Poems and Songs of Vladimir Vysotsky. A Ballad of Fighting.

Commentary to the song “On Fatal Dates and Figures”.

This song calls to mind Alexander Pushkin’s poem “To the Poet” (adapted from Rupert Moreton’s translation):

O poet! take no care of people’s valuation.
For soon to pass is the nice moment of their praise;
Ye’ll hear the crowd’s laugh and a blockhead’s estimation:
But ye stay strong, serene and sombre all your days.
Ye are a Tsar: lead your life’s course in isolation.
Oh, may on freedom’s road your unshackled mind you lead,
And, looking not for guerdon for your noble deed,
Ye bring with love your outcomes to sophistication.
Ye are your highest judge. The gift belongs to you;
More strictly than the rest ye weigh up what ye do.
Tell me, O picky master, are your outcomes pleasing?
So are ye pleased? Then let the crowd your work despise,
And sputter on the altar where your flames arise,
And make your tripod trembling with its childish teasing.

Here also comes to mind Gabdulla Tukay’s poem “For Memory”.

“At twenty-six, his end one in a pistol duel faced...” — Mikhail Lermontov was killed in a duel at the age of twenty-six.

“...another — in a noose in that darned hostel” — Sergey Yesenin was found hanged in the Angleterre Hotel in Leningrad when there remained three days be­fore the start of 1926 (there is no doubt that he died a violent death).

A l e x a n d e r P u s h k i n was mortally wounded in a duel at the age of thirty-seven in 1837.

V l a d i m i r M a y a k o v s k y shot himself shortly before reaching thirty-seven years old (his death seems to be the result of a failed suicide stim­u­la­tion).

G e o r g e B y r o n died at the thirty-seventh year of his life.

A r t h u r R i m b a u d died at the age of thirty-seven.

The presented text is partly adapted from Eugeny Derbarmdiker and Sergey Roy’s translations.

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