Vladimir Vysotsky. A Ballad of Fighting.

An Eastern Parable.

Through all times preceding, next and present
Short and strong should be the necks of folks
Almost from the chins should go the chests and
Should begin the backs right from the noddles.

On the neck that hardly can be spotted,
Comfortably and easy sits the noddle,
For it’s hard to put the fingers on it,
And the lasso can’t be surely thrown.

But they crane their necks to make them longer,
Being on the tiptoe of fond hopes
If one wants to see what’s further onward,
He should cast a glance o’er the folks’ tops.

Be aware that thou’rt a dark horse now,
Even if thou’st seen a light ahead,
For the cause that insecure’s thy posture,
And open’s for the lasso thy slight neck.

So a wicked jackal full of spite is
Free to sit and count up thy neck’s bones.
Far’s thy sight, but one won’t call far-sighted
Living with the open neck ’midst the folks.

But they crane their necks to make them longer,
Being on the tiptoe of fond hopes
If one wants to see what’s further onward,
He should cast a glance o’er the folks’ tops.

Raising thy noddle high and spitting round thee
Bring about thy doom with thy own hand.
By the way, the genuine commander
Slaps down his foot flat upon the land.

Every one in Asia’s used to ambush,
So a demigod won’t let them creep
After him till they give him a grand push,
Hard enough to knock him off his feet.

But they crane their necks to make them longer,
Being on the tiptoe of fond hopes
If one wants to see what’s further onward,
He should cast a glance o’er the folks’ tops.

He who’s gave his nerves even a little slack’s like
One who’s dropped the reins and lost control
Surely he’ll be tackled up from the back by
Them who want to take his neck and hold.

Thou couldst prefer to take no chances,
Hunching up thy shoulders round thy chin,
But don’t hope to get admiring glances,
If thy noddle’s so miserably pinned.

And they crane their necks to make them longer,
Being on the tiptoe of fond hopes
If one wants to see what’s further onward,
He should cast a glance o’er the folks’ tops.

Being in the East, I’ve heard this story
From a native man, gray-haired and wise.
“Oh, my God! here even folk tales are gory,”
Thought I, and checked out my neck for size.

1973.

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