Vladimir Vysotsky. A Road Story.

AAdapted from Stas and Margaret Porokhnya and
George Tokarev’s translations by Akbar Muhammad.
bout a Car Crash.

Maybe, ye’re crossing a road, safe and sound,
And there appears a car from the bend...
With all these carriers driving around
Lots of us don’t reach our natural end.
Friday a hearse badly crashed on our highway,
Three fellows rode to bury their mate
All were disfigured, and also a driver,
Only that lad in his coffer escaped.

Women sobbed hard through clenched teeth to earn money,
Trumpets of brass were uncandid and dry,
Also the deacon’s high notes went funny
Only that lad in his coffer didn’t lie.
His former boss, a notorious joker,
Kissed him despite his aversion and spurn,
All did the same, though that lad in his coffer
Wasn’t kind to give even a kiss in return.

It started raining all went helter-skelter,
What can do mortals against Nature’s will?
All rushed away to discover a shelter,
Only that lad in his coffer stayed still.
Wet weather doesn’t bother him any longer,
There’s no cold he’s likely to catch
I must admit that dead men are much stronger
Than living ones, and we can’t be their match!

Being alive, ye should live in a hurry,
Rumors and gossips in all quarters fly,
But they can’t give you a moment of worry
When in a coffer of oak ye lie.
It’s not important if it’s personal or common
Dead men aren’t troubled o’er housing like us.
He’s an obliging and pleasant man, our goner
Nothing can force him to kick up a fuss.

Hades is silent and also profound,
There’s no mess, no dirt, no sludge;
While we, like crazy, wayfare around,
Those who lie in their coffers don’t budge.
“He praises death!” someone angrily hisses.
No, it’s with our cruel fate I’m upset:
We any time can be crushed into pieces,
Barring the men who already are dead.


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