Vladimir Vysotsky. There Was Once a Man.

AAdapted from Stas and Margaret Porokhnya and
Sergey Roy’s translations by Akbar Muhammad.
Robber Song.

In the darkest corner of
Evil dark lands, out in the sticks,
Once a plucky fellow roved,
And he got but thorns and kicks.

In offense he walked knee-deep, yeah, knee-deep,

Sometimes was submerged he,

And his endless, cruel grief

Can be called unearthly.

Drink until it makes thee bloated
Even if thou’rt out of cash!
It doesn’t matter how the rope twists,
It will twist into a lash!

Through the wide world grim fate drives
Hapless ones to beg for bread.
And between their fingers life
Slips just like the spider’s thread.

As for those who dared to walk, dared to walk

For evil luck on highways

They were driven by the winds cold

Straight into the dark jails.

There’s no mercy here, it’s hopeless
Clench thy teeth and get a grip!
It doesn’t matter how the rope twists,
It will twist into a whip!

What a wild, what a troubled land,
I was scouring here for long
But thy scaffolds make thee grand,
And thy slippery strong rope...

Satan takes in his own hands those who’re hanged,

Their bare heels he’s licking.

There’s no even an earthly chance,

And folks call this living!

Laugh, don’t weep and quit thy groaning
There’s no pardon to those who cry.
It doesn’t matter how the rope twists,
Once it will be cut to size!

Thoughts are bitter when comes night,
But the carpenters don’t hang round.
There folks don’t have their last rites
At too early hours they’re downed.

There’s no sense for thee in thinking of this

What’s good in the slow motion?

And the rope that waits for thee

Surely has no knots on.

Better lie down where it’s warmest
It’s the proper time to snooze...
It doesn’t matter how the rope twists,
It will twist into a noose!


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