Vladimir Vysotsky. A Ballad of Fighting.

On Fatal Dates and Figures.

To the poets, my friends.

It’s known that a true poet meets a tragic culmination,

And also it’s important when it falls out.

At twenty-six, his end one in a pistol duel faced,

Another in a noose in that darned hostel.

When Christ was thirty-three... He was a poet, and he said,

“Don’t kill! if not, I’ll find thee everywhere.”

They nailed his hands to stop his teaching, to suppress the threat

To being rich of his immense affairs.

When I think over thirty-seven, I sober up right off,

And now again it gives me lots of trouble,

Because at thirty-seven, great Pushkin get the deadly shot,

And Mayakovsky with a shot was done for.

Let’s stay for a short while at thirty-seven. So yes or no?

This question should be necessarily answered.

On this so bloody point, we lost as Byron as Rimbaud,

But modern poets often found ways to pass it.

The duel was delayed awhile, or one might never fought,

At thirty-three they crucified him slightly.

At thirty-seven, his tears were sometimes shed, ’stead of blood hot,

His hair then turned gray, but only lightly.

“You’ve gotten, O poets, frightened,” they scoff, “and can no longer fight?”

Have patience, all you neurasthenic creatures!

The poets walk with bare feet on the steel blade of life

And cut their bare souls till they get bleeding.

I pity you, supporters and adherents of fatal dates,

You’re just like concubines in harems longing.

Our life expectancy has grown considerably of late,

And, maybe, now the poets will last longer.

Of course, the poet’s neck is simply destined for the noose,

His chest is the right mark for bolts and bullets.

But dates and immortality are subjects which are loose,

So let the poets live, don’t you be fumed at.

1971.

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