An Ode to the Bath-House (by Vladimir Vysotsky)
ODE TO THE BATH-HOUSE
God, bestow on us your salvation,
God, your blessing bestow on us,
When we, dirty, begin the lavation,
Washing spirit and flesh in the bath!
Mother-water’s renascent, reviving,
Healing ugliness, sickness and sores.
Here you feel how nature is thriving,
Here you feel that the birthright restores!
Sins and faults, in your soul embedded,
Any nuisance which grinds you or bores,
By hot steam that’s been lavishly added,
Are knocked out of you through your pores!
All your torments are evaporated
And dissolve in the sky to your mirth;
Being freed from your vices and hatred,
You can start a new life on the earth!
It’s not washing – it’s purification!
Don’t you rush outside, take your time!
Give your soul some hard perspiration,
Steam away all its mire and slime!
Naked bodies – defects are not hidden.
Never mind! You’ll be cleansed and renewed!
In the bath-house just like in Eden:
Only those can stay, who are nude!
Rid of pride when the pants you are stripping,
Rid of vanity, being undressed,
Since a besom is equally whipping
Any legs, any back, any breast!
How one is exactly like others
In a sauna you can esteem;
All are free in the bath, all are brothers
And the parity rules in the steam!
Through the bath-house pass generations,
Through the water, that’s holy and prized,
Through affection, through mercy and patience
We, barbarians, must be baptized!
Translated by George Tokarev
© GEORGE TOKAREV 2003