Andrei Voznesensky – Beaver’s Lament
Rising on hind legs, wrinkling his brow
(they have scaly flat tails), he gushed forth,
mustachiod naiad of the north.
“Come on,” I said, “now let me pass!”
(They have a way, the whining beasts:
As soon as you approach their lodge,
they confront the bulldozer
and start to sob
till the driver takes pity and runs away.
An entire family comes forth, with clasped paws,
shielding their roof from destruction:
“Against your power
we have tears–
our whine to match your engine’s whine.”)
Tears in the eyes of this aging child
stand in my way. What do you think you are?
Some old broken village pump?
Come on, please, let me pass.
Did he sob for the water that seeped away?
Or for something else he wished to save?
Did he sob to avenge his wasted land?
His tears were clearly in my way.
Why were my knees then giving way?
They have never given way so far–
not for widows weeping on the phone,
nor for the mad tears of an aging czar.
Beavers, be with me in beastly places
in coming years,
be brave, be sound,
and reproachful beavers,
Be beavers, beavers who stand your ground.
Let no one pass–block every step.
Let no one pass–cut off the road.
Let no one encroach upon these tears.
Let them be inviolable, O Lord….
I cursed the beast. I beat him with my stick,
turned back from him in a fit of rage,
but behind me another beaver sprang up weeping–
another impassable barrier of tears.
translated by William Jay Smith and Vera Dunham
Date: November 13, 2013
Categories: Andrei Voznesensky