Vladimir Vysotsky. Service to the Elements.

A Corsair.

To Yury Lyubimov.

For seven years our corsair sailed the seas,
And our banner hasn’t lost its colors.
We’ve learned to fix the clipper sails in storm or breeze,
And plug with our bodies cracks and holes.

We’ve met a squadron, and it’s firmly chasing us.
The sea is calm, the wind is intervening.
But our captain said to us without fuss,
“It isn’t evening yet, it isn’t evening!”

The flagship frigate took in sails and made a turn,
And then her portholes started spitting fire.
We’re gunning back, and our balls have smashed her stern!
We hear execrations and shrieks of suffering!

We’ve been through worse, and our fortune is still in;
But there is no wind, and holds are leaking.
Yet our captain shouts above the hellish din,
“It isn’t evening yet, it isn’t evening!”

Through mighty telescopes a hundred glaring eyes
Spy how we endure these deadly rallies;
But no one will ever view us in the guise
Of slaves chained up to oars in navy galleys!

They outnumber us, soon our ship may sink.
Save our souls! Make the chances even!
But our captain doesn’t ever even blink!
“It isn’t evening yet, it isn’t evening!”

He who is merry, who is brave, who isn’t heel
Prepare your blades and handguns for infighting!
But rats may quit the ship it isn’t a big deal,
We don’t need them in the mortal fighting!

And rats were praying doing jumping overboard,
“The Lord save us from bullets, balls and skinning!”
While we were nearing the frigate board by board
It isn’t evening yet, it isn’t evening!

Knife knifing knife, face facing face, eye eyeing eye!
So that not to be cut with lobsters’ nippers,
Some in a rage, some in a fury, some in cry,
We were departing our sinking clipper.

But our ship! They won’t sink her in the end
The sea will keep her, she’ll prevent her sinking.
Because the sea is our ever-loyal friend,
And it’s for certain true it isn’t evening!

1968.

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