Vladimir Vysotsky. Life Is Twisted.

AAdapted from Bruce and Kathryn Hamilton, George Tokarev
and Daria Verzhbovsky’s translations by Akbar Muhammad.
t the Masquerade.

I want to be awakened with all my soul,
And laugh and weep as near distorting mirrors:
As during the Venetian fancy-ball,
Here all perform the parts of different heroes.

They come on me bright costumes trimmed with lace,
I’m pulled inside, I’m being pinched and shaken.
Well, now I see my normal human face
By all of them just for a mask was taken.

Each one came from folklore or from a book,
Their wigs and masks are fulvous, golden, ruby...
Here’s Harlequin, who has a grievous look,
The next one’s Hangman, while the other’s Booby.

I join their merry dance and laugh, although,
I’m not convinced that it’s the right endeavor:
Say, one may like the mask of Hangman so
That he’ll decide to keep this mask forever;

Say, Harlequin will be forever grave,
Enjoying his abnormal wistful image;
Or, the dull look this Booby simulates
Will stay forever on his normal visage...

Should I escape from this deceptive feast?
Or should enjoy myself with these strange creatures?
I stay in hopes that many masks of beasts
Conceal not beasts, but people’s handsome features.

It seems that for this dance, I can’t be fit,
The masks look upon me with objurgation.
They cry that I’ve incessantly missed the beat,
That hitting partners’ foot isn’t a good action.

The spiteful masks make fun of such a sloth,
The jolly ones become severe and vicious.
Behind the masks, as if behind the wall,
They hide their human unaffected visage.

The modest muses, here and there I chase,
But frankly speaking, I have no intentions
To ask someone to show her pretty face
There might be masks behind the masks, not faces.

I’ve sunk into the mystery of masks,
And here’s my openhearted explanation:
The mask of coldness wearing by someones
Protect them from their mean deeds’ compensation.

Yes, if without the mask one was a knave,
It’s good to wear it. But your case is facing:
Why have you taken somebody else’s shape,
While your own one is evidently graceful?

How not to miss a generous, kind face,
How to divine fair people with precision?
They wear the masks not through a paltry case
In order to protect themselves from jeers.


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