Poems and Songs of Vladimir Vysotsky. My Hamlet.

A Parable of Truth and Lie.Adapted from Andrey Kneller, Stas and Margaret Porokhnya,
Sergey Roy and Alec Vagapov’s translations by Akbar Muhammad.

To Bulat Okudzhava.

Delicate Truth took a walk in a lovely apparel,
Having spruced up to delight the poor invalids’ sight.
Coarse Lie decided to get this Truth over a barrel,
And asked her, “Why stay ye not at my place for the night?”

Thus with a heart full of trust Truth quite happily dozed off,
Blew little bubbles and smiled to herself as she dreamt.
Treacherous Lie slyly crept up and snatched her bedclothes off,
Dug into Truth and became of that fully content.

Then she got up and pulled her a wry bulldog’s face rudely,
“She’s just a woman, so why should she make someone care?”
One won’t see difference between Truth and Lie, absolutely,
With the proviso, of course, that they both will be bare.

Next she pulled out the ribbons of gold of her hair,
And grabbed her clothes and shoes, having taken measures by sight;
Picked up her documents, money and watch, lying there,
Spat on the floor, cursed incautious Truth and took to flight.

Truth in the morning woke up, and her losses discovered,
And felt amused as she looked at herself in the light:
By someone’s hand with black soot her clean body was covered
With many streaks, but the rest — more or less — looked all right.

Facing with stones, Truth but proudly laughed at the crowd,
“It’s all a lie, and it’s Lie who wears my lovely dress!”
Two blissful invalids wrote a report calling loud
Her by bad names and admonishing her for the mess.

She was called wicked and even much worse than just wicked,
Set by a mongrel, and plastered all over with mud...
And their decision ran, “She must be kicked out, evicted!
We must in twenty-four hours get rid of this slut!”

That long report was fulfilled with the scornful conclusion
(And, by the way, they blamed Truth for some crimes they hadn’t solved),
“This creature calls herself ‘Truth’ for the sake of confusion,
Since she’s a drunk who lay rough till her clothes have dissolved.”

Bowing to Lie has been easy from old times till now,
Nothing hurts like Truth, she makes all and sundry annoyed.
So uncorrupted Truth has since then roamed the rough ground,
Meeting with folks, through her bareness, she tries to avoid.

Sometimes it happens strives for Truth certain fellow pigheaded,
While there’s nothing of Truth in the words of that guy,
“One day neat Truth will distinctly be in the ascendant,
If plays the dirty tricks that were played by blatant Lie.”

So stay ye not for the night at the place that’s another’s,
Be always sure of your host and miss not warning signs.
One can be picked clean — I swear it’s the purest truth, brothers!
Look — it’s your hat on the head of perfidious Lie.
Look — it’s your watch on the hand of perfidious Lie.
Look — it’s your horse in the coach of perfidious Lie.


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