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by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

Past One O’Clock ...

 Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed.
The Milky Way streams silver through the night. 
I’m in no hurry; with lightning telegrams
I have no cause to wake or trouble you. 
And, as they say, the incident is closed.
Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind. 
Now you and I are quits. Why bother then
To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts. 
Behold what quiet settles on the world. 
Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars.
In hours like these, one rises to address 
The ages, history, and all creation.


Transcribed: by Mitch Abidor.


by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

To All and Everything

 No.
It can’t be.
No!
You too, beloved?
Why? What for?
Darling, look -
I came,
I brought flowers,
but, but... I never took
silver spoons from your drawer!

Ashen-faced,
I staggered down five flights of stairs.
The street eddied round me. Blasts. Blares.
Tires screeched.
It was gusty.
The wind stung my cheeks.
Horn mounted horn lustfully.

Above the capital’s madness
I raised my face,
stern as the faces of ancient icons.
Sorrow-rent,
on your body as on a death-bed, its days
my heart ended.

You did not sully your hands with brute murder.
Instead,
you let drop calmly:
“He’s in bed.
There’s fruit and wine
On the bedstand’s palm.”

Love!
You only existed in my inflamed brain.
Enough!
Stop this foolish comedy
and take notice:
I’m ripping off
my toy armour,
I,
the greatest of all Don Quixotes!

Remember?
Weighed down by the cross,
Christ stopped for a moment,
weary.
Watching him, the mob
yelled, jeering:
“Get movin’, you clod!”

That’s right!
Be spiteful.
Spit upon him who begs for a rest
on his day of days,
harry and curse him.
To the army of zealots, doomed to do good,
man shows no mercy!

That does it!

I swear by my pagan strength -
gimme a girl,
young,
eye-filling,
and I won’t waste my feelings on her.
I'll rape her
and spear her heart with a gibe
willingly.

An eye for an eye!

A thousand times over reap of revenge the crops'
Never stop!
Petrify, stun,
howl into every ear:
“The earth is a convict, hear,
his head half shaved by the sun!”

An eye for an eye!

Kill me,
bury me -
I’ll dig myself out,
the knives of my teeth by stone — no wonder!-
made sharper,
A snarling dog, under
the plank-beds of barracks I’ll crawl,
sneaking out to bite feet that smell
of sweat and of market stalls!

You'll leap from bed in the night’s early hours.
“Moo!” I’ll roar.
Over my neck,
a yoke-savaged sore,
tornados of flies
will rise.
I'm a white bull over the earth towering!

Into an elk I’ll turn,
my horns-branches entangled in wires,
my eyes red with blood.
Above the world,
a beast brought to bay,
I'll stand tirelessly.

Man can’t escape!
Filthy and humble,
a prayer mumbling,
on cold stone he lies.
What I’ll do is paint
on the royal gates,
over God’s own
the face of Razin.

Dry up, rivers, stop him from quenching his thirst! Scorn him!
Don’t waste your rays, sun! Glare!
Let thousands of my disciples be born
to trumpet anathemas on the squares!
And when at last there comes,
stepping onto the peaks of the ages,
chillingly,
the last of their days,
in the black souls of anarchists and killers
I, a gory vision, will blaze!

It’s dawning,
The sky’s mouth stretches out more and more,
it drinks up the night
sip by sip, thirstily.
The windows send off a glow.
Through the panes heat pours.
The sun, viscous, streams down onto the sleeping city.

O sacred vengeance!
Lead me again
above the dust without
and up the steps of my poetic lines.
This heart of mine,
full to the brim,
in a confession
I will pour out.

Men of the future!
Who are you?
I must know. Please!
Here am I,
all bruises and aches,
pain-scorched...
To you of my great soul I bequeath
the orchard.


by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

Our March

 Beat the squares with the tramp of rebels!
Higher, rangers of haughty heads!
We'll wash the world with a second deluge, 
Now’s the hour whose coming it dreads.
Too slow, the wagon of years,
The oxen of days — too glum.
Our god is the god of speed,
Our heart — our battle drum.
Is there a gold diviner than ours/
What wasp of a bullet us can sting?
Songs are our weapons, our power of powers,
Our gold — our voices — just hear us sing!
Meadow, lie green on the earth!
With silk our days for us line!
Rainbow, give color and girth
To the fleet-foot steeds of time.
The heavens grudge us their starry glamour.
Bah! Without it our songs can thrive.
Hey there, Ursus Major, clamour
For us to be taken to heaven alive!
Sing, of delight drink deep,
Drain spring by cups, not by thimbles.
Heart step up your beat!
Our breasts be the brass of cymbals.


by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

Call To Account!

 The drum of war thunders and thunders.
It calls: thrust iron into the living.
From every country
slave after slave
are thrown onto bayonet steel.
For the sake of what?
The earth shivers
hungry
and stripped.
Mankind is vapourised in a blood bath
only so 
someone
somewhere
can get hold of Albania.
Human gangs bound in malice,
blow after blow strikes the world
only for 
someone’s vessels 
to pass without charge 
through the Bosporus. 
Soon 
the world 
won’t have a rib intact.
And its soul will be pulled out.
And trampled down
only for someone,
to lay 
their hands on
Mesopotamia.
Why does
a boot 
crush the Earth — fissured and rough?
What is above the battles’ sky -
Freedom?
God?
Money!
When will you stand to your full height,
you,
giving them your life?
When will you hurl a question to their faces:
Why are we fighting?


Translated: by Lika Galkina with Jasper Goss, 2005.


by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

Attitude To A Miss

 That night was to decide
if she and I
were to be lovers.
Under cover
of darkness
no one would see, you see.
I bent over her, it’s the truth,
and as I did,
it’s the truth, I swear it,
I said
like a kindly parent:
“Passion’s a precipice – 
so won’t you please
move away?
Move away,
please!”


by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

Back Home

 Thoughts, go your way home.
Embrace,
 depths of the soul and the sea.
In my view,
 it is
 stupid
to be
 always serene.
My cabin is the worst
 of all cabins - 
All night above me
 Thuds a smithy of feet.
All night,
 stirring the ceiling’s calm,
dancers stampede
 to a moaning motif:
“Marquita,
 Marquita,
Marquita my darling,
why won’t you,
 Marquita,
why won’t you love me …”
But why
 Should marquita love me?!
I have
 no francs to spare.
And Marquita
 (at the slightest wink!)
for a hundred francs
 she’d be brought to your room.
The sum’s not large - 
 just live for show - 
No,
 you highbrow,
 ruffling your matted hair,
you would thrust upon her
 a sewing machine,
in stitches
 scribbling 
 the silk of verse.
Proletarians
 arrive at communism
 from below - 
by the low way of mines,
 sickles,
 and pitchforks - 
But I,
 from poetry’s skies,
 plunge into communism,
because
 without it
 I feel no love.
Whether
 I’m self-exiled
 or sent to mamma - 
the steel of words corrodes,
 the brass of the brass tarnishes.
Why,
 beneath foreign rains,
must I soak,
 rot,
 and rust?
Here I recline,
 having gone oversea,
in my idleness
 barely moving
 my machine parts.
I myself
 feel like a Soviet
 factory,
manufacturing happiness.
I object
 to being torn up,
like a flower of the fields,
 after a long day’s work.
I want
 the Gosplan to sweat
 in debate,
assignning me
 goals a year ahead.
I want
 a commissar
 with a decree
to lean over the thought of the age.
I want
 the heart to earn
its love wage
 at a specialist’s rate.
I want
 the factory committee
 to lock
My lips
 when the work is done.
I want
 the pen to be on a par
 with the bayonet;
and Stalin
 to deliver his Politbureau
reports
 about verse in the making
as he would about pig iron
 and the smelting of steel.
“That’s how it is,
 the way it goes …
 We’ve attained
the topmost level,
 climbing from the workers’ bunks:
in the Union
 of Republics
 the understanding of verse
now tops
 the prewar norm …”


Transcribed: by Mitch Abidor.


by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

Conversation with Comrade Lenin

 Awhirl with events,
 packed with jobs one too many,
the day slowly sinks
 as the night shadows fall.
There are two in the room:
 I
 and Lenin-
a photograph
 on the whiteness of wall.

The stubble slides upward
 above his lip
as his mouth
 jerks open in speech.
 The tense
creases of brow
 hold thought
 in their grip,
immense brow
 matched by thought immense.
A forest of flags,
 raised-up hands thick as grass...
Thousands are marching
 beneath him...
 Transported,
alight with joy,
 I rise from my place,
eager to see him,
 hail him,
 report to him!
“Comrade Lenin,
 I report to you -
(not a dictate of office,
 the heart’s prompting alone)

This hellish work
 that we’re out to do

will be done
 and is already being done.
We feed and we clothe
 and give light to the needy,

the quotas
 for coal
 and for iron
 fulfill,
but there is
 any amount
 of bleeding
muck
 and rubbish
 around us still.

Without you,
 there’s many
 have got out of hand,

all the sparring
 and squabbling
 does one in.
There’s scum
 in plenty
 hounding our land,

outside the borders
 and also
 within.

Try to
 count ’em
 and
 tab ’em - 
 it’s no go,

there’s all kinds,
 and they’re
 thick as nettles:
kulaks,
 red tapists,
 and,
 down the row,
drunkards,
 sectarians,
 lickspittles.
They strut around
 proudly
 as peacocks,
badges and fountain pens
 studding their chests.
We’ll lick the lot of ’em-
 but
 to lick ’em
is no easy job
 at the very best.
On snow-covered lands
 and on stubbly fields,
in smoky plants
 and on factory sites,
with you in our hearts,
 Comrade Lenin,
 we build,
we think,
 we breathe,
 we live,
 and we fight!”
Awhirl with events,
 packed with jobs one too many,
the day slowly sinks
 as the night shadows fall.
There are two in the room:
 I
 and Lenin - 
a photograph
 on the whiteness of wall.


by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

My Soviet Passport

 I'd tear
 like a wolf
 at bureaucracy.
For mandates
 my respect's but the slightest.
To the devil himself
 I'd chuck without mercy
every red-taped paper.
 But this ...
Down the long front
 of coupés and cabins
File the officials
 politely.
They gather up passports
 and I give in
My own vermilion booklet.
For one kind of passport -
smiling lips part
For others -
 an attitude scornful.
They take
 with respect, for instance,
 the passport
From a sleeping-car
English Lionel.
The good fellows eyes
 almost slip like pips
when,
 bowing as low as men can,
they take,
 as if they were taking a tip,
the passport
 from an American.
At the Polish,
 they dolefully blink and wheeze
in dumb
 police elephantism -
where are they from,
 and what are these
geographical novelties?
And without a turn
 of their cabbage heads,
their feelings
 hidden in lower regions,
they take without blinking,
 the passports from Swedes
and various
 old Norwegians.
Then sudden
 as if their mouths were
 aquake
those gentlemen almost
 whine
Those very official gentlemen
 take
that red-skinned passport
 of mine.
Take-
 like a bomb
 take - like a hedgehog,
like a razor
 double-edge stropped,
take -
 like a rattlesnake huge and long
with at least
 20 fangs
 poison-tipped.
The porter's eyes
 give a significant flick
(I'll carry your baggage
 for nix,
 mon ami...)
The gendarmes enquiringly
 look at the tec,
the tec, -
 at the gendarmerie.
With what delight
 that gendarme caste
would have me
 strung-up and whipped raw
because I hold
 in my hands
 hammered-fast
sickle-clasped
 my red Soviet passport.
I'd tear
 like a wolf
 at bureaucracy.
For mandates
 my respect's but the slightest.
To the devil himself
 I'd chuck
 without mercy
every red-taped paper,
 But this ...
I pull out
 of my wide trouser-pockets
duplicate
of a priceless cargo.
 You now:
read this
 and envy,
 I'm a citizen
of the Soviet Socialist Union!


Transcribed: by Liviu Iacob.


by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

At the Top of My voice

 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.


by Vladimir Mayakovsky |

A Cloud in Trousers

epilogue: 
Your thoughts, 
dreaming on a softened brain, 
like an over-fed lackey on a greasy settee, 
with my heart's bloody tatters I'll mock again; 
impudent and caustic, I'll jeer to superfluity. 

Of Grandfatherly gentleness I'm devoid, 
there's not a single grey hair in my soul! 
Thundering the world with the might of my voice, 
I go by -- handsome, 
twenty-two-year-old. 

Gentle ones! 
You lay your love on a violin. 
The crude lay their love on a drum. 
but you can't, like me, turn inside out entirely, 
and nothing but human lips become! 

Out of chintz-covered drawing-rooms, come 
and learn- 
decorous bureaucrats of angelic leagues. 

and you whose lips are calmly thumbed, 
as a cook turns over cookery-book leaves. 

If you like- 
I'll be furiously flesh elemental, 
or - changing to tones that the sunset arouses - 
if you like- 
I'll be extraordinary gentle, 
not a man, but - a cloud in trousers! 

1 


You think malaria makes me delirious? 

It happened. 
In Odessa it happened. 

¡°I¡¯ll come at four,¡± Maria promised. 

Eight. 
Nine. 
Ten. 

Then the evening 
turned its back on the windows 
and plunged into grim night, 
scowling 
Decemberish. 

At my decrepit back 
the candelabras guffawed and whinnied. 

You would not recognise me now: 
a bulging bulk of sinews, 
groaning, 
and writhing, 
What can such a clod desire? 
Though a clod, many things! 

The self does not care 
whether one is cast of bronze 
or the heart has an iron lining. 
At night the self only desires 
to steep its clangour in softness, 
in woman. 

And thus, 
enormous, 
I stood hunched by the window, 
and my brow melted the glass. 
What will it be: love or no-love? 
And what kind of love: 
big or minute? 
How could a body like this have a big love? 
It should be teeny-weeny, 
humble, little love; 
a love that shies at the hooting of cars, 
that adores the bells of horse-trams. 

Again and again 
nuzzling against the rain, 
my face pressed against its pitted face, 
I wait, 
splashed by the city¡¯s thundering surf. 

Then midnight, amok with a knife, 
caught up, 
cut him down ¨C 
out with him! 

The stroke of twelve fell 
like a head from a block. 

On the windowpanes, grey raindrops 
howled together, 
piling on a grimace 
as though the gargoyles 
of Notre Dame were howling. 

Damn you! 
Isn¡¯t that enough? 
Screams will soon claw my mouth apart. 

Then I heard, 
softly, 
a nerve leap 
like a sick man from his bed. 
Then, 
barely moving, 
at first, 
it soon scampered about, 
agitated, 
distinct. 
Now, with a couple more, 
it darted about in a desperate dance. 

The plaster on the ground floor crashed. 

Nerves, 
big nerves, 
tiny nerves, 
many nerves! ¨C 
galloped madly 
till soon 
their legs gave way. 

But night oozed and oozed through the room ¨C 
and the eye, weighed down, could not slither out of 
the slime. 

The doors suddenly banged ta-ra-bang, 
as though the hotel¡¯s teeth 
chattered. 

You swept in abruptly 
like ¡°take it or leave it!¡± 
Mauling your suede gloves, 
you declared: 
¡°D¡¯you know, 
I¡¯m getting married.¡± 

All right, marry then. 
So what, 
I can take it. 
As you see, I¡¯m calm! 
Like the pulse 
of a corpse. 

Do you remember 
how you used to talk? 
¡°Jack London, 
money, 
love, 
passion.¡± 
But I saw one thing only: 
you, a Gioconda, 
had to be stolen! 

And you were stolen. 

In love, I shall gamble again, 
the arch of my brows ablaze. 
What of it! 
Homeless tramps often find 
shelter in a burnt-out house! 

You¡¯re teasing me now? 
¡°You have fewer emeralds of madness 
than a beggar has kopeks!¡± 
But remember! 
When they teased Vesuvius, 
Pompeii perished! 

Hey! 
Gentlemen! 
Amateurs 
of sacrilege, 
crime, 
and carnage, 
have you seen 
the terror of terrors ¨C 
my face 
when 
I 
am absolutely calm? 

I feel 
my ¡°I¡± 
is much too small for me. 
Stubbornly a body pushes out of me. 

Hello! 
Who¡¯s speaking? 
Mamma? 
Mamma! 
Your son is gloriously ill! 
Mamma! 
His heart is on fire. 
Tell his sisters, Lyuda and Olya, 
he has no nook to hide in. 

Each word, 
each joke, 
which his scorching mouth spews, 
jumps like a naked prostitute 
from a burning brothel. 

People sniff 
the smell of burnt flesh! 
A brigade of men drive up. 
A glittering brigade. 
In bright helmets. 
But no jackboots here! 
Tell the firemen 
to climb lovingly when a heart¡¯s on fire. 
Leave it to me. 
I¡¯ll pump barrels of tears from my eyes. 
I¡¯ll brace myself against my ribs. 
I¡¯ll leap out! Out! Out! 
They¡¯ve collapsed. 
You can¡¯t leap out of a heart! 

From the cracks of the lips 
upon a smouldering face 
a cinder of a kiss rises to leap. 

Mamma! 
I cannot sing. 
In the heart¡¯s chapel the choir loft catches fire! 

The scorched figurines of words and numbers 
scurry from the skull 
like children from a flaming building. 
Thus fear, 
in its effort to grasp at the sky, 
lifted high 
the flaming arms of the Lusitania. 

Into the calm of the apartment 
where people quake, 
a hundred-eye blaze bursts from the docks. 
Moan 
into the centuries, 
if you can, a last scream: I¡¯m on fire! 


2 


Glorify me! 
For me the great are no match. 
Upon every achievement 
I stamp nihil 

I never want 
to read anything. 
Books? 
What are books! 

Formerly I believed 
books were made like this: 
a poet came, 
lightly opened his lips, 
and the inspired fool burst into song ¨C 
if you please! 
But it seems, 
before they can launch into a song, 
poets must tramp for days with callused feet, 
and the sluggish fish of the imagination 
flounders softly in the slush of the heart. 
And while, with twittering rhymes, they boil a broth 
of loves and nightingales, 
the tongueless street merely writhes 
for lack of something to shout or say. 

In our pride, we raise up again 
the cities¡¯ towers of Babel, 
but god, 
confusing tongues, 
grinds 
cities to pasture. 

In silence the street pushed torment. 
A shout stood erect in the gullet. 
Wedged in the throat, 
bulging taxis and bony cabs bristled. 
Pedestrians have trodden my chest 
flatter than consumption. 

The city has locked the road in gloom. 

But when ¨C 
nevertheless! ¨C 
the street coughed up the crush on the square, 
pushing away the portico that was treading on its throat, 
it looked as if: 
in choirs of an archangel¡¯s chorale, 
god, who has been plundered, was advancing in 
wrath! 

But the street, squatting down, bawled: 
¡°Let¡¯s go and guzzle!¡± 

Krupps and Krupplets1 paint 
a bristling of menacing brows on the city, 
but in the mouth 
corpselets of dead words putrefy; 
and only two thrive and grow fat: 
¡°swine,¡± 
and another besides, 
apparently ¨C ¡°borsch.¡± 

Poets, 
soaked in plaints and sobs, 
break from the street, rumpling their matted hair 
over: ¡°How with two such words celebrate 
a young lady 
and love 
and a floweret under the dew?¡± 

In the poets¡¯ wake 
thousands of street folk: 
students, 
prostitutes, 
salesmen. 

Gentlemen! 
Stop! 

thousands of street folk: 
students, 
prostitutes, 
salesmen. 

Gentlemen! 
Stop! 
You are no beggars; 
how dare you beg for alms! 

We in our vigour, 
whose stride measures yards, 
must not listen, but tear them apart ¨C 
them, 
glued like a special supplement 
to each double bed! 

Are we to ask them humbly: 
¡°Assist me!¡± 
Implore for a hymn 
or an oratorio! 
We ourselves are creators within a burning hymn ¨C 
the hum of mills and laboratories. 

What is Faust to me, 
in a fairy splash of rockets 
gliding with Mephistopheles on the celestial parquet! 
I know ¨C 
a nail in my boot 
is more nightmarish than Goethe¡¯s fantasy! 

I, 
the most golden-mouthed, 
whose every word 
gives a new birthday to the soul, 
gives a name-day to the body, 
I adjure you: 
the minutest living speck 
is worth more than what I¡¯ll do or did! 

Listen! 
It is today¡¯s brazen-lipped Zarathustra 
who preaches, 
dashing about and groaning! 
We, 
our face like a crumpled sheet, 
our lips pendulant like a chandelier; 
we, 
the convicts of the City Leprous, 
where gold and filth spawned leper¡¯s sores, 
we are purer than the azure of Venice, 
washed by both the sea and the sun! 

I spit on the fact 
that neither Homer nor Ovid 
invented characters like us, 
pock-marked with soot. 
I know 
the sun would dim, on seeing 
the gold fields of our souls! 

Sinews and muscles are surer than prayers. 
Must we implore the charity of the times! 
We ¨C 
each one of us ¨C 
hold in our fists 
the driving belts of the worlds! 

This led to my Golgothas in the halls 
of Petrograd, Moscow, Odessa, and Kiev, 
where not a man 
but 
shouted: 
¡°Crucify, 
crucify him!¡± 
But for me ¨C 
all of you people, 
even those that harmed me ¨C 
you are dearer, more precious than anything. 

Have you seen 
a dog lick the hand that thrashed it?! 

I, 
mocked by my contemporaries 
like a prolonged 
dirty joke, 
I perceive whom no one sees, 
crossing the mountains of time. 

Where men¡¯s eyes stop short, 
there, at the head of hungry hordes, 
the year 1916 cometh 
in the thorny crown of revolutions. 

In your midst, his precursor, 
I am where pain is ¨C everywhere; 
on each drop of the tear-flow 
I have nailed myself on the cross. 
Nothing is left to forgive. 
I¡¯ve cauterised the souls where tenderness was bred. 
It was harder than taking 
a thousand thousand Bastilles! 

And when, 
the rebellion 
his advent announcing, 
you step to meet the saviour ¨C 
then I 
shall root up my soul; 
I¡¯ll trample it hard 
till it spread 
in blood; and I offer you this as a banner.