Poems and Songs of Vladimir Vysotsky. The Interrupted Flifht.

The Monument.Adapted from Stas and Margaret Porokhnya, George Tokarev
and Anonymous’ translations by Akbar Muhammad.

Dreading bullets or words not an ounce,
While alive, I wasn’t feeble or sickly
And no regular mold did I fit.
But right after my death was announced,
I was set on a pedestal quickly,
And they fixed my Achilles in it.

I can’t shake off the flesh, made of granite,
Can’t extract from the pedestal-tribune
This Achilles, the vulnerable heel,
As the pedestal structure — God damn it! —
Is, with concrete, held safely and firmly,
But convulsions down my spine do I feel.

I was proud of my broad and wide shoulders —

Whose were like them?

But I’ve been fully ruled by the molders —

Still alive men,

Knocked me into a regular mold just

For a wager —

To reduce my so broad and wide shoulders

These ones ventured.

It was hard to be smarter and faster
In creating a mask with my features,
Than my kin were right after my death,
And my Asian cheekbones off that plaster
Were erased by these mischievous creatures,
Who gave them this advice, I can’t guess.

I didn’t wander or think, even while dreaming,
Of that fate, nasty, rotten and goddamn —
To direct the dead men’s rank or file.
But the white plaster surface was beaming
With cold light, and the reliquary boredom
Radiated from my toothless smile.

While alive, I didn’t give greedy beings

Even a finger,

With a standard criterion, people

Feared to ring me,

But as soon as I’d died, were all sizes

Offhand taken,

I was measured with calipers by the


Later on, when the dust had all settled,
For to crown my clear rehabilitation,
A huge multitude gathered to see
My cast statue made of stone and metal,
To unveil it ’midst great jubilation
And my songs from the magnetized reels.

Mighty lights changed that night into morning,
Speakers blew up the orderly silence
With my tunes all the country had learned.
But my voice, through despair gruff and roaring,
By the latest achievements of science,
Into pleasant falsetto was turned.

I was speechless, as all mortals fated,

’Neath the cerement,

And I yelled as if being castrated

To the people.

They’ve unveiled me and seen — I’m diminished,

Trimmed and quiet...

Would you need me like this at the finish

Of my riot?

The Commander’s footsteps I remembered,
And I thought, “Will I give them some trouble
Just by walking a little around?”
The crowds scrammed as my spine I unbent and
As I pulled out my legs from that marble,
And, from me, the stones crumbled around.

Having leant, I was awful and naked;
And I, through my weak legs, had to fall down,
But I still did continue to strive!
With my muscles I’ve managed to make it.
Though my lips were as bleeding as swollen,
After crashing, I screamed, “I’m alive!”

And my fall hasn’t left me twisted, mangled,

Bent or wounded,

And my metal cheekbones, sharply angled,

Now protruded!

I didn’t manage the way which was wanted,

As they planned it.

I, instead of that, publicly flaunted

Out of granite.


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