“Requiem” by Anna Akhmatova
Composed in 1935-1940, but not written down until the mid-1950s
INSTEAD OF A PREFACE
In the awful days of the Yezhovschina I passed seventeen months in the outer waiting line of the prison visitors in
Leningrad. Once, somebody ‘identified’ me there. Then a woman, standing behind me in the line, which, of
course, never heard my name, waked up from the torpor, typical for us all there, and asked me, whispering into
my ear (all spoke only in a whisper there):
“And can you describe this?”
And I answered:
“Yes, I can.”
Then the weak similarity of a smile glided over that, what had once been her face.
April 1, 1957; Leningrad
DEDICATION Mid its prisons swung gray Leningrad.
And, when mad from the tortures’ succession,
The high crags decline before this woe, Marched the army of those, who’d been doomed,
The great river does not flow ahead, Sang the engines the last separation
But they’re strong – the locks of a jail, stone, With their whistles through smoking gloom,
And behind them – the cells, dark and low, And the deathly stars hanged our heads over
And the deadly pine is spread. And our Russia writhed under the boots –
For some one, somewhere, a fresh wind blows, With the blood of the guiltless full-covered –
For some one, somewhere, wakes up a dawn – And the wheels on Black Maries’ black routes.
We don’t know, we’re the same here always,
We just hear the key’s squalls, morose, 1
And the sentry’s heavy step alone;
Got up early, as for Mass by Easter, You were taken away at dawn’s mildness.
Walked the empty capital along I convoyed you, as my dead-born child,
To create the half-dead peoples’ throng. Children cried in the room’s half-grey darkness,
The sun downed, the Neva got mister, And the lamp by the icon lost light.
But our hope sang afar its song. On your lips dwells the icon kiss’s cold
There’s a sentence… In a trice tears flow… On your brow – the cold sweet … Don’t forget!
Now separated, cut from us, Like a wife of the rebel of old
As if they’d pulled out her heart and thrown On the Red Square, I’ll wail without end.
Or pushed down her on a street stone –
But she goes… Reels… Alone at once. 2
Where are now friends unwilling those,
Those friends of my two years, brute? The quiet Don bears quiet flood,
What they see in the Siberian snows, The crescent enters in a hut.
In a circle of the moon, exposed?
To them I send my farewell salute. He enters with a cap on head,
He sees a woman like a shade.
PROLOGUE This woman’s absolutely ill,
This woman’s absolutely single.
In this time, just a dead could half-manage
A weak smile – with the peaceful state glad. Her man is dead, son – in a jail,
And, like some heavy, needless appendage, Oh, pray for me – a poor female!
The word, like a heavy stone,
No, ‘tis not I, ‘tis someone’s in a suffer – Fell on my still living breast.
I was ne’er able to endure such pain. I was ready. I didn’t moan.
Let all, that was, be with a black cloth muffled, I will try to do my best.
And let the lanterns be got out ... and reign
just Night. I have much to do my own:
To forget this endless pain,
4 Force this soul to be stone,
Force this flesh to live again.
You should have seen, girl with some mocking manner,
Of all your friends the most beloved pet, Just if not … The rustle of summer
The whole Tsar Village’s a sinner, gayest ever – Feasts behind my window sell.
What should be later to your years sent. Long before I’ve seen in slumber
How, with a parcel, by The Crosses, here, This clear day and empty cell.
You stand in line with the ‘Three Hundredth’ brand
And, with your hot from bitterness a tear, 8
Burn through the ice of the New Year, dread.
The prison’s poplar’s bowing with its brow, TO DEATH
No sound’s heard – But how many, there,
The guiltless ones are loosing their lives now… You’ll come in any case – why not right now,
5 I wait for you – my strain is highest.
I have doused the light and left opened the door
I’ve cried for seventeen long months, For you, so simple and so wondrous.
I’ve called you for your home, Please, just take any sight, which you prefer to have:
I fell at hangmen’ feet – not once, Thrust in – in the gun shells’ disguises,
My womb and hell you’re from. Or crawl in with a knife, as an experienced knave,
All has been mixed up for all times, Or poison me with smoking typhus,
And now I can’t define Or quote the fairy tale, grown in the mind of yours
Who is a beast or man, at last, And known to each man to sickness,
And when they’ll kill my son. In which I’d see, at last, the blue of the hats’ tops,
There’re left just flowers under dust, And the house-manager, ‘still fearless’.
The censer’s squall, the traces, cast It’s all the same to me. The cold Yenisei lies
Into the empty mar… In the dense mist, the Northern Star – in brightness,
And looks strait into my red eyes And a blue shine of the beloved eyes
And threads with death, that’s coming fast, Is covered by the last fear-darkness.
The immense blazing star.
Already madness, with its wing,
The light weeks fly faster here, Covers a half of my heart, restless,
What has happened I don’t know, Gives me the flaming wine to drink
How, into your prison, stone, And draws into the vale of blackness.
Did white nights look, my son, dear?
How do they stare at you, else, I understand that just to it
With their hot eye of a falcon, My victory has to be given,
Speak of the high cross, you hang on, Hearing the ravings of my fit,
Of the slow coming death? Now fitting to the stranger’s living.
7 And nothing of my own past
It’ll let me take with self from here
(No matter in what pleas I thrust Again a memorial hour is near,
Or how often they appear): I can now see you and feel you and hear:
Not awful eyes of my dear son – And her, who’d been led to the air in a fit,
The endless suffering and patience – And her – who no more touches earth with her feet.
Not that black day when thunder gunned,
Not that jail’s hour of visitation, And her – having tossed with her beautiful head –
She says, “I come here as to my homestead.”
Not that sweet coolness of his hands,
Not that lime’s shade in agitation, I wish all of them with their names to be called;
Not that light sound from distant lands – But how can I do that? I have not the roll.
Words of the final consolations.
The wide common cover I’ve wov’n for their lot –
10 From many a word, that from them I have caught.
CRUCIFIXION Those words I’ll remember as long as I live,
Don’t weep for me, Mother, I’d not forget them in a new awe or grief.
seeing me in a grave.
And if will be stopped my long-suffering mouth –
I Through which always shout our people’s a mass –
The angels’ choir sang fame for the great hour, Let them pray for me, like for them I had prayed,
And skies were melted in the fire’s rave. Before my remembrance day, quiet and sad.
He said to God, “Why did you left me, Father?”
And to his Mother, “Don’t weep o’er my grave…” And if once, whenever in my native land,
They’d think of the raising up my monument,
I give my permission for such good a feast,
Magdalena writhed and sobbed in torments, But with one condition – they have to place it
The best pupil turned into a stone,
But none dared – even for a moment – Not near the sea, where I once have been born –
To sight Mother, silent and alone. All my warm connections with it had been torn,
Not in the tsar’s garden near that tree-stump, blessed,
EPILOGUE Where I am looked for by the doleful shade,
I But here, where three hundred long hours I stood for
And where was not opened for me the hard door.
I’ve known how, at once, shrink back the faces,
How fear peeps up from under the eyelids, Since e’en in the blessed death, I shouldn’t forget
How suffering creates the scriptural pages The deafening roar of Black Marias’ black band,
On the pale cheeks its cruel reigning midst,
How the shining raven or fair ringlet I shouldn’t forget how flapped that hateful door,
At once is covered by the silver dust, And wailed the old woman, like beast, it before.
And a smile slackens on the lips, obedient,
And deathly fear in the dry snicker rustles. And let from the bronze and unmoving eyelids,
And not just for myself I pray to Lord, Like some melting snow flow down the tears,
But for them all, who stood in that line, hardest,
In a summer heat and in a winter cold, And let a jail dove coo in somewhat afar
Under the wall, so red and so sightless. And let the mute ships sail along the Neva.
“The Twelve” – Alexander Blok ‘We had a meeting too...' 'in this building' '... held a
Written in 1918 discussion' '...reached a decision: ten for a short one,
twenty five a night ...' '... And not to take less from
1 anyone ' ... 'Let's get to bed...’
Black evening. White snow. Wind, wind! A man cannot Late evening. The street grows empty. A lone tramp
keep his feet. Wind, wind - over all God's earth! hunches his shoulders and the wind whistles
The wind ripples the white snow. Under the snow - ice. Hey, dearie! Come close, let's have a kiss...
It's slippery, hard going. Everyone in the street slithers.
Oh, poor thing! Bread!
From building to building a rope is stretched. On the What's ahead?
rope a banner: 'All Power to the Constituent Assembly!'
The old woman is worried to death. She weeps, she just Pass on!
can't make out what it means. What is it for, a banner
like that, such a huge rag? How many footcloths for the Black, black sky.
children you could get out of it, yet they all go ragged,
barefoot... Anger, sad anger boils in the breast ... Black anger,
Like a hen, the old woman has somehow scuttled Comrade! Watch out!
fluttering over the drift. 'Oh, Holy Mother of
Intercession! Oh, these Bolsheviks will drive us all into 2
The wind is on the rampage, the snow flutters.
A cutting wind! And the frost keeps pace. And the Twelve men advance on foot.
bourgeois at the crossroads has buried his nose in his
collar. Black rifle-straps and all about them -flame, flame,
And who's that? - Long hair and muttering sotto
voce: Traitors! Russia has perished! A writer, most Between the teeth a cigarette, a crumpled cap, all
probably - the windbag. that's missing is the ace of diamonds on the back!
And look over there, in the long robe, edging past Liberty, liberty, Ekh-ekh, without the cross!
behind that drift ... why not so cheerful these days,
comrade padre? Tra-ta-ta! It's cold, comrades, it's cold!
But Van'ka and Kat'ka are in the pub...
Do you remember how you used to trundle your She's got Kerensky notes stashed in her stocking!
stomach on before you and how the stomach with the
cross beamed out on the people? Old Vanya's in the money himself these days!
Used to be one of us, Van'ka, till he went for a
And there - a lady in Persian lamb has turned to another soldier!
like her: 'We cried and cried...' Slipped and - whoops!
she's flat on her back! Hey, there, Van'ka, son of a bitch, burzhui!
Just try kissing my girl!
Dear, dear! Pull! Help her up!
The wind is merry and spiteful and glad. It whirls hems, Ekh-ekh, without the cross!
mows down passers-by, rips, crumples and carries off
the great banner: 'All Power to the Constituent 3
Assembly..." And bears words:
Kat’ka's up to something there with Van'ka?
What's she up to, what? Tra-ta-ta.
All about them - flame, flame, flame ...rifle straps Lacy underwear - that what you used to walk out in -
across their shoulders... walk out now, keep walking! It was with officers you
did your whoring - keep it up then, keep whoring.
Keep in step with the revolution! Tireless, the enemy is
on the watch! Ekh, ekh! Keep it up! The heart's skipped a beat in
Comrade, keep a hold on that rifle, don't be afraid! Let's
put a bullet into Holy Russia That officer - Kat'ya - do you remember him? He got
- into gnarled old peasant Russia with her wooden what was coming to him - the knife. Or don't you
houses and her great fat arse! remember, you dirty bitch? Or is the memory not so
Ekh-ekh, without the cross! fresh?
And so our lads went off to war Ekh, ekh, let's freshen it up! Take me to bed!
They went to serve in the Red Guard
They went to serve in the Red Guard Grey gaiters you used to wear, stuffed ‘Chocolat
To lose their stormy heads. Mignon’ and walked out with the officer-cadets - but
its other ranks you go with now, ain't it?
Ekh, life, you're bitter and sad,
Life, you 're sweet! Ekh, ekh! Sin - now!
Tattered trench coat It'll ease the soul!
To the woe of all the bourgeois
We'll set the world aflame and blow it high Again the sleigh-driver’s flying straight for them at
We'll set the world aflame in blood - the gallop, yelling and shouting...
So help us God!
Halt, halt! Andryukha, help! Petrukha, run round the
4 back there! ...
The snow whirls up, the sleigh-driver yells, Van'ka and Trakh-tararakh-takh-takh-takh-takh! The snow dust
Kat’ka are flying by, electric lights on the shafts . . . whirls up towards the sky! ...
Hey . . . make way!
The driver's heading off - and Van'ka too ... Once
With his soldier's trench coat and his fool's physog he's more! Cock the gun!
twiddling and twiddling that black moustache, twirling
away at it, cracking jokes... Trakh-tararakh! You’ll soon find out...
what you get for playing around with another man's
That's the way Van'ka is - broad in the shoulder! That's lass!
the way Van'ka is - never at a loss for words! Cuddling
that fool Kat’ka, chatting her up . . . He's away, the bastard! Wait then, it won't be long,
I'll deal with you tomorrow.
And she's holding up her face, little teeth gloaming like
pearls ... Ah Kat'ya, my Kat'ya, with your sweet fat But where's Kat’ka? Dead, dead! Shot through the
5 So - Kat’ka happy now? - Not a squeak out of her ...
then lie there, carrion, in the snow.
On your neck, Kat'ya, that knife scar hasn't healed.
Under your breast, Kat’ya, that scratch is still fresh! Keep in step with the Revolution! Tireless, the
enemy is on the watch.
Ekh, ekh, give us a dance! Those legs are a bit of ail
7 How I'll slash with that knife of mine, slash and
And once more the twelve are on their way, guns slung
over their shoulders. Only the face of the poor murderer Fly off, burzhui, like a sparrow! I will drink blood to
is not to be seen... my love, my black-browed love...
Quicker and quicker he speeds up his pace. He's Give rest, oh Lord, to the soul of Thine handmaiden...
muffled his neck with his scarf, round and around - just
can't get over it... Misery!
Not feeling so good, comrade? Knocked you sideways, 9
has it, lad? Come now, Pet'ya, why let it get you down?
... or are you feeling sorry for Kat’ka all of a sudden? The murmur of the town cannot be heard,
Over the Nevsky tower silence reigns,
Ah, comrades, brothers, I loved that girl ... The black And there's not a single policeman left -
nights, the drunken nights I’ve spent with that girl . . . Celebrate then, lads, without the wine!
All for the crazy daring in her hot eyes, all for the The Bourgeois stands at the- crossroads and has
crimson birthmark on her right shoulder ... I killed her, hidden his nose in his collar. And alongside a mangy
fool that I am, I killed her in the heat of the moment ... dog is rubbing its rough coat up against him, its tail
Ah! between its legs.
Listen to that, the beggar turned on the barrel The Bourgeois stands as hungry as the dog, stands as
organ! What’s wrong with you, Pet’ka, you're not a silent as a question mark. And the old world, kinless
woman, are you? Going to lay bare your soul, are you? as the dog, stands behind him, its tail between its
We're listening! Keep your chin up! Keep yourself legs.
This is no time to be molly-coddling you! Things are
going to get a lot worse before we're through, dear The snowstorm seems to have started up again; Oy,
comrade' the storm, oy, the storm' There's no seeing one
another at four paces!
And Pet’ka slows down his hurried steps...
He throws back his head, he’s cheered up again... The snow has gone whirling up in a funnel, the snow
has risen into a great pillar.
Ekh, ekh! It's no sin to have a bit of fun!
Lock up on all floors, there'll be robberies today! Ah, what a blizzard, Saviour! - Pet'ka! Don't let
your tongue run away with you man! What has the
Open up the cellars. Today the have-nots are on the golden icon-screen ever saved you from? Mindless,
rampage ' you are, just think, use your common sense - or don't
you have blood on your hands for love of Kat'ka?
Keep in step with the revolution! The tireless enemy
Ekh, life - you’re bitter and sad! Dull misery, dull as is near!
Forward, forward, forward,
How I'll spend the time though, how I'll spend it . . . The working people!
How I'll scratch my scalp though, how I'll scratch it . . . 11
How I’ll chew and spit out those seeds though, chew And they march on without one holy name, all twelve
'em and spit 'em out... - into the distance. Ready for anything. Regretting
nothing . . .
invisible beyond the snowstorm and invulnerable to
Their steel rifles trained on an enemy they cannot see, any bullet, with tender step above the storm, in a
down desolate side streets where only the blizzard pearly scattering of snow, in a white crown of roses -
blows like sand ... and into downy drifts - there's no ahead is Jesus Christ.
freeing your boot...
In their eyes flutters the red flag. Poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky
Their measured step rings out. “Call to Account” (1917)
Soon, soon the fierce enemy will awake... The drum of war thunders and thunders.
It calls: thrust iron into the living.
And the snowstorm blows like sand in their eyes, day From every country
after day, night after night, all day, slave after slave
all night . . . are thrown onto bayonet steel.
For the sake of what?
Forward, forward, The earth shivers
The working people! hungry
12 Mankind is vapourised in a blood bath
Into the distance they march with sovereign tread ... - someone
Who else is there? Come out! That is the wind, playing somewhere
wildly with the red flag out there ahead . . . can get hold of Albania.
Human gangs bound in malice,
Ahead - a cold snowdrift. - Whoever's there in that drift blow after blow strikes the world
- Come out! ... Only the stray, starving dog hobbles only for
along behind... someone’s vessels
to pass without charge
- Get lost, you scabby brute, I'll tickle you with my through the Bosporus.
bayonet! Old world, mangy as the dog, scat - or I'll run Soon
you through! the world
won’t have a rib intact.
... It bares its teeth - a hungry wolf with tail between its And its soul will be pulled out.
legs, keeping pace behind. Cold dog - kinless dog ... And trampled down
Hey there, answer, who goes there? only for someone,
Who's waving that red flag out there? Did you ever see their hands on
it so dark? Who is it moving like a fugitive out there, Mesopotamia.
taking cover behind every house? Why does
I'll get you anyway, better give yourself up alive! Hey, crush the Earth — fissured and rough?
comrade, it'll be the worse for you! Come out, we're What is above the battles’ sky -
going to shoot! Freedom?
Trakh-takh-takh! Only the echo resounds among the Money!
houses ... Only the storm laughs long amid the snows . . When will you stand to your full height,
giving them your life?
Trakh-takh-takh! Trakh-takh-takh! When will you hurl a question to their faces:
Why are we fighting?
... So they march on with sovereign tread. Behind is the
hungry dog. Ahead - with the bloodstained flag and
Mayakovsky (con’t) because
“Back Home” (1925) I feel no love.
Thoughts, go your way home. I’m self-exiled
Embrace, or sent to mamma -
depths of the soul and the sea. the steel of words corrodes,
In my view, the brass of the brass
it is tarnishes.
to be beneath foreign rains,
always serene. must I soak,
My cabin is the worst rot,
of all cabins - and rust?
All night above me Here I recline,
Thuds a smithy of feet. having gone oversea,
All night, in my idleness
stirring the ceiling’s calm, barely moving
dancers stampede my machine parts.
to a moaning motif: I myself
“Marquita, feel like a Soviet
Marquita my darling, manufacturing happiness.
why won’t you, I object
Marquita, to being torn up,
why won’t you love me …” like a flower of the fields,
But why after a long day’s work.
Should marquita love me?! I want
I have the Gosplan to sweat
no francs to spare. in debate,
And Marquita assignning me
(at the slightest wink!) goals a year ahead.
for a hundred francs I want
she’d be brought to your room. a commissar
The sum’s not large - with a decree
just live for show - to lean over the thought of the age.
No, I want
you highbrow, the heart to earn
ruffling your matted hair, its love wage
you would thrust upon her at a specialist’s rate.
a sewing machine, I want
in stitches the factory committee
scribbling to lock
the silk of verse. My lips
Proletarians when the work is done.
arrive at communism I want
from below - the pen to be on a par
by the low way of mines, with the bayonet;
sickles, and Stalin
and pitchforks - to deliver his Politbureau
But I, reports
from poetry’s skies, about verse in the making
plunge into communism, as he would about pig iron
and the smelting of steel. Cherish your life,
“That’s how it is, Only poets in bone
the way it goes … Are as in a lie.
We’ve attained No, my eloquent brothers,
the topmost level, We'll not have much fun,
climbing from the workers’ bunks: In the body as with Father's
in the Union Dressing-gown on.
of Republics We deserve something better.
the understanding of verse We wilt in the warm.
now tops In the body as in a byre.
the prewar norm …” In the self as in a cauldron.
Marvels that perish
We don't collect.
“Past One O’clock” (1930)
In the body as in a marsh,
In the body as in a crypt.
This poem was found among Mayakovsky’s papers
In the body as in furthest
after his suicide on April 14, 1930. He had used the
Exile. It blights.
middle section, with slight changes, as an epilogue to
In the body as in a secret,
his suicide note.
In the body as in the vice
Of an iron mask.
Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night. “In Praise of the Rich” (1922)
I’m in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
I have no cause to wake or trouble you. Herewith, having warned you beforehand
And, as they say, the incident is closed. That between us is many miles' space,
Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind. That I am one of the riff-raff,
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then And in life have an honest place:
To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts.
Behold what quiet settles on the world. Under the wheels of all excesses,
Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars. Host to hunchback and cripple, queer fish...
In hours like these, one rises to address Herewith I shout from the rooftops,
The ages, history, and all creation. Declare it--I love the rich.
For their root that is rotten, decrepit,
From the cradle growing its wound,
Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva Their hands moving in unconcious habit
From their pockets, and to them returned.
“The Demon in Me” (1925) For the softest requests that their mouths make,
Each obeyed like an ordering cry,
The demon in me's not dead, And because they won't get into heaven,
He's living, and well. And won't look you straight in the eye.
In the body as in a hold,
In the self as in a cell. For their secrets--by special delivery,
The world is but walls. Their passions--by courier post,
The exit's the axe. For their nights, which are foisted upon them,
("All the world's a stage," (Even kissing and drinking are forced!)
The actor prates.)
And that hobbling buffoon And because in their cotton-wool yawning,
Is no joker; Their gilding, their counting itch
In the body as in glory, They can't buy me, impudent upstart,
In the body as in a toga. I affirm that I love the rich.
May you live forever!
Never mind that shine, of the shaven, O, laugh out laugheringly
That wined, dined look (I wink and it's mine), O, belaughable laughterhood - the laughter of
It's that sudden look of the craven, laughering laughers!
Those eyes with their doggy shine, O, unlaugh it outlaughingly, belaughering laughists!
Doubting... Uplaugh, enlaugh, laughlings, laughlings
are the scales set at zero? Laughlets, laughlets.
Are the weights not perhaps loaded short? O, laugh, laughers!
Because of all the world's outcasts O, laugh out, laughers!
These are the sorriest sort.
“Bo-beh-o-bi Sang The Lips”
An unpleasant fable informs us
How some camels pass through needle eyes. Bo-beh-o-bi, sang the lips,
...For their look of 'To death I'm astonished,' Veh-eh-o-mi, sang the glances,
As they plead their infirmities Pi-eh-eh-o, sang the brows,
Li-eh-eh-ey, sang the visage,
Like bankruptcy. 'I'd have lent...Been glad to' Gzi-gzi-gzeh-o, sang the chain.
...For their quiet words, mouthed with a twitch: Thus on a canvas of some correspondences
'I counted in carats, was a brother...' Beyond dimension lived the face.
I swear it: I love the rich.
“Grey Hairs” (1922)
Midnight estate, Genghis Khanerate!
These are ashes of treasures: Rustle, blue birches.
Of hurt and loss. Bright sunset, Zarathustrate!
These are ashes in face of which And you, blue sky, Mozartate!
Granite is dross. You twilight-cloud, be Goya!
Dove, naked and brilliant, And you at night, cloud, rainate!
It has no mate. A whirlwind of smiles just flew by,
Solomon's ashes Laughing with claws of shrieking,
Over vanity that's great. Then I saw the hangman
Time's menacing chalkmark, And surveyed boldly the midnight hush.
Not to be overthrown. And I called you, bold-featured,
Means God knocks at the door And he brought the drowned back from the river.
-- Once the house has burned down! "Their forget-me-not is louder than a scream," -
Not choked yet by refuse, I told the sail of night.
Days' and dreams' conqueror. The earth's axis splashed out another day,
Like a thunderbolt -- Spirit Night's bulk is closing in.
Of early grey hair. I dreamed I saw a salmon-girl
It's not you who've betrayed me In the waves of a midnight waterfall.
On the home front, years. The pines are Tatared by the tempest
This grey is the triumph And the Mongol rainclouds move,
Of immortal powers. Yet words close in, Cains of silence, -
And these saints are fallen.
Poems by Velimir Khlebnikov And with his guard blue Hasdrubal
Walked heavily to the stone ball.
“Invocation of Laughter”
O, laugh, laughers!
O, laugh out, laughers!
You who laugh with laughs, you who laugh it up
Poems by Yevgeny Yevtushenko But he feared us.
Believing in the great goal,
“The Heirs of Stalin” all means justified
to that great end.
Mute was the marble. He was far-sighted.
Mutely glimmered the glass. Adept in the art of political warfare,
Mute stood the sentries, he left many heirs
bronzed by the breeze. behind on this globe.
Thin wisps of smoke curled over the coffin. I fancy
And breath seeped through the chinks there’s a telephone in that coffin:
as they bore him out the mausoleum doors. Stalin instructs
Slowly the coffin floated, Enver Hoxha.
grazing the fized bayonets. From that coffin where else does the cable go!
He also was mute-- No, Stalin has not given up.
he also!-- He thinks he can
mute and dread. cheat death.
Grimly clenching We carried
his embalmed fists, him
just pretending to be dead, from the mausoleum.
he watched from inside. But how remove Stalin’s heirs
He wished to fix each pallbearer from Stalin!
in his memory: Some of his heirs tend roses in retirement,
young recruits thinking in secret
from Ryazan and Kursk, their enforced leisure will not last.
so that later he might Others,
collect enough strength for a sortie, from platforms, even heap abuse on Stalin
rise from the grave, but,
and reach these unreflecting youths. at night,
He was scheming. yearn for the good old days.
Had merely dozed off. No wonder Stalin’s heirs seem to suffer
And I, appealing to our government, these days from heart trouble.
petition them They, the former henchmen,
to double, hate this era
and treble, of emptied prison camps
the sentries guarding this slab, and auditoriums full of people listening
and stop Stalin from ever rising again to poets.
and, with Stalin, The Party
the past. discourages me
I refer not to the past, from being smug.
so holy and glorious, "Why care?"
of Turksib, some say, but I can’t remain
and Magnitka, inactive.
and the flag raised over Berlin. While Stalin’s heirs walk this earth,
By the past, in this case, Stalin,
I mean the neglect I fancy, still lurks in the mausoleum.
of the people’s good,
false charges, ”Ballad about Drinking” (1964)
the jailing of innocent men.
We sowed our crops honestly. We had slaughtered a hundred white whales,
Honestly we smelted metal, civilization was quite forgotten,
and honestly we marched, our lungs were burned out from smoking shag,
joining the ranks.
but on sighting port we blew out our chests like barrels is the best thing to keep the wrinkles away.
and began to speak to one another politely, Let them judge us!--We don't give a damn!
and with the noble goal of drinking We used to drink all sorts of wine!
we went ashore from the schooner at Amderma. When we were in Germany
we filled the radiators of our tanks
In Amderma we walked like gods, with wine from the Mosel.
swaggering along with our hands on our hips,
and through the port our beards and sidewhiskers We don't need consumer goods!
kept their bearings on the pub, We need the wind, the sky!
and passing girls and shellbacks Old mates, listen to this
as well as all the local dogs in our souls, as though in the safe deposit:
went along with us as escort. We have the sea, our mothers and young brothers--
All the rest...is rubbish!"
But, clouding the whole planet,
a notice hung in the shop: "No Spirits!" Bestriding the earth like a giant,
We looked at some sparkling wine from the Don Markovsky stood with a glass in his hand
as if it were feeble fruit juice, that held the foaming seas.
and through our agonized yearning The skipper observed: "Everything is shipshape!"
we realized--it wouldn't work. and only the boatswain sobbed like a child:
"But my mother is dead..."
Now who could have drunk our spirits, our vodka?
It's dreadful the way people drink--simply ruinous. And we all began to burst into tears,
But skinny as a skeleton, Petka Markovsky from quite easily, quite shamelessly,
Odessa, as if in the midst of our own families,
as it always happens with him, mourning with bitter tears
suddenly disappeared somewhere at first for the boatswain's mother,
giving a secretive "Sh-sshh!" and afterward simply for ourselves.
And shortly afterward, with much clinking, Already a rueful notice hung in the chemist's shop--
he turned up with a huge cardboard box, "No Triple Eau de Cologne"--
already slightly merry, but eight of us sea wolves
and it was a sweet clinking the box made sobbed over almost all of Russia!
as we woke up to the fact: "There she is! She's apples!" And in our sobs we reeked
and Markovsky gave us the wink: "She's right!" like eight barbershops.
We made a splash, waving to everyone-- Tears, like squalls,
Chartered a deluxe room in the hotel swept away heaps of false values,
and sat down as we were on the bed. of puffed-up names,
Cords flew off the box and quietly remaining inside us
and there, in the glittering columns of the bottles, was only the sea, our mothers and young brothers--
bulging, stern, cosy, even the mother who was dead...
triple-distilled eau de cologne stood before us! I wept as though I was being set free,
I wept as if I was being born anew,
And Markovsky rose, lifting his glass, a different person from what I'd been,
pulled down his seaman's jacket, and before God and before myself,
and began: "I'd like to say something..." like the tears of those drunken whalemen,
"Then say it!" everyone began to shout. my soul was pure.
But before anything else
they wanted to wet their whistles.
Markovsky said: "Come on--let's have a swig!
The doctor told me eau de cologne