Poems and Songs of Vladimir Vysotsky. A Song about Friendship.
Commentary to the song “My comrade now isn’t here, but...”
There is a good old saying: “Alter ego est amicus.” (“A friend is another self.”)
And, of course, here comes to mind Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The Thousandth Man” (the first line is changed):
One man in a thousand, Sirach’s son says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it’s worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.
’Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for ’ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him,
The rest of the world don’t matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.
You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of ’em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man he’s worth ’em all
Because you can show him your feelings.
His wrong’s your wrong, and his right’s your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men’s sight
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can’t bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot — and after!
The song was written in 1971, performed in the radio play “The Green Wagon”.