Vladimir Vysotsky. Service to the Elements.

Man Overboard.

To Anatoly Garagulya.

The rugged wind with hellish screeches sang—
The seamen couldn’t wait for any pardon.
The ropes tore the skin on palms and—bang!—
“Man overboard!”—they heard all of a sudden.

And at once—“Full astern! Boat in water!”—
The strict skipper was brief in his speech.
“Rescue that good-for-nothing bitch’s daughter
Or, perhaps, witless son of a bitch!”

Life on the Land is opposite, I guess—
To be alone in any plight I’m bound.
The landsmen won’t save me from a mess,
And sirens of alarm will never sound.

With no one’s aid my woe will lessen,
But, instead, they’ll assert they’re right.
And I’ll hear, “We’ll teach you a lesson!
Ye yourself must get rid of your plight!”

My former team will leave me far behind.
I’d want them to become a little better...
Man overboard is what they’ll never mind,
For none of them his woe is a question.

They’ll rush on, so content, so conceited,
On the way that’s so lit and so broad—
It’s quite right that nonstarters defeated
Are intended to stay overboard!

I wish the storm to sweep me to the Sea—
High waves and winds will greet me on arrival.
Then there will be sent a boat for me,
And thus I’ll get good chances for survival.

Then they’ll pull me with hooks by my robe—
Odds for saving your garments increase—
And the boat board, exactly like hope,
With all strength of myself will I seize!

So I’m on board, the ship is on the course.
Folks hand me weeds and hearts of their own.
And if once more I go to the worse—
A life-buoy by these seamen will be thrown.

There storms happen all year round,
And the seamen keep watches and ward...
But they’ll never let someone be drowned
In the case he’ll be washed overboard!


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