At the Top of My Voice
First Prelude to the Poem
My most respected comrades of posterity!
Rummaging among these days' petrified crap
exploring the twilight of our times,
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 time and myself.
I. a latrine cleaner and water carrier,
by the revolution mobilised and drafted,
went off to the front from the aristocratic gardens
of poetry-- the capricious wench.
She planted a delicious garden,
Myself a garden I did plant,
myself with water sprinkled it.
Some pour their verse from water cans;
other spit water from their mouth--
the curly Macks, the clever Jacks--
but what the hell's it all about!
There's no damming all this up--
beneath the walls hey mandoline:
It's no great honour, then, for my monuments
to rise from such roses
above public squares,
where consumption coughs,
where whores, hooligans, and syphilis walk.
my teeth too,
and I'd rather
more profit in it
on the throat
my own song.
Listen, comrades of prosperity,
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 labour will break the mountain chain of years,
and will present itself
as an aqueduct,
slaves of Rome
into our days.
And Could You?
I suddenly smeared the weekday map
splashing paint from a glass;
On a plate of aspic
the ocean's slanted cheek.
On the scales of a tin fish
I read the summons of new lips.
could you perform
a nocturne on a drainpipe flute?
From Street to Street
steal the first cubes
jumping from the windows
of fleeting houses.
bend in electric-wire nooses!
The giraffe-hide sky unlooses
motley carrot-top bangs.
of patternless fields
is dappled like trout.
Concealed by clocktower faces,
rails from the muzzle of a tram.
We are enslaved!
the soul's bodice.
Cry all you may:
"I didn't want it!" -
From the chimney
a whipping wind tears
a gray tuft of wool.
A balding lamppost
lustfully strips off
The Fop's Blouse
I will sew myself black trousers
from the velvet of my voice.
And from three yards of sunset, a yellow blouse.
Along the world's main street, along its glossy lanes,
I will saunter with the gait of Don Juan, a fop.
Let the earth, overripe and placid, cry out:
"You would rape the green Spring!"
I'll yell at the sun with an impudent grin
"I prefer to prance on smooth
Isn't it because the sky is blue,
And the earth is my lover in this spring
that I give you verses fun as bi-bah-boh
and sharp and useful as toothpicks!
Women who love my flesh, and you,
girl, looking at me like a brother,
toss your smiles to me, the poet -
and I'll sew them like flowers onto my fop's blouse!
An Extraordinary Adventure
AN EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURE WHICH HAPPENED TO ME, VLADIMIR MAYAKOVSKY, ONE SUMMER
IN THE COUNTRY
(Pushkino, Mount Akula, Rumyantsev Cottage, 20 miles down the Yaroslav
A hundred suns the sunset fired,
into July summer shunted,
it was so hot,
even heat perspired-
it happened in the country.
The little hamlet known as Pushkino,
Below, the village
seemed pushed-in so --
its crooked roof-crusts cracked.
And beyond that village
yawned a hole,
into that hole- and not just maybe -
the sun for certain always rolled,
slowly, surely, daily.
to flood the world
the sun rose up-
and ruddied it.
Day after day
it happened this way,
till I got
fed up with it.
And one day I let out such a shout,
that everything grew pale,
point-blank at the sun I yelled:
Enough of loafing there in hell!"
To the sun I yelled:
"You lazy mummer!
in the clouds cushioning,
while here - knowing neither winter nor summer,
I sit, just posters brushing!"
I yelled to the sun:
"Hey, wait there!
Listen, golden brightbrow,
instead of vainly
setting in the air,
have tea with me
What have I done!
For ruin I'm heading!
of his own goodwill,
the sun himself,
is marching over the hill.
Not wanting to show him I'm afraid-
back I retreat, guardedly.
Now his eyes lighten the garden shade.
He's actually in the garden now.
crannies he spread;
in flooded a sunny mass,
having burst in
he drew his breath,
and spoke in a deep bass.
"I've withheld my fires you see
the first time since creation began.
You've invited me?
So lay out the tea,
and, poet, lay on the jam!"
Tears from my poor eyes were streaming-
the heat really made me scary,
all the same-
I got the samovar steaming:
sit down, comrade luminary!"
What possessed me to shout at him like a fool,
inwardly myself I cursed, -
and sat confused
on the corner of a stool,
frightened it might be worse!
But a radiance strange
streamed from the sun, -
and my tact
no longer taxing,
I sit and chat with the luminated one,
and about that I chatted,
worn out with ROSTA publicity,
but the sun:
don't get so rattled,
see things with greater simplicity!
You think it's easy
to shine so?
- If so, come and have a test! -
But once you go -
why have a go
go - and shine your damnedest!"
We gossiped like that till darkness appeared,
till the night before, that is.
For how could there be any darkness here?
like chums we chatted.
in open friendship bonded,
to slap him on the back I dared.
And likewise the sun
"Why, comrade, we're a pair!
let us dawn
away the drabness of the universe.
As the sun, myself I'll fling,
and you - yourself,
And shadows' walls,
and jails of night
fell to its double-barreled shot.
Battering barrage of poetry and light -
shine out, no matter what!
And when the sun gets tired,
wants to rest
why suddenly -
I shine with all my might -
and once more day is trumpeted.
Shine all the time,
for ever shine.
the last days' depths to plumb,
to shine - !
spite every hell combined!
So runs my slogan -
and the sun's!