Yevegeny Yevtushenko. Collection of Poems. Translated from the Russian by Alec vagapov
Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Collection of Poems in English. Part1 YEVGENY YEVTUSHENKO COLLECTION OF POEMS (translated from the Russian by Alec Vagapov) 1952-1965 Wings The Palace Do Not Tell Lies To Children... In Indiscriminate Temptation You Are Big And Courageous At Loving... They Told Me, Somewhere In India Anger We're stiff and numb when seized with feeling, Like The Four Points To A Ship... For People I Have Greed... Great Talent Is Alarming... You're Crying Bitterly, My Darling... The Last Mammoth The Ice It Later Comes As Such A Revelation... Beware Of Grecian False Endearment... I'm Burying My Friend, I Suppose... Career My Dog I Am Suffering - Good Gracious! ... On Translation They Say That I'm Brave... In Chase Of Cheap Popularity The Knock At The Door Rockets And Carts When Suddenly I Saw You Rise... The Doors The Scoundrel's Advice You're Quite Sincere And Have No Pretence... I Don't Give Up, Although I Do Give In... To Women The Monologue Of The Beatniks Human Beings I Am An Angel The Third Memory I Want To Be A Little Bit Old-Fashioned... They Laughed Behind The Wall Enchantment Is A Wonderful Sensation... New Times Have Set In Nowadays... Don't waste your time... The Fate Of Names Which Of Contemporary Writers... I'm Out Of Love With You... Human Life In This Century... At Times Of Seeming Drastic Changes... Snow Flakes Are Falling... Autumn A Genuine Poet's Instant Rhyme ________________________________________ Wings 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, - up it flew. 1952 THE PALACE There is some idea behind a fairy tale, and I recall the dream I had long, long ago: I sit on a sea-shore, I'm a daring fellow, leaning on my axe, downhearted, feeling low. Our good old tsar had asked me to come over, and he said the following to me: 'You are poorly dressed, your clothes are patched all over, and your shoes are quite worn out, as I see. Here's 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. You let out birds, laid bridges here and there, then you said: 'Calm 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. 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. It does not occur to people, blinded by the marvels, that the genuine creator isn't really me, that I've neither built that white stone palace nor laid out those gardens on the sea... 1952 *** Do not 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. 1952-1989 *** 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 'love' 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, - 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. 1953 *** 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. I imagine, you're leading me down through a wood with no path and no way. In waist-high wildflowers we are drowned, I'm wondering: 'What flowers are they? ' All my skills are quite useless and shaky. I don't know what to do and how. You are tired. You want me to take you in your arms. There! I've taken you now. 'There 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! ' Yes, but where shall I carry you? ... 1953 *** They told me, somewhere in India there's 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 can't get over it. The clay has stuck like a burned brand, I can't remove it from my forehead, I just can't 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. 1954 ANGER I hear people say with discontent: ' 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, a freak. Slapped in the face, I'd turn the other cheek. Somebody cut the tail of flabbiness to make me angry and get rid of humbleness! I'll tell you now about real anger, it's when you sit at table feeling rancor, hold staid and priggish conversations, use sugar-tongues, your manners gracious. But when you offer me a cup of tea I don't feel bored, I watch you carefully. I humbly drink my tea, giving the hosts their due, and, hiding claws, extend my hand to you. I'd like to tell you more about anger... It's when they whisper to me: 'You are younger and less experienced, you'd better write and take your time, - don't 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. I'm not as humble as I used to be, when I'm cross life is more int'resting to me! 1955 * * * We're stiff 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, it's just like ent'ring a hostile house where we have to fire a shot. What shall we do - 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 'n excuse, and, turning round, throw the revolver into the water, still unused. 1955 *** Like the four points to a ship, you're my four directions. I love you. My love is deep, vast, immense and spacious. On the first, the closest side you're my dear wife and bride. On the second, - mark my word, - you're my sister. On the third you're my daughter helping me feel as young as I can be. On the fourth side of my life you're my mother... in my wife. 1955-1995 *** For people I have greed, my greed is strong indeed. It's 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 eavesdropp every man and spy on everyone. And to my great dismay I haven't got a chance to see all right away and hear all at once! 1954 * * * We're stiff 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, it's just like ent'ring a hostile house where we have to fire a shot. What shall we do - 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 'n excuse, and, turning round, throw the revolver into the water, still unused. 1955 *** Great talent is alarming, alien: turning one's head, making it hot, it isn't 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 someone's 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 you'd piled up beneath the waves. But those who childishly as ever believed in you in your bad times, expecting your support and favour, - to-day lament and change their minds. You get along in peace and quiet, you're fond of being praised, extolled; it shows that talent is expired when it's unable to revolt. 1956 *** You're crying bitterly, my darling, the reason for it is, I think, that you're incapable of loving, and you are not worth anything. I kiss your hand, so wet and warm, and talk nonsense, chattering to you, I feel excruciating torment upon your fingers when I do. You shake your ear-rings and tease, in reading cards you take delight, but deep at heart you're all in tears, the whole of you just screams inside. You burst out sobbing for the moment and I was taken by surprise: I saw the unprotected torment of your unchecked, impetuous eyes. 1956 THE LAST MAMMOTH He dragged His feet amidst the mammals along the frozen glacier stream. There'd been a lot of such big mammoths, he was the last one, it would seem. Gone through the mill and the nightmare of storms and whirls, He now gave in. For once he found it hard to bear the arrows stuck into His skin. He tried to bellow, losing powers, to make the echo turn the tide, but he fell down, and the arrows went, piercing, deep into His side. Somebody wished His skin devoutly, while the distributor of meat was working with a stone knife artfully and competently cutting it. If only they, so good at hunting, knew that their progenies would find the dreadful mammoths more exciting than elephants, the humble kind, and that his tusks, well tried and tempered in struggle, as he forced His way, his solid tusks, not yet surrendered, would be exposed for show some day! ! 1956 THE ICE I can hardly discern you. My eyes! I'm amazed at what water can cause! We're on opposite sides of the ice separated by drifting floes. Trees and houses are thin and light. Swaying maples are pale and slim. Voices, landing on water, slide down the river along with the stream. Blocks of ice moan and sink breaking way, thin as ice you appear to be, and the river is dragging away bits of path between you and me. 1956 *** It later comes as such a revelation And pangs of conscience tantalize us so when in somebody's open, frank confession we fail to see the shrewdness of a foe. And keeping vigilance like guardians of purity, forgetting lessons of the past, again we take the restless simple immaturity for an unscrupulous ambition, with disdain. Suspecting others isn't good, by any means. A people's judge must have a vision sense. We hastily take friends for bitter enemies, which is much worse than taking foes for friends. 1956 *** I fear the Greeks, even when they offer gifts... Virgil Beware of Grecian false endearment, don't trust them when they flatter you. Do not be tempted to appeasement, you will have trouble if you do. They back you up, they give you praise and they are intentionally kind, and when they offer you their present they rob you of your heart and mind. Don't be mislead. Behind their praises there's something you should bring to light: not what they wear on their faces but what is hidden from one's sight. May you be filled with indignation, may you be scolded, blamed, abused, but don't be bribed with adoration nor with a cosy life induced. 1957 * * * 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, - 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. 1957 CAREER 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... 'Careerist' 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, - they were 'seeking 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. 1957 * * * We're stiff 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, it's just like ent'ring a hostile house where we have to fire a shot. What shall we do - 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 'n excuse, and, turning round, throw the revolver into the water, still unused. 1955 MY DOG 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. 1958 *** I am suffering - good gracious! - wouldn't wish it to a foe. On the brink of losing patience, I can't make it any more. I am suffering from tears, laughter, shortage and excess, all is painful, it appears, fame, obscurity, success... But my sufferings and torments, do they have any importance when the world turns out to be like a sea of pains and sorrows lying right in front of me? It is suffering, huge and hopeless, from the light and night-dark tortures, wishing it would not be homeless, wishing joy and bread and salt. In its torments there's some weakness, in its torments there's some sweetness, and some sanctity I witness in the torments of the world. 1959 ON TRANSLATION A free translation is not a fault. A loving man has a poetic license. But if a melody is spoilt, - 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. 1959 IN CHASE OF CHEAP POPULARITY I shall be 30 soon, and I'm a hero of parodies and rhymes that rail and scold. With one accord they claim that I'm a bearer of all the sins and vices in the world. Some people tell me that I write to please, in chase of cheap success and popularity. They will be claiming shortly that I breathe in chase of cheap success and popularity. Some day, I know, I'll die, and I will try to do it quietly, it won't be loud. I hope that in that way I'll mollify and soothe the crowd of the haggard and worn out. I will not set a cunning goal of any kind. But someone, in a rage, will say, with clarity, contemptuously hissing, that I died in chase of cheap success and popularity. 1957-1961 THE KNOCK AT THE DOOR 'Who's there? ' 'I'm Old Age. I've come after you.' 'Not now. I'm busy. I've got things to do.' I did some writing, eating. Then I made a call. I opened up the door. There was no one there at all. Perhaps, it was a friend of mine? ... Just playing? ... Or I just didn't hear what the voice was saying? It wasn't Old Age. Maturity came by which couldn't wait and left me with a sigh... 1959 ROCKETS AND CARTS The granny's cart should not be humbled, It's done its job, the good old cart. But very often - well, God damn it - I see it in the works of art. I'm far from being glad and jovial at seeing my colleague's cart, - his novel. We've launched those super lunar cars, while our operas are - carts. The spirit of old tarry settings! What we expose are carts - not paintings. 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 a cart. Your art for diligence is heartened, endowed with ranks, for glory groomed, yet it's as squalid as a cart, and at times of rockets it is doomed! 1959 * * * 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 colours. I'm scared that there may be the end of sudden revelation, and tears and joys and admiration, but I don't struggle with my fear. This fear is nothing else but love. I foster it thought I can't do it, and, putting up with fears I have, I guard my love from being ruined. I'm bound down by this fear. The colours won't last long, you bet; for me they all will disappear if, like the sun, your face should set. 1960 THE DOORS A little bag in hand, she looks at me; her slanting eyes, a bit surprised, stare me out. Her golden rings of curls appear to be like golden question marks, as signs of doubt. Here is her house, lumpy, dark and all. A house with a pompous sullen glare. I never went inside, as far as I recall, and never will, thank God, and I don't care. Outside her door we say our good-byes; she kisses me, caressing, - such a dear! But there is something in her quiet eyes that causes pain and sorrow, mixed with fear. I can't suppress, nor drown my fear in wine! I know her woman's tricky 'golden virtue': she'll kiss you tenderly, caress you like divine then shut he door and right away forget you. With time the doors have made me wise, of course. They've taught me bitter lessons of a demon. Many a time behind the either side of doors I've been so artfully betrayed by women. I hear music play. It's 'sol-fa' scale, I gather... Again some recollections fill my heart. I know what you are like when we're together. I wonder what you're like when we're apart. 1959 THE SCOUNDREL'S ADVICE The scoundrel's advice is devilishly humble. You've done a lot of trouble, you scoundrel's advice! Wild giggles, phoney sorrows, false sweat, deceitful eyes... There are so many followers of scoundrel's advice. You wanted to renew your life, and be so nice... Why did you listen to the scoundrel's advice? How come you took it? How? Why were you so unwise? So your advice is now a scoundrel's advice. 1960 *** You're quite 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. 1960 *** They say that I'm brave, which isn't true. I've never been courageous, and I know it. I just believe that it's unworthy of a poet to stoop to cowardice, as colleagues do. I'm not a trouble maker of a kind and never sapped my country's foundations. I just ridiculed falsehood, And I spoke my mind by writing poems, not denunciations. I do defend the gifted men, it is true, while wretched writers, the go-getters, I disparage. But that is something one just ought to do, it's not a sign of bravery and courage. The future generations, with disgrace, combating vicious practices and devilry will recollect the oddity of days when honesty was looked upon as bravery! 1960 *** I don't give up, although I do give in. Of late I haven't 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 can't 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. I'm 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, - that's what the gist of self expression is. 1961 TO WOMEN 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? - I don't know. And the women, armed with crow-bars, shout: 'Look, 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? - 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. 1961 THE 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 defence, as powerful as a teenager's 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. They'd write about us telling our story, they'd screen our trash - we didn't 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 saviour 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 Mephistopheles' sneer, as ever, like a shadow, follows us. We'd give it up, but we can't work it out. There is no way: our boats we had to burn. We've sold our souls to irony, without receiving lovely Marg'ret in return. You irony have buried us alive, we know the bitter truth, but we can't help it; our irony has managed to survive, it laughs ironically, weary and decrepit. 1961 HUMAN BEINGS To S. Preobrazhensky All humans are noteworthy. Their lives Resemble those of planets in the skies. Each is specific and unique indeed, No planet is identical to it. If someone lived an unobtrusive life, And unobtrusiveness was in his line, People took interest in him because Such an uninteresting man he was. Each human has his own inmost world With the happiest moment to be recalled, With the most frightful moment to shake off; But those are things that we know nothing of. And when a person draws his final breath Everything goes the way of all the earth For with the death he takes along with him First snow, first kiss, first battle - everything. It's true that bridges, paintings, books, machines Remain, along with other things, It's true that many things are here to stay, But something is to perish anyway. Such is the rule of game, in other words, It's 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 don't 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. 1962 I AM AN ANGEL I do no drink. I love my wife. My own wife - one ought to know it. Indeed, I live an angel's life - 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! I'm at a loss. My heart may break. The wings are growing! I can't like it! What I shall have to do is make two holes for wings in my new jacket. I'm an angel. It's no joke. Yet with my life I'm not offended. I'm an angel. But I smoke for I'm nicotine-dependent. The angel's life is queer and hard. You have no flesh but only spirit. There are nice women all around, I'm an angel, and they feel it! They disregard me, leave me flat, as long as I'm at heaven level, but, mind, it is a former angel that will make the most appalling devil! 1962 THE THIRD MEMORY 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 we're 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 don't feel fresh. But there is yet another memory and it's 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 mother's 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 horse's withers in the mizzle. Then we'll express apologies: 'I 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, it's fair enough I'll pay the price quite willingly. But ups and downs of our fate and our big or little losses, - is it a high price to be paid for all your beauties, charms and glosses? ! ' 1963 *** 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 that's pompously done, and listening only to the voice of conscience! - 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 I'm 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. 1963 *** Enchantment is a wonderful sensation. But it can also be a menacing temptation... However, we don't care and don't mind: amidst the vanity it's our revelation, and we are save and happy since we're blind. We bravely put ourselves through our paces, The sighted think we're silly, but they're 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 sceptics 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 isn't wisdom, nor one's power of judgment, nor life experience's doubtful pride, it's 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 don't think that he is a blind man anyway - we tend to think ourselves to be short-sighted... 1963 THEY LAUGHED BEHIND THE WALL Somebody laughed behind the wall, I stared at it, sad and lonely, and in my arms I had my soul, my ailing daughter, fading slowly. They laughed behind the wall as though they were making fun and teasing. They laughed at me, and it was so disgraceful, shameless and displeasing! It was a feast. They seemed to be relaxing, tired of dancing round. In fact, they didn't laugh at me, nor anyone as I found out. They laughed and joked behind the wall, (what they were drinking wasn't water) , and they were not aware at all of me, nor of my ailing daughter. They were laughing... I recall I, too, would often laugh, elated, while somebody behind the wall was fading, and he couldn't help it! Despaired by trouble, feeling grim, about to give in, resigning, he thought that I was teasing him and even mocking and deriding. Such is the world. Once and for all it's been established, as it were: when someone weeps behind the wall we laugh rejoicing, free of care. And that's the reason why the world is never fading, it appears: somebody laughs behind the wall while we're down shedding tears. When broken-hearted, keep your soul without sin, just show your lenience, - if someone laughs behind the wall don't take it as a jealous grievance. Life seems to balance all, so don't give way to envy, - pain and torture, for your misfortune is atoned by someone's lucky chance and fortune. When you receive the final call and shut your eyes at the last minute let people laugh behind the wall, yes, laugh, not cry and morn, I mean it! 1963 *** New times have set in nowadays, and they have brought along new names. They dash around, run and fuss make enemies and kick up rows; they cause discomfort and privation, stir up annoyance and vexation. But they are 'leaders'. There are girls awaiting them in rains and whirls, and peer through the darkness, collating their smartness. But where are your downright foes? It's hard to find them, I suppose. Oh there they are! Looking so friendly, they smile and nod approval gently. And where are your girls? Yes, where? It's raining, and they should take care, bewaring of getting wet - they'll have to nurse grandchildren yet. They've stolen all your enemies, the gentle footsteps which you miss, they've stolen someone's whisper... All that remains is wisdom. Why are you sad, you poor thing? Haven't you stolen anything from anyone without even keeping count? Young age is larceny and bluff, and that's the miracle of life: there's no evaporation, there's only transformation. Do not be envious. Be wise. Just spare the happy thievish guys. No matter how they fool about, they, too, will be cleaned out. New times will come some of these days, and they will bring along new names. 1963 *** Don't waste your time, don't keep the bad in mind for it impedes your freedom, at your instance. In fact, it hampers work and causes hindrance, it's much too troublesome, a real bind! But bear the good in mind, and give the due to God and all around you for endearment. Just try, and you will see it isn't hard to do, and, incidentally, it all won't take a minute. 1964 THE FATE OF NAMES New times have set in nowadays, and they have brought along new names. They dash around, run and fuss make enemies and kick up rows; they cause discomfort and privation, stir up annoyance and vexation. But they are 'leaders'. There are girls awaiting them in rains and whirls, and peer through the darkness, collating their smartness. But where are your downright foes? It's hard to find them, I suppose. Oh there they are! Looking so friendly, they smile and nod approval gently. And where are your girls? Yes, where? It's raining, and they should take care, bewaring of getting wet - they'll have to nurse grandchildren yet. They've stolen all your enemies, the gentle footsteps which you miss, they've stolen someone's whisper... All that remains is wisdom. Why are you sad, you poor thing? Haven't you stolen anything from anyone without even keeping count? Young age is larceny and bluff, and that's the miracle of life: there's no evaporation, there's only transformation. Do not be envious. Be wise. Just spare the happy thievish guys. No matter how they fool about, they, too, will be cleaned out. New times will come some of these days, and they will bring along new names. 1964 * * * Which of contemporary writers is most acute and up-to-date? Perhaps, as a judge I am not righteous, - 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: 'To be or not to be'. 1964 * * * I'm out 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! - the train whistle's in our ears ringing, Don't promise! - 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 abusive empty sounds, lies, rudeness, sneering, laughing, 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. 1965 * * * Human life in this century has a quite small value, as it were... Beneath the wings of the dove of Picasso there's 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 it's 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 soldiers' wives, watch their husbands, guilty though guiltless, go to join in these rigorous fights. 1965 * * * At times of seeming drastic changes 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. 1965 * * * 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 they're 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 I'll 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 may've 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. immortality... well... If Russia keeps living I'll keep living as well. 1965 AUTUMN It's autumn time inside me, as I feel. It's cool and lucid, and I see quite clearly, although I'm sad, I am not despaired, really, and I am filled with patience and good will. And if, at times, I do get wild indeed, I do it when I fade and leave my foliage, and then I come to sad and simple knowledge that rage and rampage isn't what we need. But what we really need is just a chance to see the raging world and our own selves in all the bareness of autumn spells, when we can see all through, at once. Enlightenment is the child of peace and calm. So never mind if we don't rage and riot. We'd better shuffle off all wrangles and keep quiet in order that we see new foliage come. Something has happened to me, for I trust and I rely exclusively on silence where leaves pile on the ground, tired of violence, and turn, inaudibly, to earth and dust. Then you see all, like from a mountain bed, when you can dropp your foliage duly, and when your inner autumn gently, coolly, will put its airy palpi on your head. 1965 *** A genuine poet's instant rhyme, 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 he's connected. Beside himself, he runs ahead, away from fame and exaltation, remorseful, yet he keeps his head, defying self-humiliation. 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 he's 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 God's volition, he'll say: ' My God, forgive me, pray! ..' - 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. 1965
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