livelihood,
   he goes to sell his paintings
   to buy himself some food.
  
   He's thin and pale as ever,
   but tries to keep his head,
   the deer he paints, however,
   look healthy and well-fed.
  
   There's Margaret, the beauty,
   lying in grass, at rest,
   a mole stands out cutely
   upon her open breast.
  
   The world rejoices, bragging,
   amidst the cheerful cries,
   meanwhile he paints his Maggie
   and waits till she arrives.
  
   He cared much for life and
   held it in high esteem...
   but there was not enough of
   soup in the world
   for him.
  
   1964
   -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   *Pyrosmani, Nikolai (1862-1912) -- Georgian artist, primitivist, known for spontaneous, naive and poetic vision of the world,
   created majestic paintings characterized by strict composition and austere coloring.
  
  
   THE NIGHT CONVERSATION
  
   -- My horse is worn out,
   My shoes are well down at heel.
   Now where shall I ride? --
   will you tell me, please, -- where shall I ride?
   -- Along the Red River, my dear,
   towards the Blue Hill,
   towards the Blue Hill,
   there, down by the Red River side.
  
   -- And how do I get there?
   My horse is so tired tonight.
   Which is the right way to get to the place?
   Tell me, please.
   -- You ride to the bright light, my dear,
   you ride to the light,
   you ride to the bright light, my dear,
   you'll find it with ease.
  
   -- But where on earth is the bright light?
   And why doesn't it shine?
   I've propped up the sky with my shoulder for ages
   at night...
   -- The lamplighter lights it, but he is asleep,
   it's his line;
   he must be asleep...
   And I've nothing to do with the light.
  
   He rides on, alone, into darkness,
   not knowing the way.
   But where is he off to?
   Night's coming right up to the eyes!...
   -- Well, what have you lost there? --
   I shout as he rides away.
   -- Good Heavens, I wish that I knew it myself, --
   he replies..
  
   1964.
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   HOW I SAT ON THE TSAR'S THRONE
  
  
   It's eighteenth century. The actors
   play on a lawn, in open space.
   I'm Paul the First, that is I act as
   the Russian ruler of those days.
  
   I listen to the sound of piano
   and feel my head to music sway,
   I raise my hand in regal manner,
   but this is what I want to say:
  
   "Away with finery and polish!
   The brittle heels you should forget...
   Parades and marches I abolish...
   Roll up to visit bars instead...
  
   Drink hard and make no bones about
   rejoicing, marrying for fun...
   Come on, grandees, have a look round!
   Come on, cash down, everyone!"
  
   And, menacingly, I am going
   to draw my rapier, in a rage...
   But I'm Paul the First, the sovereign.
   A mutiny I cannot stage.
  
   I still can hear the music linger.
   And once again I want to cry:
   "My dear fellows, lift a finger,
   you'll work it out, if you try:
  
   we'll kick the hateful monarch out,
   and spit upon gendarmerie,
   I'm sick and tired of that crowd...
   I'll take the lead... Just follow me..."
  
   And, menacingly, I am going
   to draw my rapier, in a rage...
   But I'm Paul the First, the sovereign.
   A mutiny I cannot stage.
  
   The music plays which I must follow,
   and yet I am about to say:
   "For your distress, your pains, your sorrow
   I want to give my life away!
  
   Don't be afraid of accusations
   or you'll end up in a bad way.
   I look ahead through generations, --
   I'm quite aware of what I say!"
  
   And, menacingly, I am going
   to draw my rapier, in a rage...
   But I'm Paul the First, the sovereign.
   A mutiny I cannot stage.
  
   1964
  
  
  
   THE MAIN SONG
  
   Wherever I go I can hear
   the song that has turned me on,
   the best one I heard over here,
   I listen again to the song.
  
   The singing requires more effort,
   it's raw and unripe, in fact.
   However, the music is perfect,
   the lyric precise and exact.
  
   Through times yet unseen and unknown
   through transient tears and smiles
   I hear a trumpeter blowing
   the tune in the best of styles.
  
   Unusual, light and so pleasant,
   it whirls over roads in a spin,
   this main song which up to the present
   I haven't been able to sing.
  
   1964
  
  
  
   * * *
  
   The tune swayed up and down, forward, backward,
   reminding of a boat on raging waves;
   the old street-organ playing in the backyard
   presented me with sadness and great pains.
  
   I was about to begin to cry
   when suddenly I clearly made out
   the happy, joyous and delighted sound
   of a hilarious crazy note, oh my!
  
   Though we are in a state of agitation,
   confused by the disharmony of pipes,
   but in the face of mortal inundation
   we want to live.
   We have no other rights.
  
   All tricks and duperies of the intriguer
   have given nothing in return for love...
   ...so many, many times I've pulled the trigger
   but it's been nightingales that have gone off.
   1964
  
  
   LEARNING TO PAINT
  
   If you would like to become a great artist
   don't rush to paint, make it best.
   All sorts of paints, badges brushes lay out
   right in front of you, first;
   now you should start choosing paints; take the white one
   it's the beginning, and then
   pick up the yellow paint, it will imply that
   everything ripens, and then
   pick up the gray paint in order that autumn
   might splash the sky pattern with lead,
   pick up the black paint because as is known
   all has beginning and end,
   pick up the violet paint, do not spare it,
   laugh and shed tears, and then
   pick up the blue paint in order that evening
   might nestle down on your palm,
   pick up the red paint in order that fire
   might flicker and, shimmer and then
   pick up the green paint in order that you might
   have twigs to throw into flame.
   Mix up these paints like you mix up emotions
   deep in your heart, after that
   mix up the paints and your heart with both heaven
   and earth, all in one, after that...
   It is important that you burn without
   Being disturbed and upset.
   Someone may censure you in the beginning
   but afterwards will not forget!
  
   1964
  
  
  
   * * *
  
   The word is instant, and life is short.
   Where does man find his dwelling spot?
  
   Where in the world, where in nature's lap
   do the roses of his living soul spring up?
  
   How does he manage to find a way
   to keep to himself, and to have his say,
  
   to sing his songs, walk around the world,
   turn his heart from iron to gold ?
  
   How does he manage a funny man,
   on fairs of kisses and fuss and fun,
  
   amidst flattery, shots and strife,
   to pick out nothing else but love ?
  
   A splinter will draw his blood to jeers :
   "Did you want love ? Now here h it is !"
  
   A slap in the face in the paradise :
   "Did you want love ? Now here's your price!"
  
   And yet he contrives, a funny man,
   on fairs of kisses, wrangles and fun,
  
   amidst flattery, feasts and strife,
   to pick out nothing else but love!
   1964
  
  
  
  
  
  
   MY PORTRAIT DRAWN IN PENCIL
  
   The squeaking pencils softly roll
   for peace and quiet of my soul.
   They squeak incessantly, with care,
   but give a cry they do not dare.
  
   My soul is burning , getting hot,
   but what's a pencil worth? Yes, what?
   Abiding by the rule
   it will tranquil my soul.
  
   ...One final stroke, -- and there it is:
   my drawn image, if you please.
   I've been immortalized...
   but I can't fall and rise;
  
   my temples look unhealthy, dry,
   although my forehead is quite high,
   I stare with indifference
   ahead into the distance..
  
   What shall I call this masterpiece ?
   "The Teacher", "Worker" or "Artiste" ?
   "Numb Witness of the Era?" --
   I'm not a rude believer.
  
   I'm mortal. I am all aflame
   while it's eternal in the frame,
   a prize winner, it is...
   ...but it has got no tears.
  
   1964
  
  
   THE TIMES
  
   Now, again as before,
mothers seem to be fond of their kids, love them dearly.
In the past they did loved them, really,
but often reproached them for sponging,
and spanked them severely.
   Now they keep everything,
just in case, for some future occasion:
alarm, faith, love and tears...
Is it an instinct
or weakness, faint heart,
or is it a historic experience?
   Is it something developing all by itself
that, invisible, hangs in the air,
that has given them fussy and fidgety love
and filled their life with great care?
   Or, unwilling to wait, they now leave to themselves
the right for the last word, or rather
they are anxious to praise, exalt and forgive
and make wonders instead of some other?
   Whatever it is,
however you look,
and no matter what lesson life gives us,
the price of caress and love in this world
again has gone up for some reasons.
   When their sons, their scrawny adorable kids,
lie, tease cats, flood the markets,
in laziness wallow,
it's Abel and Icarus, not Cain and Daedelus,
whom, mothers believe, they will follow.
   And they picture themselves,
through the caprice and wrath,
through the chaos of fuss
of their daughters' whimsy:
now Penelope's grief,
now the arms of Jeanne d'Arc,
now the visage of grand Mona Lisa.
   I can see their eyes full of tears,
and their beautiful eyebrows, raised when they're bothered,
and I cannot imagine
anything else
but for this love of mothers!
  
   1964
  
   1965
   ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  
   THE CIRCUS
   to Yury Nikulin
  
   This is not a park you visit to relax and meditate.
   In a circus one has got to fall and rise, not sit and wait.
  
   Sliding round, round, round right beneath the top
   one must not have any doubts, think of something like a flop.
  
   Dressing up for the occasion doesn't really mean a thing,
   our smile is insincere, and it isn't worth a pin
  
   in the face of purple plumes worn by the horses on the hop,
   in the face of daring actors who don't fear but cherish hope.
  
   Human Hope, you are a creature on the wing, you are so sweet!
   Your old holy substance is amazing, beautiful indeed.
  
   Even if we lose all hopes ( or we have never had such things )
   you are great at spreading out your amazing magic wings
  
   over circus rings and stages, over fairs, shows and balls,
   over horror of spectators and alarm of know-it-alls
  
   you appear as if risen from the dead, alive again,
   to the eye of those who fall and rise, -- not sit in vain.
  
   1965
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   ***
  
   Will you please be so kind as to pull down the blinds, and,
   Nurse, you needn't prepare for me any dope.
   Here they are, right in front of my bed, keeping silent,
   My old creditors: Love and Belief, and great Hope.
  
   Now the short age's son has to settle accounts,
   But the light empty purses drop out of my hand...
   Please don't worry, Belief, don't be sad, and don't frown
   For you still have a lot of your debtors around.
  
   In a helpless and delicate way, feeling sorry,
   And touching its hands with my lips, I will say:
   "Please do not be upset, mother Hope, do not worry,
   for you still have your sons that are here to stay."
  
   Openhanded, to Love empty palms I'll extend, and
   I will hear its soft penitential voice:
   "Don't be sad for the memory hasn't yet faded,
   I have given myself all away for your cause.
  
   But no matter whose hands may have ever caressed you,
   And no matter how ardent your passions have been,
   People's gossip has trebly paid off all your debts, so
   You are even with me ... You are upright and clean!"
  
   I am lounging, clean, in the fade-in of sunrise,
   Right before the emergence of forthcoming day...
   Three benign fair judges, three sisters, three spouses
   For the last time they trust me till I can repay.
  
   1965
  
  
   * * *
  
   My Hope, at this successive session
   will you please play me something special
   and make the blush come off my face,
   just like a horse that goes the pace.
  
   I beg of you please play me something
   in order that there might be nothing :
   nor notes, nor keys, nor peace, nor sky...
   Am I unhappy ?
   It's a lie.
  
   We're yet to cry and laugh and smile
   but not give in
   nor reconcile.
   We haven't passed the main ascent
   and haven't found each other yet.
  
   These streets and lanes are
   like your sisters
   Your playing is their voice, for instance,
   and midnight click of their heels ...
   I have desirous eyes, it seems.
  
   I like so much the way you're playing
   as if you were slowly fading...
   But there is something in your fire,
   I don't know what though I desire.
  
   1965
  
   1967
   -------------------------------------
  
   * * *
   To P. Luspekayev
  
   Look here, your Majesty, Mrs. Separation,
   I am feeling cold with you, that's the revelation.
   Letter from the darling,
   wait, don't tear it off...
   Out of luck in dying,
   I'll have luck in love.
   Look here, you Majesty, Mrs. Alienation,
   ardent was your hugging but with no affection.
   In silky nets you're trying
   to catch me, now lay off...
   Out of luck in dying,
   I'll have luck in love.
   Look here, your Majesty, dear Mrs. Fortune,
   you are good to some of us, to others you're a torture.
   Nine-gram piece of iron
   for the heart's enough...
   Out of luck in dying,
   I'll have luck in love.
   Look here, your Majesty, dear Mrs. Conquest,
   I haven't finished singing as you should have noticed.
   Wretched things, stop lying,
   don't swear an oath on blood...
   Out of luck in dying,
   I'll have luck in love.
  
   1967
  
  
   GEORGIAN SONG
   To M. Kvilividze
  
I shall bury a grape stone in the warm fertile soil by my house,
and I'll kiss the vine twig and gather sweet grapes, my reward,
and I'll call all my friends to the feast, and love in my heart I will rouse...
Otherwise, what's the purpose of living in this lasting world?
  
Dear guests, come to table, I extend you my kind invitation,
tell me straight in my face the opinion of me that you hold,
God almighty will send me forgiveness for my transgression.
Otherwise, what's the purpose of living in this lasting world?
  
Dressed in purple, my charming Dali for me will be singing,
dressed in black, I'll sit bending my head without saying a word,
I'll be listening enchanted and I'll die from deep love and sad feeling...
Otherwise, what's the purpose of living in this lasting world?
  
When the sunset starts swirling and searching the corners around,
May the images float, as if real, again, may them swirl
right in front of my eyes: a blue ox, a white eagle, a trout...
Otherwise, what's the purpose of living at all in this world?
   1967
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   THE OLD STUDENTS' SONG
  
  
   He who will dare our union mar
   deserves the most severe sentence,
   I wouldn't give a grey guitar
   for his damned life and his repentance.
  
   So fervently the age intends
   to knock us down with a feather...
   Let's join our hands my dear friends,
   we won't get lost, if we're together.
  
   At alien feasts on festive days,
   amidst the shaky truths and fairness,
   before we hear the words of praise
   we will spruce up and preen our feathers.
  
   While our stupid plume portends
   a lasting journey, full of care,
   let's join our hands my dear friends,
   let's join our hands, friends, I declare!
  
   When the partition day arrives
   we will not covet bread for gratis
   and we won't get to paradise,
   instead, Ophelia will bless us.
  
   Before the crucial day descends,
   before we for the road prepare
   let's join our hands my dear friends,
   let's join our hands, friends, I declare!
  
   1967
  
  
  
  
  
   THE SONG OF A LONG ROAD
   To V. Zolotukhin
  
  
   You will forget your feast and
   your loss, your joys and sorrows
   the minute as the moon-disk
   its track of travel follows,
   the minute as the owl's
   shade comes into your view,
   the minute as the cricket's
   romance engrosses you.
  
  
   You let the fading beauty
   stand at the door and watch us,
   now proud, now malicious,
   now deaf and blind, now virtuous...
   What do you care about
   her ardent arms in bed ?
   My friend, let's disavow,
   let's soar, my dear friend.
  
  
   The wife will find another
   beloved one, if she wishes,
   some bad one or some good one,
   like you, not very precious.
   As for the road you're fated
   to take it as your due,
   it's like your like mother's tears,
   eternally with you.
  
  
   As long as it is night and
   the carriage keeps a-rolling
   this endless winding road will
   suffice us both for roving.
   Why should you beat your bosom
   in token of remorse ?
   You'll never find, my dear,
   what you have never lost.
  
  
   A pine begets sweet fragrance
   the sky gives healing radiance
   while meagre love engenders
   a pallid child to parents;
   as for the road that stretches...
   as for the road that stretches...
   as for the road that stretches...
  
   1967
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   MY CITY IS ASLEEP
  
   My city is asleep now, but I don't care a bit.
   I was its baby-sitter, I was its little kid.
   Its soldier and its worker, too, I used to be.
   It always had the feeling of striking love for me.
  
   Its helping hand it stretched me in an estranging way
   remembering my week-days, but not my holiday.
   And if I am to perish, and if I cease to be,
   as it wakes up next morning will it remember me?
  
   Will it send charming women late in the afternoon
   to pay me their tribute, cry over me and mourn?
   And yet I love it fiercely, I love it more each day,
   and out of my love I model gods some way.
  
   I don't need anything now, and I have no regrets
   for there's my guitar and a pack of cigarettes.
  
   1967
  
  
   1969
   ---------------------------------------
   MOZART
   To I.B.
  
   Mozart is playing the old little violin,
   Mozart is playing while his violin sings.
   Mozart does not choose, for living, a motherland,
   simply, he plays all his life, as it is.
  
   Well, never mind, that's the way we are destined,
   such is our fate: now we feast, now we fight...
   Keep up your diligent efforts, maestro,
   keep meditating and feeling inspired.
  
   Somewhere around our last destination,
   maybe, we'll thank our fate anyway,
   only I wish that our homeland's transgression
   wouldn't be turned to an idol some day.
  
   Well, never mind, that's the way we are destined,
   such is our fate: now we feast, now we fight...
   Don't give up hope, hold it out, maestro,
   keep meditating and feeling inspired.
  
   Short are the years of our blithe adolescence,
   off they will fly and disperse, in a flash...
   Camisoles, cuffs, golden shoes, silver laces,
   snow-white perukes, and a colorful splash.
  
   Well, never mind, that's the way we are destined,
   such is our fate: now we feast, now we fight...
   Well, let it be, don't pay any attention, maestro,
   keep meditating and feeling inspired.
  
   1969
  
  
   FRANCOIS VILLON'S PRAYER
  
While the world is still turning, and while the daylight is broad,
Oh Lord, pray, please give everyone what he or she hasn't got.
Give the timid a horse to ride, give the wise a bright head,
Give the fortunate money and about me don't forget.
  
While the world is still turning, Lord, You are omnipotent,
Let those striving for power wield it to their heart's content.
Give a break to the generous, at least for a day or two,
Pray, give Cain repentance, and remember me, too.
  
I know You are almighty, and I believe You are wise
Like a soldier killed in a battle believes he's in paradise.
Like every eared creature believes, oh, my Lord, in You,
Like we believe, doing something, not knowing what we do.
  
Oh Lord, oh my sweet Lord, my blue eyed Lord, You're good!
While the world is still turning, wondering, why it should,
While it has got sufficient fire and time, as You see,
Give each a little of something and remember about me!
  
   1969
  
  
   ***
   To Yury Trifonov
  
   Let's shout and rejoice, admire one another.
   About high-flown words we do not need to bother.
   Let's live in mutual praise, make complimentary comments
   For these are, after all, love's great and happy moments.
  
   Let's grieve and cry without concealing feelings, whether
   We're by ourselves or whether we're together.
   About vicious tongues we do not have to bother
   For love and sorrow always accompany each other.
  
   Let mutual understanding attend us at conferring
   So that we prevent our old mistakes recurring.
   Let's get along indulging and pleasing one another
   For life is very short, there won't be any other.
  
  
   1976
   ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
   * * *
   to O. Chukhontsev
  
   Again I've encountered Hope, -- what a happy occasion!
   I have been away while it never has changed its location.
  
   She wears Her fortunate poplin apparel as ever,
   Her eyes, glowing, ardent, are focused on ages ahead.
   You are our sister, and we are Your brethren for ever,
   it's hard to believe life will come to an end.
  
   We know, that You never have promised us wonders.
   When young we envision depicturing what is beyond us;
  
   we write our songs, make our lives, and we don't bear grudges,
   and no one will dare impede us, or get in the way.
   You are our sister, and we are Your previous judges,
   we had our fortune which faded away.
  
   We wish we could bring Love and Hope into one, -- close together,
   it certainly would make a wonderful a picture, we gather !
  
   We then wouldn't have any anguish, -- we would just escape it,
   and only sweet wonderful torments would show on the face.
   You are our sister, but why were we long separated?
   The reasons is youth and old age in this case.
  
   1976
  
   1980
   ----------------------------------------------------
  
   ANOTHER ROMANCE
  
   Imprinted in my soul, I have the portrait of a fair lady.
   Her eyes are fastened on the time of bygone days.
   It's wonderful to be there: all have been excused already,
   there are no strangers, nor there's any fear of years.
  
   The highest choir glorifies her singing songs of praise with feeling,
   and the musicians, dressed in black tail-coats look grand.
   With every note -- good heavens! -- music can be healing...
   And the conductor twists the baton in his hand.
  
   I won't insult my fate by weeping, empty tears shedding,
   but there is one thing that I think of now and then:
   who are we, gentlemen, compared with that fair lady?
   What is our life? Who are our ladies, dear gentlemen?
  
   Perchance, just as before, I'm still in favour of my fair lady,
   for that she's in Heaven's favour, as I know.
   She writes me, certainly, but... all my postmen have grown old already
   And all of my addresses changed long long ago.
  
   1980
  
  
  
   * * *
  
   Wintertime. Night. Flying over the lampshade
   a butterfly struggles:
   wishing to rise high above the precarious fortune
   one bungles.
  
   Now in December a summer time butterfly
   wants to revive,
   not even thinking about
   the Good and the Evil in life.
  
   Is it a butterfly, or just a heavenly angel,
   I wonder,
   fluttering round and cherishing hopes
   for some wonder?
  
   Angel's attending these places
   is not accidental at all,
   once I can clearly see in it
   outline sketch of your soul.
  
   Colds, storms and blizzards are common
   in this part of land at this season.
   When I expressed my regret that we'd failed to take off
   I was teasing.
  
   We have been driven insane by the losses and gains,
   that is why
   now we must use the experience and skill
   of the creatures that fly.
  
   Strange that you tolerate us leggy, queer
   and spectacled creatures,
   during occasional meetings
   you laud our excellent features.
  
   Is it because we have broken our backs
   so we finally could
   figure the distance between the old notions
   of Evil and Good?
  
   Therefore, now since we don't have to get
   into that calculation
   let us believe, let us hope
   that I'll see you on summer vocation.
  
   One might assume that it's only in summer
   that life is unending...
   There is the fluttering angel up there ...
   Who knows what is pending...
  
   1980
  
  
   1982
   ----------------------------------------------------------
   * * *
  
   Sound of trumpet over cities
   made us weak, as tired as dogs,
   we were on the run like sprinters,
   and we hit the ground like rocks.
  
   Just a set of keys and buttons,
   valves, the beauty of the brass;
   the explosion, like white cotton,
   seems to be quite safe to us.
  
   Just a single chord of tonal
   notes of sound, long and short,
   puts an end to the eternal
   earthly life and common lot.
  
   Shall we let the trumpet bravely
   make its lovely loud noise
   talking to us in a friendly
   confidential tone of voice?
  
   Golden, with the tint of ear,
   reddish, with the tint of brass,
   its rejoicing voice we hear,
   to live and die it calls on us.
  
   As if bursting into action
   I'm following it again,
   I, a tempted man of passion,
   man of fifty, blind but sane..
  
   Shall I disregard the sound,
   feeling bad will be the best?..
   Make pretence?
   Or face about?
   Tear it out of my chest?..
   1982
  
   1983
   --------------------------------------------
   THE MUSICIAN
   To I. Schvarts
  
   The musician played the violin, and I looked into his eyes.
   It was not that I was curious, I was flying in the skies.
  
   Not because I found it boring, I just tried to understand:
   how on earth such sounds could be ever made by human hand
  
   from a simple piece of wood, and from a string, a cord of a kind,
   from a fantasy, ideas, he was true to, in his mind.
  
   One at least must be aware of how to press the fingers right,
   so that the majestic sounds might not vanish in the night.
  
   He must also penetrate us, light a fire, burn our soul...
   After all, why should he care, why should he spare us at all?
  
   Happy is a home where violin puts us wise and bids us best,
   give us hope and inspiration... We'll take care of the rest..
  
   Happy is an instrument that to the clumsy shoulder's pressed,
   now I happen to be flying by its magic music blessed.
  
   Happy is the one whose path is short, who plays by sleight of hand,
   the musician that has made out of my soul a burning brand.
  
   And a burnt soul, as is known, (there's no doubt about that),
   is more righteous and more fair, more benign, in point of fact.
  
   1983
  
   1985
   ---------------------------------------------
   * * *
  
   After rain the sky
   is so vast and clear
   both the brass and dew
   are as bright as day.
   Sounds of flute and horn,
   flowing, reach my ear,
   the conductor is
   up to fly away.
  
   Brass-bands of the past
   in my heart resound,
   not the war time bands,
   but from peaceful days;
   vanished is the tune,
   spreading all around
   but the vocalist
   doesn't show his face.
  
   We have women here,
   they are all dressed out,
   and the cherry-trees
   are in blossom now.
   Taken by surprise,
   maybe, we'll luck out
   and we'll meet again
   in the park, somehow.
  
   But from bygone days
   and from bygone hazards,
   I complain, lament
   and solicit, but
   those nostalgic tunes,
   splitting up in currents,
   flow like somber, murky
   streams into my heart.
  
   (stage performance, 1985)
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   * * *
  
   Life is fine but it's strange, for a wonder,
   and as short as the stroke of the pen;
   now it's time to slow down and ponder
   on its wound and the torturous pain.
  
   Now it's time to be thoughtful and serious
   while we live we should muse and think hard:
   what is there behind most mysterious,
   darkest corner of human heart?
  
   They may say things are quite inauspicious
   but we must learn the lesson and rules :
   never beg for the pitiful pieces
   of benevolence, mercy and truth.
  
   In the face of the epochal issues
   (though it's rights we shouldn't curtail),
   we should not fish for pitiful pieces
   but exert ourselves tooth and nail.
  
   (stage performance, 1985)
  
  
  
  
  
  
   1986
   --------------------------------------
  
   THE OMEN
  
   If a crow flies around,
   then a war is to break out.
   If we let it whirl in flight,
   if we let it whirl in flight,
   then we're all to go to fight.
  
   To prevent the bloody war
   we just have to kill the crow.
   And to kill the vicious crow,
   and to kill the vicious crow
   we must charge the guns of war.
  
   Once we charge the guns, we will
   want to go to shoot and kill.
   Once we open fire and shoot,
   once we open fire and shoot
   stupid bullets will make good.
  
   For a bullet all is one.
   It will hit just anyone,
   friend or foe, -- just anyone,
   all and every singe one,
   All and sundry, everyone!
  
   Now there isn't anyone,
   any woman any man,
   there is nothing, there is none,
   just a crow, all on its own
   and no one to shoot it down.
  
   1986
  
   * * *
  
   The music of the soul is flat,
   the music of attack is loud;
   but make no haste about that,
   you may be wrong in making out
   that music of attack is loud,
   and music of the soul is flat.
  
   The louder is the attack,
   the sweeter are the lights around;
   and that's the way it was, in fact,
   when I was wandering about:
   the sweeter are the lights around,
   the louder is the attack.
  
   It's been believed for ages long,
   and up to now it's true as ever:
   the louder's the winner's song
   the bitterer's the loss and favor
   for up to now it's true as ever
   what's been believed for ages long.
  
   We think it runs in our blood
   it's not what we have learned or borrowed
   the purer's the tune of love
   the louder's the tune of sorrow;
   the louder's the tune of sorrow
   the higher is the tune of love.
   (from sound recording, 1986)
  
  
  
   * * *
   to Y. Kim
  
   What can I do for you, grasshopper, dear,
   when with your song of praise you get ahead?
   It cures one of grief, just lend an ear,
   just listen, and it will revive the dead.
  
   You touch a string, I wonder how you make it,
   so that the chorus suddenly joins in,
   mysterious, impassioned, elevated,
   concurrent chorus of your kith and kin...
  
   Is it a miracle or mystification,
   about to descend from heaven underneath,
   that makes you break the secret of confession
   backed by the chorus, loudly, with ease ?
  
   You, too, belong to the cohort of poets
   immortal kinship of creative men...
   Keep crying, maybe, your endeavours, poems,
   in future won't be treated with disdain.
  
   I want to praise a poet out loud.
   for his insanity and his untiring hand,
   he strains his voice, he'll certainly top out
   and come into his own in the end.
  
   (from sound recording, 1986)
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   ***
   I cannot gather birch-trees for a ball.
   The firs are silent in a chilly chorus.
   The cry of a cuckoo is rolling to the forest,
   despaired, like a tiny little ball.
  
   And yet I'm waiting for some words to range,
   some precious words beyond evaluation
   (it's like an actor's perfect estimation
   of someone's words he brings onto the stage).
  
   For hope will always have a happy hue,
   reliable and sort of magic,
   particularly so when you imagine
   and see there isn't any hope for you.
  
   (from sound recording, 1986)
  
   Music
   The clear notes of organ jolting
   now two by two, now note by note,
   and silky running knots of hangman's halter
   are ruthless, tightening on my throat.
  
   In front of me the music dances, supple,
   and every little thing awakens and revives:
   the guilty smile of speck, so subtle,
   adorns the depth of her majestic eyes !
  
   The night mosquito is as slim as hussar,
   there is a woman, no one cares who she is,
   (she holds a book of poems to her bosom),
   an aged man goes down on his knees.
  
  
   and every motion seems to be tremendous,
   the dying twig is still alive and light...
   I feel ashamed for all my small endeavors
   and for the words that cannot be set right.
  
  
   ...it's power of music. You can hardly
   dispute with it in such a simple way,
   as if the trumpets were calling hotly
   for a campaign somewhere far away..
  
   The fast impetuous flesh of music scatter
   and float and shout to somebody on the shore:
   "Where are you off to? Does it really matter?"
   What is it? Why on earth? What for?
   ...Hell, aren't you sick and tired of this patter?
  
   (from sound recording, 1986)
  
  
  
  
  
   * * *
   to F. Iskander
  
   Youth goes by, and very quickly,
   stealing our happy days.
   What is fated to befall us
   will inevitably happen:
   maybe, something great and wonderful
   will come all of a sudden
   Maybe, something worthless, something vain
   will come in an embrace.
  
  
   So don't save your love and kindness
   in a storehouse for reserve,
   don't save charity and mercy
   for a rainy day. It's useless,
   for your bitter futile efforts
   will be lost as vain and worthless
   Early wrinkles will be all that
   you will have for all your nerve.
  
  
   It's a pity youth passed swiftly,
   and old age is quickly spent.
   All is plain to see and clear:
   injured soul and sweaty forehead...
   But there won't be any riddles,
   any errors, grave and horrid,
   nothing but the road that stretches,
   straight and even, to the end.
  
   (from sound recording, 1986)
  
  
  
   * * *
  
  
   Tell me, what is the shipping route of your boat
   to the very last day and with all its might?
   When I breathe my last and I come to naught
   you will ask me whatever I lived for, right?
  
   I will stand the trial on Judgment Day,
   with my soul in smoke and my head ablaze...
   Where's my land? It's my home where I stay,
   I'll assume all your sins, as an act of grace.
  
   Through tears and wars, and through roses and grass
   I have carried your sins on me all the way
   Though my life has been playful and funny, per chance,
   but somebody needs it, too, anyway.
  
   )from sound recording, 1986)
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   THE LUCKY DEVIL
  
   Alexander Pushkin is quite all right!
   He's fine, he's made it!
   The wheel of the mill is buzzing outside,
   the pain has faded,
  
   The nan peeps out from the hut near side,
   there are larks up in air,
   it's only ten minutes' ride
   to the nearest fair.
  
   Whatever he does he does it well,
   his trade is exciting.
   A thick-lipped man, he's learned like hell
   and his quill is biting.
  
   He'd been to Odessa and the Crimea,
   he'd ride in a carriage,
   he'd borrow money from near and dear
   until that challenge.
  
   Exceedingly quiet and polite at times,
   tired of working too hard,
   the cops would read his beautiful rhymes
   and learn them by heart.
  
   Even the tsar would kindly extend
   his invitation,
   he'd call the poet with the intent
   to make conversation.
  
   He loved beautiful women and girls,
   his love wasn't "duly",
   and he was killed, as the story goes,
   by a handsome bully.
  
  
   He wielded a witty pen,
   to crackle of candle he'd scribble it.
   He had something to die for then
   on the bank of the rivulet.
  
   (from sound recording, 1986)
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   Alexander Pushkin
   to S. Shipachev
  
   I cannot imagine Pushkin without snow a-falling
   I mean the bronze Pushkin with a raincoat on.
   When snowflakes fall from the sky a-whirling
   it seems that the bronze softly clinks dong...dong...
  
   I can't imagine my homeland without this sound.
   It has taken root deep in its heart
   along with his shabby worn green gown,
   his walking stick and a quill in his hand.
  
   .Keep clinking, bronze. You'll get warm, keep clinking
   Snowflakes, fall on his shoulders of bronze...
   Some people carouse, some indulge in feasting
   Pushkin, to a house-party he goes.
  
   And while we are hurrying towards prosperity
   giving up hope for glory and fame,
   His Majesty's Guards arrange a celebrity,
   and the guests are invited to table by Dame.
  
  
   Everyone there, without exception,
   is right in the face of the world and love.
   Why are we cautious? That's not the discretion.
   Can we be formal with our age? Not half.
  
   Excitement is flaring on Pushkin Square
   with chirping of trams, tears, smiles and all.
   Now don't you be fussy! No fortune is there...
   The poet really remembers us all.
  
   1986
  
   * * *
   Constructor, Build A Home For Me,
   I' M Serious, No Kidding,
   Around The House There Should Be
   Green Woods With Birds A-Singing.
  
   Please, Build The House, Loving Me,
   With Shrewd Deliberation,
   And See To It That It Should Be
   Quite A Unique Erection.
  
   Don't Build It Following A Scheme,
   But Let It Be Non-Standard,
   Build Using Feeling And Day Dream,
   Be Genuine And Ardent.
  
   Just Build It Like You Write A Verse,
   Or Like You Paint A Picture
   Running The Risk For All You're Worth
   Use Sketches Of Your Nature.
  
   (from sound recording, 1986)
  

  • © Copyright Okudzhava (vagalec@rambler.ru)
  • : 06/11/2007, : 17/02/2009. 97k. .
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