Vladimir Vysotsky. My Hamlet.

I’m an exotic man, to put it mildly...

I’m an exotic man, to put it mildly,
My tastes and wants are reckoned strange by folks:
I can simultaneously nibble glasses wildly
And read, in the original, Plato’s works.
There are two “Selves”, two counter poles inside me,
Two absolutely different men, two foes:
When one is eager to attend the library,
Right to the tavern, the other wants to course.

I don’t take any liberties, when aiming
To be myself, then I go the whole hog,
But frequently my other “Self” delays me
To be an angel, and appears a rogue.
And I resist, oppress this rogue’s intrusion.
My God! I’ve spent my days in great distress—
It may befall (I’m so scared of confusion)
That it’s my actual “Self” what I oppress.

When in my soul I open up the facets
In places where I’m candid all along,
I go by taxi paying but in assets,
And waitresses feed me just for a song.
But suddenly all my ideals go to grass, as
I’m fretful, angry, rude and such a bore!
I sit like mad and masticate the glasses,
While Plato’s works are scattered on the floor.

...The hearing’s on. I stand and speak austerely
(Appealing to the jury, I show tact),
“It wasn’t me who’d smashed that glass case, believe me,
It was my other wicked ‘Self’, in fact.
Don’t be too strict to your accused, you’d better
Give me a time, but not a prison time—
I’ll visit the court-rooms as a spectator,
The jury will be the best friends of mine.

“I won’t smash cases any more, distinctly,
Nor beat my neighbors—write it in your scroll!
I’ll reunite the halves of my soul sickly
Into a fine and beauteous single whole.
I’ll root it out, lay in the grave and quench it,
I want to open to all men my soul!
My other ‘Self’ is alien to my nature,
No, now it’s not my other ‘Self’, at all.”

1969.

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