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by Andrei Voznesensky |


  My life, like a rocket, makes a parabola 
 flying in darkness, -- no rainbow for traveler. 

 There once lived an artist, red-haired Gauguin, 
 he was a bohemian, a former tradesman. 
 To get to the Louvre 
 from the lanes of Montmartre 
 he circled around 
 as far as Sumatra! 

 He had to abandon the madness of money, 
 the filth of the scholars, the snarl of his honey. 
 The man overcame the terrestrial gravity, 
 The priests, drinking beer, would laugh at his "vanity": 
 "A straight line is short, but it is much too simple, 
 He'd better depict beds of roses for people." 

 And yet, like a rocket, he flew off with ease 
 through winds penetrating his coat and his ears. 
 He didn't fetch up to the Louvre through the door 
 but, like a parabola, 
 pierced the floor! 

 Each gets to the truth with his own parameter 
 a worm finds a crack, man makes a parabola. 

 There once lived a girl in the neighboring house. 
 We studied together, through books we would browse. 
 Why did I leave, 
 moved by devilish powers 
 amidst the equivocal 
 Georgian stars! 

 I'm sorry for making that silly parabola, 
 The shivering shoulders in darkness, why trouble her?... 
 Your rings in the dark Universe were dramatic, 
 and like an antenna, straight and elastic. 

 Meanwhile I'm flying 
 to land here because 
 I hear your earthly and shivering calls. 

 It doesn't come easy with a parabola!.. 
 For wiping prediction, tradition, preamble off 
 Art, History, Love and ?esthetics 
 to take parabolical paths, as it were! 

 He leaves for Siberia now, on a visit. 

It isn't so long as parabola, is it? 

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky |


 I hate you, rubber souls, you seem 
 to stretch to fit any regime. 

 They'll give a yawning smile, stretched wide, 
 and, like an octopus, they'll draw you tight. 

 A rubber man is an elusive rogue: 
 a fist gets sucked into the bog. 

 The rubber editor is scared of script, 
 the author is bogged down in it. 

 A rubber office I used to know 
 where "yes" was stretched to courteous "no". 
 I pity you, elastic crank, 
 as if erased, your past is blank. 

 You have erased many a passion, many a thought, 
 but you were happy and excited, were you not?... 

 Above the waist you are a cowardly man, 
 an ace of spade, and an unlucky one... 

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky |


 My doc announced yesterday : 
 "You may have talent, though it's hidden, 
 your beak, however, is frost-bitten, 
 so stick at home on a cold day". 

 The nose, eh? 

 As irretrievable as time, 
 conforming to the laws of medicine, 
 your nose, like that of any person, 
 keep growing 
 with triumph! 

 The noses of celebrities, 
 of guards 
 and ministers of ours 
 grow, snoring restlessly like owls 
 at night, along with plants and trees. 

 They're cool and crooked, resembling bills, 
 they're squeezed in doors, 
 get hurt by boxers, 
 however, our neighbour's noses 
 screw into keyholes, just like drills! 

 (Great Gogol felt by intuition 
 the role they play in man's ambition.) 
 My friend Bukashkin who was boozy 
 dreamed of a nose 
 that grew like crazy: 
 above him, coming like a bore, 
 upsetting pans and chandeliers, 
 a nose 
 was piercing 
 the ceilings 
 and threading 
 floor upon the floor! 

 "What's that? -- he thought, when out of bed. 
 "A sign of Judgement Day -- I said -- 
 And the inspection of the debtors!" 

 He was imprisoned on the 30th. 

 Perpetual motion of the nose! 
 It's long, while life is getting shorter. 
 At night on faces, pale as blotter, 
 like a black hawk, or pumping hose, 
 the nose absorbs us, I suppose. 

 They say, the Northern Eskimos 
 kiss one another with the nose 

 It hasn't caught on here, of course.

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky |


 A poet can't be in disfavour, 
 he needs no awards, no fame. 
 A star has no setting whatever, 
 no black nor a golden frame. 

 A star can't be killed with a stone, or 
 award, or that kind of stuff. 
 He'll bear the blow of a fawner 
 lamenting he's not big enough. 

 What matters is music and fervour, 
 not fame, nor abuse, anyway. 
 World powers are out of favour 
 when poets turn them away. 

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky |


  In my land and yours they do hit the hay 
 and sleep the whole night in a similar way. 

 There's the golden Moon with a double shine. 
 It lightens your land and it lightens mine. 

 At the same low price, that is for free, 
 there's the sunrise for you and the sunset for me. 

 The wind is cool at the break of day, 
 it's neither your fault nor mine, anyway. 

 Behind your lies and behind my lies 
 there is pain and love for our Motherlands. 

 I wish in your land and mine some day 
 we'd put all idiots out of the way. 

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky |


 I started up the engine and I lingered. 
 Where should I go? The night was fine, I figured. 
 The bonnet trembled like a nervous hound. 
 I shivered. Night lit up the houses around. 
 The Balzac age, I felt its burning pain, 
 Chilled to the bone, I couldn't hold my own. 
 The age of balsam wine mixed with champaign!.. 

 So I looked up, and wound the window down. 

 They were young, two pretty-pretty fellows, 
 wearing fur coats, looking slightly careless. 
 "You're free, Miss, aren't you ? Care for delight? 
 Five hundred now. One thousand for the night". 

 I flared up. They took me for a prostitute. 
 My heart was jumping. What an attitude! 
 They want you, you're young, you're a whore! 
 Indignant, I said "Yes", instead of "No". 

 The other one, so "sweet and pure", 
 swaying his hips, looking aside, 
 said: "Have you got a friend, as rich as you are? 
 I, too, will take it. A thousand for the night". 

 The brutes! I thought I'd better vanish! 
 I stepped upon the gas and left the site. 
 My heart, however, jumped for joy and anguish! 
 "Five hundred now. One thousand for the night".

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky |


 Sailor, my dear, my heaven-made spouse! 
 There is one thing that I beg of you, man: 
 Kiss any strangers, and give them your flowers, 
 love many women. But, pray, don't love one. 

 These are the words that I send with my letter, 
 piercing land after land they will moan; 
 stay there as long as you wish, and you'd better 
 love all the countries, but, pray, don't love one. 

 Give me a whistle -- when tired of roving. 
 Held in sweet bondage, or about to drown, 
 play with your life as you wish, when you're roaming, 
 but don't ruin ours because it is one.

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky |


 I'm waiting for my friend. The gate's unlocked. 
 The banisters are lit so he can walk. 

 I'm waiting for my friend. The times are dull and tough. 
 Anticipation lightens our life. 

 He's driving down the Ring Road, at full speed, 
 the way I did it when he was in need. 

 He will arrive to find the spot at once, 
 the pine is lit well in advance. 

 There is a dog. His eyes are phosphorescent. 
 Are you a friend? I see you're not complacent... 

 Some headlights push the darkness off the drive. 
 My friend is to arrive. 

 He said that he would come at nine or so. 
 People are watching a TV show. 

 Should animosity drop in I'll turn it out, -- 
 I'll wait around. 

 Months, years go by, but Herman's not in sight. 
 The whole of nature is cut off from light. 

 I'll see my friend in hell, or paradise, alive. 
 I have been waiting for him all my life. 

 He said he'd come at nine or so today. 
 God save him while he's on his way. 

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky |


 There is Bukashkin, our neighbor, 
 in underpants of blotting paper, 
 and, like balloons, the Antiworlds 
 hang up above him in the vaults. 

 Up there, like a magic daemon, 
 he smartly rules the Universe, 
 Antibukashkin lies there giving 
 Lollobrigida a caress. 

 The Anti-great-academician 
 has got a blotting paper vision. 

 Long live creative Antiworlds, 
 great fantasy amidst daft words! 
 There are wise men and stupid peasants, 
 there are no trees without deserts. 

 There're Antimen and Antilorries, 
 Antimachines in woods and forests. 
 There's salt of earth, and there's a fake. 
 A falcon dies without a snake. 

 I like my dear critics best. 
 The greatest of them beats the rest 
 for on his shoulders there's no head, 
 he's got an Antihead instead. 

 At night I sleep with windows open 
 and hear the rings of falling stars, 
 From up above skyscrapers drop and, 
 like stalactites, look down on us. 

 High up above me upside down, 
 stuck like a fork into the ground, 
 my nice light-hearted butterfly, 
 my Antiworld, is getting by. 

 I wonder if it's wrong or right 
 that Antiworlds should date at night. 
 Why should they sit there side by side 
 watching TV all through the night? 
 They do not understand a word. 
 It's their last date in this world. 
 They sit and chat for hours, and 
 they will regret it in the end! 
 The two have burning ears and eyes, 
 resembling purple butterflies... 

 ...A lecturer once said to me: 
 "An Antiworld? It's loonacy!" 

 I'm half asleep, and I would sooner 
 believe than doubt the man's word... 
 My green-eyed kitty, like a tuner, 
 receives the signals of the world. 

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky |


 Red cows 
 on the asphalt road have settled. 
 Lazing on the asphalt pan they lie. 
 We drive them round 
 for cows are sacred! 
 They are loyal to the highway, 
 we wonder why. 

 "Old herdsman, we want our question answered: 
 Why have the cows gone mad?" "God forbid! 
 The point is that flies do not like asphalt." 
 Those modern cows! The are wise indeed! 

 They got it, the sly ones! Cattle of genius! 
 Unlike the poor, unfortunate flies. 
 "The flies know that asphalt 
 is carcinogenic." 
 Those modern flies! They are really wise! 

© Copyright Alec Vagapov's translation