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I"m tired of living in my land

I"m tired of living in my land

With boring fields and buckwheat fragrant,

I"ll leave my home for ever, and

Begin the life of thief and vagrant.

I’ll walk through silver curls of life

In search of miserable dwelling.

My dearest friend will whet his knife

On me. The reason? There’s no telling.

The winding yellow road will go

Across the sunlit field of flowers,

The girl whose name I cherish so

Will turn me out of her house.

I will return back home to live

and see the others feeling happy,

I’ll hang myself upon my sleeve,

On a green evening it will happen.

The silky willows by the fence

Will bend their tops low down, gently,

To dogs barking, by my friends,

Unwashed, I will be buried plainly.

The moon will float up in the sky

Dropping the oars into the water...

As ever, Russia will get by

And dance and weep in every quarter.

Now all is set, and I forsake

Now all is set, and I forsake

My homeland’s woods and sunlit glare.

No longer will the poplars cleave

Their winged foliage in my hair.

The low house stoops without my height,

My faithful dog has long licked sod.

On crooked Moscow streets at night

I am to die, so promised God.

This town of elms, I love it well,

Decrepit, flabby – be it so.

And drowsy golden Asia’s swell

Has died upon the rounded domes.

And when the moonlight gilds the sky

Who knows just how it got that far!

My head hung down, I then espy

Across the street a well-known bar.

In foulest lair of noise and grime,

Through all the night until day’s brink,

To hookers I will read sweet rhyme,

And heat my bones with thugs and drink.

My heart will rise as throbbing sun,

Then I will say, in whispered shout:

“I’m just like you, O fallen one

I also have now no way out.”

On crooked streets in Moscow bright,

My loving dog has fled the rod;

My measly house has stooped in fright:

I am to die, thus deemed my God

Translated by Alec Vagapov


Pearly droplets, beautiful droplets,

How lovely you are in the golden rays,

And how sad you are, inclement droplets,

On wet windows in a black autumn.

People, living in merry oblivion,

How grand you appear in others’ eyes

And how pitiful you are in the dark of decline.

No consolation for you in the world of the living.

Autumn droplets, how much sadness

You inspire in the heavy soul.

Quietly you slide across glass, meandering,

As though looking for something merry.

Wretched people, undone by life,

In pain you live out your days,

Calling back again and again the lovely

Bygone time you will never forget.

Farewell poem.

Goodbye, my friend, goodbye.

My dear, you are in my heart.

Predestined separation

Promises a future meeting.

Goodbye, my friend, without handshake and words,

Do not grieve and sadden your brow,-

In this life there’s nothing new in dying,

But nor, of course, is living any newer.

The grove of golden trees has fallen silent,

The grove of golden trees has fallen silent,

Shorn of its gay leaves, in mute silhouette,

And so the cranes in sad file past it flying

Have no cause any more to feel regret.

For whom, for what? We are all rovers, starting

Out, coming home awhile, then traveling on.

The hemp field’s dreaming of all who departed

And there’s a full moon gazing at the pond.

I stand alone, the bare expanses viewing,

While on the wind the cranes are borne away.

Remembrance of my merry youth pursuing,

I find nothing I would relive today.

I don’t regret the years that I have wasted,

I don’t regret the lilac time of life.

A rowan fire is in the orchard blazing

But none shall from its brightness warmth derive.

Red rowan-berry clusters cannot scorch you,

The grasses will no yellow and decline.

As leaves fall softly from a tree in autumn

So I let fall these mournful words of mine.

And if time with its breezy broom should pile them

Into a heap to burn without regret…

Just say this … that the golden grove fell silent,

Shorn of its leaves, in pensive silhouette.

Even now, little by little, we are departing..."

Even now, little by little, we are departing

For that land of silence and grace.

Pretty soon I too may have to pack

My measly belongings.

My dear birch thickets!

Earth! And you, sands of plains!

Faced with the throng of departing

I cannot hide my anguish.

I care too much for everything

That clothes the soul in flesh.

Peace be with aspens that have forgotten themselves

Staring into pink waters with open branches.

I’ve thought many thoughts in silence;

I’ve composed many songs of myself;

And on this grim earth

I’m happy to have breathed and lived.

I’m happy to have kissed women,

Crushed flowers, rolled in the grass,

And never hit beasts on the head,

Since they’re our lesser brothers.

I know woods don’t bloom over there,

Swans’ necks don’t ring out in the wheat.

That’s why I always tremble

When I face the hordes of the departing.

I know that other land won’t have

These cornfields, gold in the dark.

That’s why I love the people

Who live on this earth with me.