Poems and Songs of Vladimir Vysotsky. The Hill.

Commentary to the song “Condemned to Life”.

Here comes to mind Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Captive”:

Not with an outcry to Allah nor any complaining
He answered his name at the muster and stood to the chaining.
When the twin anklets were nipped on the leg-bars that held them,
He brotherly greeted the armourers stooping to weld them.
Ere the sad dust of the marshalled feet of the chain-gang swallowed him,
Observing him nobly at ease, I alighted and followed him.
Thus we had speech by the way, but not touching his sorrow —
Rather his red Yesterday and his regal To-morrow,
Wherein he statelily moved to the clink of his chains unregarded,
Nowise abashed but contented to drink of the potion awarded.
Saluting aloofly his Fate, he made haste with his story,
And the words of his mouth were as slaves spreading carpets of glory
Embroidered with names of the Djinns — a miraculous weaving —
But the cool and perspicuous eye overbore unbelieving.
So I submitted myself to the limits of rapture —
Bound by this man we had bound, amid captives his capture —
Till he returned me to earth and the visions departed.
But on him be the Peace and the Blessing; for he was greathearted!

The song was written in 1973, performed in the film “The Only Road” (1974), where the Germans wanted to use captured Russian chauffeurs chained in the cabs of gas­o­line tankers for delivering fuel to the tank fleet in Germany.

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