Vladimir Vysotsky. Who For What Runs.

The Tightrope Walker.

He didn’t ever for rank or for height hope.
Not for fame and not for payment,
In his own odd way, with some verve,
Through his life, he was walking the tightrope—
Not the pavement, not the pavement—
The tightrope strained just as a nerve.

Look! He’s facing a fall—


on the cord he’s again!

Not protected at all,


is he sane or insane?

Just a very little swerve—


and he’ll be dead at once...

But there must be a reason why he needs to pass

All these four shaky quarters of the path.

“Don’t ye worry, he many times did it,”
To two bears from Malaya,
Sea kind learned lions said hot.
But without cessation repeated
Parrots hateful, parrots hateful,
“He’ll certainly fall down and be lost!”

Look! He’s facing a fall—


on the cord he’s again!

Not protected at all,


is he sane or insane?

Just a very little swerve—


and he’ll be dead at once...

There should be a real reason why he needs to pass

All these four shaky quarters of the path.

O’er the spotlights he tripped on his bouts,
Rays were prickly, sharp and nimble,
The trumpet was going insane.
He was deafened by whistles and shouts,
And the cymbals, and the cymbals
Were hammering into his brain!

Look! He’s facing a fall—


on the cord he’s again!

Not protected at all,


is he sane or insane?

Just a very little swerve—


and he’ll be dead at once...

But be quiet, since now what he’s bound to pass

Are but three shaky quarters of the path.

“Oh, how awful, how daring, how lovely!
Fighting death—with no illusion!”—
They opened wide their mouths and eyes.
From the stalls they looked up at him glumly—
“Lilliputians, Lilliputians,”
He thought looking down on those guys.

Look! He’s facing a fall—


on the cord he’s again!

Not protected at all,


is he sane or insane?

Just a very little swerve—


and he’ll be dead at once...

But keep silence, by now what he’s bound to pass

Are but two shaky quarters of the path.

He mocked at fleeting fame, but aspired
To be first, with all his might strove,
And feared no blows and no bumps.
It was our bare nerves put in fire,
Not the tightrope, not the tightrope,
Where he was whipped up by the drums!

Look! He’s facing a fall—


on the cord he’s again!

Not protected at all,


is he sane or insane?

Just a very little swerve—


and he’ll be dead at once...

But don’t worry, by now he’s just bound to pass

The final shaky quarter of the path.

1972.

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