Poems and Songs of Vladimir Vysotsky.

Vladimir Vysotsky.

HUNTING FOR WOLVES.

I. Hunting for Wolves.

All-out efforts are tearing my tendons,
But today looks just like yesterday—
I’m again absolutely hemmed in,
Being brought by the beaters to bay.

From behind pines, the barrels are rumbling,
There the hunters unflappably hide.
On the level, we’re writhing and tumbling,
Now each wolf is a target alive.

They’re hunting wolves! The hunt is in full swing now!
Both old and young gray beasts are being mown.
The dogs are barking and the people are screaming,
Red flags around and red spots on the snow.

One won’t say that the hunters play fair,
Our extension is flagged from each flank.
But the hunters don’t mind this affair,
With a firm hand, they shoot us point blank.

It’s the law, wolves mustn’t break with tradition—
Being cubs, unenlightened and small,
With the sucked milk, we’ve sucked in addition
That we mustn’t cross the flags line at all.

They’re hunting wolves! The hunt is in full swing now!
Both old and young gray beasts are being mown.
The dogs are barking and the people are screaming,
Red flags around and red spots on the snow.

People aren’t stronger than wolves, nor they’re faster—
Leader, give me the answer then, why
Being baited, we’ve moved toward the gun fire,
And to jump the flags line never tried?

It’s the law, and we must carry out it.
So my time very soon will be done.
And the hunter, who’s presently my master,
Grining sanguinely, rases his gun.

They’re hunting wolves! The hunt is in full swing now!
Both old and young gray beasts are being mown.
The dogs are barking and the people are screaming,
Red flags around and red spots on the snow.

I got rid of obedience and fear—
Jumped the flags, life is more than their lies!
And behind me I was glad to hear
Pealing shouts of disarray and surprise!

All-out efforts are tearing my tendons,
But today doesn’t look like yesterday—
I again was entirely hemmed in,
But haven’t brought by the beaters to bay!

They’re hunting wolves! The hunt is in full swing now!
Both old and young gray beasts are being mown.
The dogs are barking and the people are screaming,
Red flags around and red spots on the snow.

II. Hunting from Helicopters.

To Mikhail Shemyakin.

Like a razor, the daybreak slashed over the eyes,
From the rotten mere, took off the steel dragonflies,
As if talked of, the gunners presented themselves,
And the gun shutters opened by devilish spells,
And the merriment started—full-swing, at full pelt!

We lay down on our abdomens and hid our fangs.
Even those, even those who dove under the flags,
Who perceived the wolf holes with the pads of the paws,
Who couldn’t be overtaken even by the gun balls—
Also lay, bathed in sweat, in a tractable pose.

I’ve not heard of life’s smiling upon our wolf kin,
So our fondness for her is quite senseless.
On the contrary, death has a broad and pleasant grin,
And her teeth are all stalwart and healthy.

So let’s smile our disdainful wolf grin at the foes,
Now the dogs will again see who’re stronger!
But inscribed as a scarlet tattoo on the snow
Is our signature: we’re wolves no longer!

Thus we crawled—as the dogs’ ones, were tucked in our tails,
And our muzzles to the sky were surprisedly upraised:
Whether God’s retribution was spilt onto us,
Or it was the world’s ending, or we lost our nuts...
But we were beaten on end, and meant nothing our guts.

We got soaked through in blood in the rainstorm of lead—
With no chance for escaping, we no longer fled.
Our hot abdomens melted the snow, not the sun.
People, teached by the foe, made of our killing fun:
Those who flew died in flight, those who run—on the run...

With our wolf pack, ye dog pack don’t ever get mix,
If the mix-up is equal—we’ll knock you.
Look, we’re wolves—how remarkable our living is!
And ye’re dogs—ye should die as the dogs do!

So let’s smile our disdainful wolf grin at the foes,
Cutting short any rumours that wrong us.
But inscribed as a scarlet tattoo on the snow
Is our signature: we’re wolves no longer!

To the woods—I may rescue a few of you still!
To the woods, wolves! When running, it’s harder to kill!
Save the puppies! I’m thrashing around, easy prey
For the gunners in liquor, who’re eager to slay,
As I try to assemble the wolves’ souls gone astray!..

The survivors are over the stream, lying low.
Being of my own power, what can I perform?
As my sight as my nose are becoming no-good...
Wolves, where are ye who used to inhabit the woods?
Yellow-eyed kith and kin, just where are ye, my wolves?!

...I live on, but the beasts that surround me at present
Have no sentiment what our wolf call is.
These are dogs—our long-distance, forbidding relations,
Being our rightful prey in the old days.

And I smile our disdainful wolf grin at the foes,
Bare the stubs ’stead of teeth that are long gone.
But, inscribed as a scarlet tattoo on the snow,
Fades our signature: we’re wolves no longer!

III. As for today, I’ve passed initial phases...

As for today, I’ve passed initial phases,
I’m really fine and never lose my wool:
Big people call me up to their places
So that I’d sing how men are hunting wolves.

Perhaps, he heard a matter at thirdhand,
Or, maybe, there was his children’s order,
I don’t know—but, at any hand,
Some party boss once bought a tape-recorder.

And in a home, private atmosphere,
Relaxing after an eventful day,
Not loud, so that others wouldn’t hear,
He turned it on by pressing the button “Play”.

The tape he’d gotten was bad and made him sore,
But through the noise he heard the hissing sound
Of my “Wolf Hunting” and, besides, some more
Of those songs he reckoned underground.

The tape annoyed him with the awful grunting,
But as the message he somehow caught,
He called his aide, “The author of ‘Wolf Hunting’
Tomorrow to my office must be brought!”

For bravery no glass of wine I drank,
Though clammy fear in my guts was swelling,
And as the door was shut behind my back,
About wolves, like mad, I started yelling.

The boss was neither merciless nor vicious,
His children must have asked him to be warm.
He smiled and looked auspicious and propitious
And even clapped when my debut was o’er.

And, having offered me a brimful glass,
He said omitting mandatory “Cheers!”,
“To hell with wolves! It’s all about us,
About our life and our fears!”

Like an assiduous shire horse in traces,
I work for changes, my phone never cools:
Big people call me up to their places
So that I’d sing how men are hunting wolves.

1968—1978.

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