Poems and Songs of Vladimir Vysotsky. Serving the Elements.

The White Silence.Adapted from Stas and Margaret Porokhnya, Sergey Roy
and George Tokarev’s translations by Akbar Muhammad.

It’s in each and all centuries been thus on this earth
That all things tend to run from the frost and snowstorms.
So wherefore toward the North their way wing these birds,
If the South’s the right subject the birds should long for?

They need not any fame, any stateliness.
Soon the ice will be out of sight —
And they’ll find there their birds’ blessedness
As a prize for this daring flight.

So why we lingered not in a cozy bed,
What compelled us to sail through the vehement ocean?
We’ve not seen — it’s a pity! — the Northern lights yet,
For they give not light often — it’s the things of vast cost.

Silence reigns. Only seagulls like lightning streaks,
Pecking hungrily, flash all around.
But we’ll get for the silence and trustiness,
As a prize, the so-long dreamed of sound.

Even dreams in the North are in pale, bloodless white,
All the colors are hidden out under the snow.
With this whiteness around, we’ve long lost our sight,
With the first strip of black we’ll recover it, though.

Our throats will become free from wordlessness,
Our weariness will fade away,
And we’ll get for the nights of despondency,
As a prize, the perennial day.

There are hope and freedom, and space, and the snow —
Clean white snow with no mud, like a life with no lies...
Our eyes won’t be ever pecked out by crows,
For such things in the North can’t keep up their life.

He who trusted not in doleful prophecies,
Who lay not in the snow on the way —
He’ll for certain for the long, utter loneliness,
As a prize, meet somebody — some day!


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