Poems and Songs of Vladimir Vysotsky. The Heavenly Airfield.

A Song about the Fallen Friend.Adapted from George Tokarev and Tamara Vardomskaya’s translations by Akbar Muhammad.

To Nikolay Skomorokhov and his fallen friend.

All the war I was longing

 for my home and my town,

And though I got excited,

 I performed things quite right,

While he was in a hurry,

 once he bent not his crown,

And turned backward and forward, and only

 for two years he managed to fight.

So his pulse made no sound
From the forty-third spring,
As for me — yes, I’ve drowned
In the sweet postwar dream.

My desires are whetted,
But my breath often gets stuck...
He was kinder and better,
He was kinder and better,
But it’s me who had luck.

I lived not under cover,

 nor I asked for the rear,

I was ever aggressive,

 never trying to stack;

But I took an allusion,

 and sometimes with a sneer,

In the eyes of the widows I met with,

 “Perhaps instead of my man thou cam’st back.”

Each of them has her story,
And their look is so sad...
Wives, I also feel sorry
That your stars are too bad.

Once I blurted, “Forgive me,
For the fact I’m alive!
I returned without thinking,
I returned without thinking,
And your one wasn’t in time...”

He cried out in the ending,

 when his plane was flame-ridden,

“Live thou on! thou canst make it!” —

 through the roaring I heard.

Close to God we were flying,

 near Garden of Eden,

He just zoomed a bit higher and sat there,

 as for me — I made it to the Earth.

He was met as a great man
On the Heavenly airfield.
There the staff, without question,
Heard a lot about him.

Too far off he proceeded,
Never he’d move astern.
I returned — yes, I did it,
I returned — yes, I did it,
And he failed to return...

I’ll for ever be guilty

 toward my pals who were downed,

If I presently met them,

 I’d be honored with it.

Yes, we were able to finish

 this damned war safe and sound,

But we’re not able to quieten our conscience —

 those of us who had luck to get it.

God austerely and featly
Measured us days to keep,
Which we pass through as fleetly
As a plane the airstrip.

Some for ever ascended,
Some crashed on that airstrip...
As for me — yes, I landed,
As for me — yes, I landed,
It’s my fortune and grief.


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