Vladimir Vysotsky. Who For What Runs.

The Sentimental Boxer’s Song.Adapted from Serge Elnitsky and George
Tokarev’s translations by Akbar Muhammad.

A bang, a bang, once more a bang,
 

 
 and then a bang again...

It’s Victor Gruzdev hits the bag —
 

 
 alas, it’s me today.

I’m hoping to survive this round,
 

 
 I’m praying for the bell.

An uppercut, I’m on the ground,
 

 
 and I’m not feeling well...

And while my keen rival
 

 
 was hitting my nose,

He thought that his life’s like
 

 
 the one of a rose.

The ref says, “Nine!” — I’m half alive,
 

 
 but on my feet again.

I dodge, I leap, I block, I dive —
 

 
 and thus even points I gain.

I don’t conserve my strength, by plan,
 

 
 for rushing to a charge —

I just can’t hit my fellow man,
 

 
 I just don’t think it’s right.

But while my keen rival
 

 
 was stomping my toes,

He thought that his life’s like
 

 
 the one of a rose.

My fellow townsmen howl and cry,
 

 
 I’m near to down their hopes.

My rival strives for a close fight,
 

 
 while I attempt to dodge.

As he’s a Cossack, he’ll get it,
 

 
 they’re really hard to shake.

I told him, “Friend, why’d you not sit?
 

 
 ye’re tired, take a break!”

But he didn’t find out as
 

 
 he breathed our close

And thought that his life’s like
 

 
 the one of a rose.

He keeps on hitting with a snort,
 

 
 the curtain soon must fall...

Don’t call this murder — it’s the sport
 

 
 of strong men and so on!

He’s reached complete exhaustion, and —
 

 
 collapses with a sigh...

The ref did lift up my right hand,
 

 
 which hadn’t hurt even a fly.

He lay there and thought that
 

 
 the life of a rose

Belongs to the person,
 

 
 who doesn’t strive for force.

1966.

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