Vladimir Vysotsky. A Road Story.

AAdapted from George Tokarev and Alex Tolkachev’s translations by Akbar Muhammad. Road Story.

I’ve grown up a handsome lad thanks to my Mom and to my Dad

And got along with different people well, indeed.

I never bent my mighty back, and never meant to cheat or stack,

And both my hands did help my head in what I did.

My life was full of jabs and kicks I was imprisoned, then beat the bricks,

And wandered o’er the whole country back and forth.

I thought I’d never get a job, but met up a recruiter snob,

And now I’m driving heavy trucks up to the North.

The road is muddy and the truck has sunk to axles and gotten stuck.

We can but wait, my mate for long is keeping mum.

I wish he’d rather bark or bray three hundred miles on either way,

But he’s just clattering his teeth, my driving chum.

We both knew well about the road, and how they waited for this load,

So we set off despite the risks such is our trade.

The year’s ending is today three hundred miles on either way,

And the snowstorm has cut us out from any aid.

He suddenly bursts out with a yell, “Switch off this bloody truck to hell!

By sitting here we really go to the doom!

Three hundred miles on either way ye’re crazy if ye wanna stay,

Soon the snowstorm will turn this truck into a tomb!”

I say to him, “Ye make me retch,” but in return he grabs a wrench,

And stares at me, his face is like a deadly mask.

Three hundred miles on either way, and he, who’ll be successful to stay,

Prove out his innocence to coppers when they ask.

He was my brother, and e’en more I used to hand-feed him before,

And now his eye is as malign as it could be.

If he can get the lucky stripe, no one will e’er call to mind

The circumstance that what he’s gotten he owes to me.

But he set forward to the dark. I wished him all the best of luck,

Then fell asleep and dreamed about our merry feast:

Three hundred miles on either way, and there’s a labyrinth where I stray

I seek the exit and can’t find, it doesn’t exist!

The end was simple through the snow rolled up a tractor with a tow,

And with a doctor so the truck has reached its goal.

My mate returned, and he looked whipped... Well, soon there’ll be another trip

I don’t hold grudges, we’re companions after all.


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