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To the Prologue To Part II
The Backbone Flute by Vladimir Mayakovsky translated from the Russian by Andrey Kneller I. I crumble miles of streets with extended strides. Bearing this hell, where can I stray thus?! What heavenly Hoffman alone at night Thought of your likeness, accursed and heinous?! The streets are too narrow for the joyful storm. Dressed up, the people disperse, enthralled. I ponder. Like blood clots, sticky and warm, My thoughts are slithering out of my skull. I, The creator of all that's festive and mirthful, Always go to the feast on my own, all alone. Watch me now as I jump down, doleful, And splatter my head on the Nevsky stones! I blasphemed, I swore and denied God's existence, But God pulled such a woman out of the infernal bowel, That the mountains trembled seeing her in the distance. He brought her to me and commanded: Love her! God is content. On a crag, under the sky A lonesome man turns wild, grows thinner. God watches him die. God is thinking: You, watch out Vladimir! It was He! it was He, from the onset,- So no one would know who you were- It was He, who decided to give you a husband And placed human notes on the piano board. If I could tiptoe pass the bedroom door And make the sign of the cross over your bed, It would smell of smoldering wool,-- I know,-- And the fumes of the devil would rise overhead. Instead, until morning, frenzied and nervous, Thinking that you ran away with a lover, I rushed all around, Engraving my cries into verses Like some madman, - a crazed diamond-cutter. Oh, to play some cards! To dip in the wine The sighed-out heart, and to let it soak! I don't need you! I don't! And besides, in some time, I know I will surely croak. If you do exist, Goodness, My Savior, If it's You who have woven the carpet of stars, If this pain, That's increasing daily, Is an ordeal that You've sent down to us, Then wear the chain of a judge, I pray. Believe me, I will shortly visit you. I am punctual And will not delay for a day. Listen, All-highest inquisitor! I'll shut my mouth. Not a single wail Will escape my hard-bitten lips. Bind me to comets as to horses' tails, And gallop me, Tearing my flesh at the stars' bits. Or When the soul drops the body, decides to leave it, And comes to your judgment, Dully flinching, Then, Over the Milky Way put up the gibbet, And like a criminal, seize me and lynch me. Do what You will, Quarter me! and let me remain thus. I myself will wash Your hands clean! I allow it. Only do this for me- Take away that heinous, Whom You've made my only beloved! I crumble miles of streets with extended strides. Bearing this hell, where can I stray thus?! What heavenly Hoffman alone at night Thought of your likeness, accursed and heinous?!
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