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Vladimir Vysotsky's Translations By Andrey Kneller

© Copyright Vladimir Vysotsky © Copyright english translation by Andrey Kneller Email: m.kneller@worldnet.att.net

The nature reserve

Animal herds are swarming through copses Not looking for water nor for a snack They are fiercely pursuing hunters and horses In their happy and cheerful flock Beasts have forgotten the elderly curse And decided to face whatever still haunts them Like uncomfortable shirts, they rip open their furs They fall to the ground -- but nobody wants them There are many in thickets, lurking and crawling Annoying like crickets, weeping and bawling Yowling and raving, hissing and flirting Attention craving and self-supporting The fish is swimming against powerful waves You can virtually walk on it towards the ford Wanting for once to be caught, each fish raves To fall on the plate... and down the throat The fish is cold-blooded, unlike the meat It longs to get trapped in the fishermen's net It dreams of a spot on the stove, near the heat With the broth by its gills, there's nothing to dread There are many swamps, slavishly swimming Covered with lumps, beamingly gleaming Sluggishly sleeping and hibernating Dinner retrieving and dinner awaiting Even the birds crave for shrapnel in flight Slowly becoming more agile and neat Just so the apples could fit loosely inside-- The thoughtful geese had nothing to eat Courageous bird shows its power in hunting It screams to the weak, "Allow me to pass!" Then takes its own life with a wailing grunting, Without shots being fired, it aims for the grass There are many on branches, quietly squealing Sitting in bunches, strange and appealing Bawling and raving, signing and flirting Attention craving and self-supporting Fur-bearing beasts are tired of sweating They desperately try to get shot and get caught Not sharing their warmth is really degrading And they often dream of shedding their coat Just think for a minute, it's kind of funny-- Walking into our banks by themselves Thousands of dollars in effortless money As fabulous fur stocks itself on the shelves There are many in thickets, many in bushes Annoying like crickets, voluptuously luscious Engagingly raving, ferociously flirting Attention craving and self-supporting Cold-blooded, caring or simply barbarian Pasture expending and vegetarian Slowly decaying and microbe consuming And self-displaying, glowing and blooming Gloomily gleaming, harking and talking Stirringly swimming, running and walking Small and gigantic, strange and appealing Raging and frantic, extensively squealing Corrupted and evil and wickedly wild Seemingly civil, harmless and mild Beautiful, ravishing, radiance casting Gradually vanishing, and century lasting Sluggishly sleeping and hibernating Dinner retrieving and dinner awaiting Fur is undamaged, fish -- fresher than ever Meat with no bullets -- easy chewable food Beautifully done, outstandingly clever Peacefully, quietly - and no need to shoot! Wearing white aprons, commanded to serve, With posters "Don't harm!" and lit up with zeal The huntsmen protected the nature reserve With one commandment "Thou shall not kill!" There are many in thickets, frantic and hectic Annoying like crickets, guarding, protecting With passion ignited, intensively burning Thrilled and excited, adventure yearning Crawling and lurking, and face concealing Cheerless and murky, and space depleting Loudly grunting, running and standing With pleasure hunting, with nature blending Roaring and yelling and peace disturbing Harshly compelling, clustering, swarming In bushes hiding and heavily breathing Mosquito fighting, jumping and heaving Awaking the sleeping, marching, parading Dinner retrieving and dinner awaiting

He who's been with her before

That night, I didn't drink, I didn't sing-- I stared at her and didn't blink, As though a child, as though a child But he, who's been with her before He told me, I should simply go, He told me, I should simply go, I'd face denial! And he, who's been with her before He talked so coarsely and he swore But I remembered--I wasn't drunk then And as I tried to walk away She told me, "What's the hurry, stay!" She told me, "What's the hurry, stay, It isn't late yet!" But he, who's been with her before Remembered and did not let go And once in fall, and once in fall I'm with my friend, they blocked our lane They stood together in a chain, They stood together in a chain-- Eight men in all With me--my knife and I decide I won't go down without a fight Watch out you fools! Watch out you fools! Why should I wait to be submersed? And so, I chose to strike them first And so, I chose to strike them first Those were the rules But he, who's been with her before He planned and plotted a fierce row, Severe and grave, severe and grave Right from behind, someone attacked And Johnny warned me, "Watch your back!" And Johnny warned me, "Watch your back!" It was too late For all eight sins--one resolution A prison clinic--my conclusion I lied there flat, I lied there flat The surgeon cut across and down He told me, "Man, just hang around!" He told me, "Man, just hang around!" I did just that! The time flew by during my term She did not wait for my return But I've forgiven, her--I've forgiven Yes her, I surely do condone But him, who's been with her before But him, who's been with her before I won't be leaving With him, who's been with her before With him, who's been with her before I will get even

Someone spotted a fruit...

:: Translation by Eugenia Weinstein with modifications of A.Kneller :: Original variant of translation Someone spotted a fruit, still unripe Shook the branch and it fell, lacking poise There's one who did not sing a line And was left unaware of his voice Perhaps, he had conflicts with fate And by chance, his plans went amiss But the guitar string had already been laid And its flaw was unknowingly missed He started humbly with a "do..." But never finished that one note His first accord fell much too flat He made an unexciting vice A dog was barking, and a cat Was chasing mice... It's funny, don't you think it's wry? He left his joke halfway complete He did not fully taste his wine He didn't even take a sip He was only plotting his fret He was timid and slow to begin And his soul, in large droplets of sweat, Still perspired from under his skin He was starting a duel, so inane He walked slowly onto the floor Only grasping the rules of the game While the ref hadn't opened the score He yearned to know so much at once And yet, he never quite advanced And no conclusion could be drawn He never traveled deep enough And her, the one who's still alone, He lacked a chance to fully love It's funny; don't you think it's droll? He hurried, ran, but all in vain And riddles that he hadn't solved Unsolved remained... What I'm telling you now aren't lies He was pure to the style he held On the snow, he was writing her rhymes And it's sad that the snow had to melt But it was snowing that day, and at least He was free to write on the snow On the run, he would catch with his lips Crystal flakes in their brilliant glow But to her, in a silver-gilt surrey He never made it all the way He had no time to sprint nor fly He never ran, the runaway His star-sign--Taurus-- from up high Just lapped the ice-cold Milky Way It's kind of funny, don't you think? Not having seconds, time was tight, And from a single missing link -- Unfinished flight, unfinished flight... Seemed funny, didn't it? Of course To you and me, it surely did A flying bird, a racing horse... Whose fault is it?

A meeting with the Muse

I'm gonna blow as if three hundred tons of TNT-- I'm charged with dullness of all evil-hearted But just today, the Muse came forth to me Stayed for a while, then departed... I know, she had good motives; I understand-- I have no right to moan here in dismay, Just think, a Muse... at night... and with a man! God only known, what some might say! And yet, I feel rejected and aroused Because this Muse--and many will agree!-- Had daily hung out at Block's house, And stayed with Pushkin and never tried to flee I rushed towards the desk, still so impatient I beg You, God, please keep me in your sight! She left, and thus I lacked my inspiration And--money that she needed for the ride In rage, I rush around the house in a pother But I forgive her, even though it's tough She left me here alone, but for another I guess, I didn't treat her well enough Gigantic cake with candles was prepared Now it dries up from woe; I, too, feel used And with my neighbor--lowlifes, I have shared The cognac that was meant just for the Muse Like people, years have slowly passed on by All's in the past, I yawning from ennui She left without a word, without a reason why, Two lines are left from her, yes only two Here are the lines--without a doubt, I'm a poet; I hear applause and I am full of pride; "I still remember that amazing moment, When you appeared before my sight!"

Morning workout

Inhale deeply, arms--out more, Do not hurry--three and four! Grace and pliability are emphasized! All around conditioning, And hangover quickening, If you're still alive and fidgeting- Exercise! If you're working out at home, Do lie down!--three and four! Correctly go through every single motion! Lose the tension that you feel, Get accustomed to the drill! Inhale deeply right until... Exhaustion! Quickly growing 'round the world-- Flu and illness--three and four! The disease is gradually flourishing! If you're weak--straight to the grave! If you want your wellness saved, With a towel rub yourself, It's nourishing! If already you feel spent, Sit and stand, sit and stand-- Do not fear the Arctic and Antarctic! Our main scholar Dr. Joffe Proved to us that booze and coffee Will be replaced by athletic prophy-- --lactic All the talking should be stopped Keep on squatting 'till you drop Do not be such gloomy creatures! If you cannot hold your ardor Rub yourself with something harder In the water, you can start the Drilled procedures We're not scared of doltish talk-- In response we run and walk,-- Amateurs--triumphant from the start! Beautiful!--right from beginning No one's losing, no one's winning Stationary running is bringing Peace to hearts!

A song about a friend

If your friend just became a man, Not a friend, not a foe,-- just so, If you really can't tell from the start, If he's strong in his heart, -- To the peaks take this man -- don't fret! Do not leave him alone, on his own, Let him share the same view with you-- Then you'll know if he's true. If the guy on the peak got weak, If he lost all his care -- got scared, Took a step on the frost -- got lost, Tripped and screamed in exhaust, -- Then the one you held close is false, Do not bother to yell-- expel, -- We can't take such aboard, and in short We don't sing of his sort. If the guy didn't whine nor pine, He was dull and upset, but went, When you slipped from the cliff, He heaved, holding you in his grip; If he walked right along, seemed strong, On the top stood like he belonged, -- Then, whenever the chances are slim You can count on him!

Leaving the mountains

To the scramble of cities and the crowded streets We return, for these places have bound us. We descend from the conquered mountain peaks, Leaving our hearts in the mountains. So, I beg you, just stop all the meaningless fights! Many times I have proven this speech, And to me, the one thing that is better than heights, Is the height that I haven't yet reached! Who would want to be left by all alone in a mix? To descend when the heart starts to revel?-- Yet, we left from the conquered mountain peaks-- Gods, themselves, desended from heaven. So, I beg you, just stop all the meaningless fights! Many times I have proven this speech, And to me, the one thing that is better than heights, Is the height that I haven't yet reached! Beautiful verses in their honor were penned And the mountains call us to stay. For a year or forever-- but we have to descend, We must always return, either way. So, I beg you, just stop all the meaningless fights! Many times I have proven this speech, And to me, the one thing that is better than heights, Is the height that nobody has reached!

My Hamlet

Just briefly, I'll explain myself in verse, To tell you everything-- I do not have the might. I was conceived, the proper way, in curse, -- In sweat and tenseness of the wedding night. I knew, when separating from the earth -- The higher, the more harsh we got. I walked towards the throne that I deserved And acted like an heir in line of blood. I knew that everything would be just as I ruled. And I was never at a loss and never down. My mates of sword and those I knew from school Were loyal, like their fathers to the crown. I never gave my speech a bit of thought. Into the wind, I threw my words with pleasance-- Like to a leader, trust to me was brought By noble and high-ranking adolescents. We made the guards feel restless in the night, From us, like from a pox, the time grew worse. I slept on leather; ate right off the knife-- With stirrups disciplined my wicked horse. "Long live the King!" - I had foreseen this cry, The destiny has branded me at birth. Around chased harnesses, I would get high, I'd disregard abuse of books and words. I'd smile with my lips while being pestered. My mystic stare, which used to burn in fury, I've learned to hide, raised by a happy jester. And now the jester's dead: "Amen!" Poor Yurik. And yet I disapproved of any sharing-- Of gains, rewards and privileges one has. Then, suddenly for life I've started caring And rode around the newly sprouted grass, I lost the thrill for hunting -- lost its aim, I started to despise greyhounds and beagles. I sped my horse away from wounded game, And whipped the huntsmen and the beaters I watched our games with every single night Turn more and more into disgrace of time. And by the flowing rivers, I would hide And wash myself from staining filth and slime. I started to perceive, while growing duller, I even missed my household's affair. Towards the people of this era I grew colder, I hid myself in books and lost all care. My brain, for wisdom greedy like a spider, Grasped everything: the immobility and motion. But what is wit when one cannot apply it? When all around there's an opposing notion? With friends I tore the tread and I was free-- The thread of Ariadne was but a scheme. I pondered on the words "to be or not to be," A problem with no answer as it seemed. The sea of grief was splashing in diffusion. We stood against it; we were sieving grain, And filtering the blurry resolution To a dilemma, which appeared inane. I heard my father's call when clamor stopped, Walked forth, -- while lurking doubts loomed. The weight of heavy thoughts would pull me up And wings of flesh would drag me to my tomb. Into a weak alloy, I've melted with each day, And barely cool, it started to diffuse. Like others, I've spilled blood and just like they I was incapable my vengeance to refuse. The rising before death -- was my collapse! Ophilia! My dear, I won't decay... With killing, I have made myself, perhaps, An equal to the one with whom I lay. I'm Hamlet, I despised injustice and abuse! I did not give a damn about the crown! But in their eyes, I hungered fame and I'm accused Of sending rivals to the throne into the ground. The striking splash appears as an illusion And death through birth emerges from a side. And we're still asking the deceitful solution Not finding the question to abide.

The honor of the chess crown. Part I: Training

I was yelling: "You're insane! What happened? You have lost our prominence for chess!" They responded from the sports department: "You can help to lead us from this mess! But remember, your opponent's clever-- Sleeps next to the board and has the might, He plays neatly, never makes an error..." That's all right! I surely won't surrender, -- In reserve, I have a sturdy knight! Oh, my muscles, strong and grand, Rapid fingers, brutal looks! -- Carved and painted by hand Wooden castles, wooden rooks! My friend, the soccer player, told me: "He's not used to playing such opponents. For the rear and center do not worry, But, attack him straight along the corners!" Started running, confidence obtaining Lost some weight and never slept this fine! Hockey practices became sustaining... I must say that after all this training - I should crush my rival in no time! Oh, my palms -- so full of might, Lower back so tough and brawny! Oh, my strong and forceful knights, Oh, my bishops bring me glory! "Stand up straight and don't be nervous, -- My friend, the boxer told me that, -- And don't close in, go for the corpus Your advantage is the jab." Any doubt of losing now is gone! -- The defeat is hanging on his tail. I played Al ten times, for fun, In dominoes, in pool and twenty one, -- Al exclaimed, "He'll never fail!" Oh, my muscles shaped so fine! Strong and build on all the sides! I'll crush those figures in no time - Lightweight bishops, feeble knights! In the bar, closed for the night, The chef convinced me: "I just know it, With that awesome appetite You'll eat his pieces in one moment! Rest is most important-- that is true! Stuff your bag with food or else you'll lose! Make sure that you bring some pie... for two, Your opponent is as talented as you, But when it comes to food, he won't refuse!" Oh, we're strong and won't go down And the crown we will win! Like a pawn, I lay me down-- Wake up feeling like a queen!

The honor of the chess crown. Part II: The Game

As we landed on the ground -- we sat down. All the pieces were already in their spots. The photographers were swarming all around -- Flashing me, and trying to drive me nuts. But, even in my home, -- who can abate me? I won't be beaten by reporters' rude abuse! My unskillfulness will only aid me My opponent won't be capable to rate me-- He won't be able to foresee my moves. Lucky bastard, he'll be first to go, People say that he is keen with white! -- From E-Two he moves up to E-Four, Seems familiar... that's right--that's right! It's my turn, -- what can you do now, Steph?!-- Guessing, like through Tundra in the night... Queen is greater than the rest -- I recollect-- Moving back and forth, and right to left, While the pattern "L" is for the knights! Now I thank my fellow friend mechanic, Who has taught me every piece's route. Later I have learned-- that from the panic-- I have played a classical debut! I observed that not a blunder passed. And I thought about my chef - in woe, distress-- Oh, swap each figure for a liquor glass! -- And the board will prove who is the best! I could see--his fork begins to rattle-- Wants to eat--and I would eat the queen! With this appetizer, I could use a bottle! But alcohol's prohibited within. And I'm hungry, -- do not be surprised! -- Eggs and coffee is our only food! Squares are more like circles in my eyes, Kings are more like aces in disguise, I confuse a double with debut. There's a superstition - risk's worth taking! -- "First time's lucky!"--and I think I'm ready. I will punish him with constant checking -- Oh, if only I could make my pawn a lady! I can't make a choice; all seems so blurry-- And it's time to strike I take my aim! Hit him with the rook? -- Seems kind of surly Right hook to the jaw? - A little early, After all, it's only our first game. Breaking my defense, he quickly strikes me -- With an Indian approach-- from every angle. This situation seemingly reminds me Of an Indo-Pakistani struggle! He should've never joked around with fate! I have my methods -- I attack when mad. If he decides to end it with a mate, Then, I will tackle him, becoming more irate, Or hit him with a knight... right on the head! Then, just a notch of speed I've started gaining-- And all was not as dismal as it seemed. In the world of chess, a pawn, with training Can evolve, with time into a queen. With deception my opponent played: He'd get up and walk and come around. He proposed to me a castle trade, It is natural for him to be afraid-- When I bench three hundred lying down! I diminished his small figure with my stare. At the moment when he told me, "Check," I revealed my biceps, strong and bare, Took my jacket off for more effect. At that moment everything grew quiet My opponent, watched me rise in awe He forgot the game for just a while, Realizing-- he was held confined, Suddenly agreed to have draw.

Fastidious horses

Along the gap, right by the cliff, where the edge is very narrow With the whip I lash my horses, striking harder, force applying... There's no air for me to breathe,-- I drink the wind, the mist I swallow I can feel with tragic passion that I am dying, that I am dying! Slow it down, horses, calm your eagerness! Do not listen to the old tight thong! But the horses that I've got are fastidious-- Had no time to fully live or sing the song... I'll allow them to drink, and this verse I will sing Just a little bit longer I will stay on the brink... Like a flake, a brutal twister will then sweep me off the palm In the morning, by the sledge, on the snow I'll heave and welter Slow your gallop, oh my horses,-- make it peaceful and calm And extend, somewhat, my journey to the last and final shelter Slow it down, horses, calm your eagerness! Do not listen to the old tight thong! But the horses that I've got are fastidious-- Had no time to fully live or sing the song... I'll allow them to drink, and this verse I will sing Just a little bit longer I will stay on the brink... We came in time - there's no lateness to God's palace-- Why are angels singing there with their loud, angry voices? And perhaps it is the bell, which is weeping thus with malice, When I'm screaming "Slow it down!" to the wild, unruly horses? Slow it down, horses, calm your eagerness! I'm begging you, do not charge so strong! But the horses that I've got are fastidious-- Had no time to live, -- let me finish this song! I'll allow them to drink, and this verse I will sing And just for a moment, I will stay on the brink...

x x x

Debris-- Debris remaining from the crown With no state, no throne around There is no country left to govern-- All is damned! And we're-- Chased to holes like hunted game, Caught like thieves to face the blame, There's only blood and shame, To withstand! For us, It's impossible to find, With whom to split, with whom to bind, Who's with us and whom to mind, Where to go, where to unwind -- we can't tell. Where's spirit? Where's honor? Where's guilt? Where are friends and where are strangers, How did we neglect this danger, Do we wish to cast this land to hell? And shame-- On all of those who value rest On those, whose conscience is a pest, Who cannot choose in all this mess To kill. A call!... And like a bull during a fray, Like a hawk -- after a prey, Seducing ravens all to stay For the meal. Hey you! Where's the strength that lit your face? Where's the pride with which we've gazed? To rest today -- it's a disgrace! Grip the pistol in your hand and go! An end! To all An end! All is broken, all seems brittle We are left with just a little, -- Aiming at the temple or the foe.

x x x

My friends light up the candles for me still, And in the smoke, your image is outlined, And I don't want to know that time will heal, That everything will pass away with time. No longer will I ever lose my verve, For any burden on my soul and any pain, Unknowingly, she took along with her-- At first, into the port, then on the plane. Inside my soul there are deserted lands. What are you seeking in this fruitless blur?! There are just fragments of old songs and webs, And all the rest she took along with her. Inside my soul are goals without means. Go dig inside,-- you'll find there, by chance, Two simple phrases and unfinished scenes, And all the rest is now in Paris, France. My friends light up the candles for me still, And in the smoke, your image is outlined, But I don't want to know that time will heal, That everything will pass away with time.

Last-modified: Tue, 02 May 2000 07:47:35 GMT
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