Vladimir Vysotsky. A Ballad of Fighting.

The Famous Regiment.

The colonel kissed the colors’ honored silk,
And, having spat up in a rage his dentures,
Called his brave men, “My sons, ye’re born to win!
Heap scorn on death, my cutthroats, ye can venture!”

And, being highly of their colors proud,
Inspired by that speech full of deep passion,
Some fighters cut their way right to the front,
They pushed away the others as they cut,
And fell down from the grapeshot in succession.

The cunning ones and those ones who weren’t brave,
To pay this price, didn’t see a cogent reason,
And in the rear decided to escape,
But in the backs they were by their friends strafed
For the dishonorable and shameful treason.

Let now a third of fighters have no boots,
Soon such a destiny will be for others.
The famous regiment, unshaken and true,
There are but the preeminent, crack cutthroats!

The other ones, when being ’midst the worst,
About the fronts and backs of theirs were careful
They had no wish to be as ’mongst the firsts
As ’mongst the lasts, and, just as those who thirst
For water strive, for the gold mean they wrestled.

There will be works by them about this time,
And on the gilt-framed pictures will meet death they,
Those ones who never were in the first lines
Or in the lasts, those who will take a pride
That in the mean they nobly vegetated.

Has fallen silent the clear trumpeter for aye,
’Cep for the iron’s, there are heard no sounds now.
The famous regiment, unfalse and stable,
There are but the preeminent, crack cutthroats!

No, by such fighters could be never stained
The honor of the colors, and it smoothened
The colonel’s breath. As for the ones who stayed
In the gold mean, they’re not so much to blame
If some should die, than some, of course, should pull through.

But no one’s star is dimmer than their one,
They’ll certainly set out to the eternals
From their soft beds those ones who stayed behind
The daredevils, but not in the last lines
The gold mean’s wise and reasonable persons.

Lies in the mud the colors, honored silk,
The colonel’s dentures by the hoofs are crushed up...
The famous regiment!.. But did this one exist,
The regiment where each one was a cutthroat?

1971.

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