Vladimir Vysotsky. Service to the Elements.

The Storm.

The world of seamen differs in the root,
And here’s a pair of words which make the difference:
Thus, for example, “to lay” doesn’t mean “to put”,
And with “a yard” no seaman measures distance.

We have a knowledge, not a superstition,
Give credence to scent, hear what the compass says.
The muscled wind delights us with its mission
It strains the linen skin of our sails.

The shining Stars guide us through storms and fogs,
And Father Neptune watches our sailing.
Sometimes the pack of hungry Hunting Dogs
Pursues and tries to fright us, madly wailing.

Yes, we’re the phantom of a mythic clipper,
We balance in the cup of starry Scales.
The wind, once friendly, turned into a ripper,
And rips the linen skin of our sails!

We see ahead another far-heard one,
Which sails even if the wind is intervening.
Look at the dangling noose on her yard-arm,
A needful piece of this ship’s running rigging!

It was a wrong affair to tempt the Deity:
Who can resist, when Father calls a halt?
Whatever they launch out is false and wasted,
No wind will ever bring them to a port.

Just now we’re getting enigmatic calls,
A flavor of the former times they’re having...
It’s not the thirst for epic fame on scrolls,
That forces us to sail when seas are heavy.

We go here through a miraculous emotion
Drink this blue space with our eyes and skin!..
The one, who sees but water in the Ocean,
Walks on the Land and doesn’t observe the hills.

Sing, hurricane, thy stormy songs of ire,
Grip our brains with thy tenacious hand
In our hearts, thy melodies inspire
Love of the Heavens, the Ocean and the Land!

1976.

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