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GAMZATOV, Rasul



The Cranes


It seems to me sometimes that soldiers fallen,

Whom bloody battlefields have rendered dead,

Were buried not in soil to be forgotten,

But turned into white cranes in flight instead.


From that time, since their fate became a coffin,

They’ve soared and issued us a strident cry.

Is that not why we sadly, and so often,

Lift up our silent gaze when cranes go by?


Today, as evening yields to nighttime’s border,

I see the cranes in flight, their wings unfurled.

They fly over the fields in perfect order

Just as they marched when people in the world.


They fly--their line extending to forever,

And call out names of someone to the cold.

Is that not why the song of cranes has never

Been far from Avar speech since times of old?


The weary wedge of birds on expedition -

It flies and flies through fog, towards the dawn,

And in the ranks I notice a position -

An empty space for me, for when I’m gone!


Some day in that formation I'll be flying;

I'll sail into the skies on my rebirth,

And from the heav'ns with crane trump I’ll be crying

To those of you I left upon the earth.


translation: David Mark BENNETT