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At the Top of My voice

Written by: Vladimir Mayakovsky | Biography
 | Quotes (2) |
 My most respected
 comrades of posterity!
Rummaging among
 these days’ 
 petrified crap,
exploring the twilight of our times,
you,
 possibly,
 will inquire about me too.

And, possibly, your scholars
 will declare,
with their erudition overwhelming
 a swarm of problems;
once there lived
 a certain champion of boiled water,
and inveterate enemy of raw water.

Professor,
 take off your bicycle glasses!
I myself will expound
 those times
 and myself.

I, a latrine cleaner
 and water carrier,
by the revolution
 mobilized and drafted,
went off to the front
 from the aristocratic gardens 
of poetry - 
 the capricious wench
She planted a delicious garden,
the daughter,
 cottage,
 pond
 and meadow.

Myself a garden I did plant,
myself with water sprinkled it.
some pour their verse from water cans;
others spit water
 from their mouth - 
the curly Macks,
 the clever jacks - 
but what the hell’s it all about!
There’s no damming al this up - 
beneath the walls they mandoline:
“Tara-tina, tara-tine,
tw-a-n-g...” 
It’s no great honor, then,
 for my monuments
to rise from such roses
above the public squares,
 where consumption coughs,
where whores, hooligans and syphilis
 walk.

Agitprop
 sticks
 in my teeth too,
and I’d rather
 compose
 romances for you - 
more profit in it
 and more charm.

But I
 subdued
 myself,
 setting my heel
on the throat
 of my own song.
Listen,
 comrades of posterity,
to the agitator
 the rabble-rouser.

Stifling
 the torrents of poetry,
I’ll skip
 the volumes of lyrics;
as one alive,
 I’ll address the living.
I’ll join you
 in the far communist future,
I who am
 no Esenin super-hero.

My verse will reach you
 across the peaks of ages,
over the heads
 of governments and poets.

My verse 
 will reach you
not as an arrow
 in a cupid-lyred chase,
not as worn penny
Reaches a numismatist,
not as the light of dead stars reaches you.

My verse
 by labor
 will break the mountain chain of years,
and will present itself
 ponderous, 
 crude,
 tangible,
as an aqueduct,
 by slaves of Rome
constructed,
 enters into our days.

When in mounds of books,
 where verse lies buried,
you discover by chance the iron filings of lines,
touch them
 with respect,
 as you would
some antique
 yet awesome weapon.

It’s no habit of mine
 to caress
 the ear
 with words;
a maiden’s ear
 curly-ringed
will not crimson
 when flicked by smut.

In parade deploying
 the armies of my pages,
I shall inspect
 the regiments in line.

Heavy as lead,
 my verses at attention stand,
ready for death
 and for immortal fame.

The poems are rigid,
 pressing muzzle
to muzzle their gaping
 pointed titles.

The favorite 
 of all the armed forces
the cavalry of witticisms
 ready
to launch a wild hallooing charge,
reins its chargers still,
 raising
the pointed lances of the rhymes.
and all
 these troops armed to the teeth,
which have flashed by
 victoriously for twenty years,
all these,
 to their very last page,
I present to you,
 the planet’s proletarian.

The enemy
 of the massed working class
is my enemy too
 inveterate and of long standing.

Years of trial
 and days of hunger
 ordered us
to march 
 under the red flag.

We opened
 each volume
 of Marx
as we would open
 the shutters
 in our own house;
but we did not have to read
 to make up our minds
which side to join,
 which side to fight on.

Our dialectics
 were not learned
 from Hegel.
In the roar of battle
 it erupted into verse,
when,
 under fire,
 the bourgeois decamped
as once we ourselves
 had fled
 from them.
Let fame
 trudge
 after genius
like an inconsolable widow
 to a funeral march - 
die then, my verse,
 die like a common soldier,
like our men
 who nameless died attacking!
I don’t care a spit
 for tons of bronze;
I don’t care a spit
 for slimy marble.
We’re men of kind,
 we’ll come to terms about our fame;
let our
 common monument be
socialism
 built
 in battle.
Men of posterity
 examine the flotsam of dictionaries:
out of Lethe
 will bob up
 the debris of such words
as “prostitution,” 
 “tuberculosis,” 
 “blockade.” 
For you,
 who are now
 healthy and agile,
the poet
 with the rough tongue
 of his posters,
has licked away consumptives’ spittle.
With the tail of my years behind me,
 I begin to resemble
those monsters,
 excavated dinosaurs.
Comrade life,
 let us
 march faster,
march
 faster through what’s left
 of the five-year plan.
My verse
 has brought me
 no rubles to spare:
no craftsmen have made
 mahogany chairs for my house.
In all conscience,
 I need nothing
except
 a freshly laundered shirt.
When I appear 
 before the CCC
 of the coming
 bright years,
by way of my Bolshevik party card,
 I’ll raise
above the heads
 of a gang of self-seeking
 poets and rogues,
all the hundred volumes
 of my 
 communist-committed books.


Transcribed: by Mitch Abidor.



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