Saturday, April 7, 2018

An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage by Vladimir Mayakovksy


An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage 

A hundred and forty suns in one sunset blazed, 
and summer rolled into July; 
it was so hot, 
the heat swam in a haze— 
and this was in the country. 
Pushkino, a hillock, had for hump 
Akula, a large hill, 
and at the hill’s foot 
a village stood— 
crooked with the crust of roofs. 
Beyond the village 
gaped a hole 
and into that hole, most likely, 
the sun sank down each time, 
faithfully and slowly. 
And next morning, 
to flood the world 
anew, 
the sun would rise all scarlet. 
Day after day 
this very thing 
began 
to rouse in me 
great anger. 
And flying into such a rage one day 
that all things paled with fear, 
I yelled at the sun point-blank: 
“Get down! 
Stop crawling into that hellhole!” 
At the sun I yelled: 
“You shiftless lump! 
You’re caressed by the clouds, 
while here—winter and summer— 
I must sit and draw these posters!” 
I yelled at the sun again: 
“Wait now! 
Listen, goldbrow, 
instead of going down, 
why not come down to tea 
with me!” 
What have I done! 
I’m finished! 
Toward me, of his own good will, 
himself, 
spreading his beaming steps, 
the sun strode across the field. 
I tried to hide my fear, 
and beat it backwards. 
His eyes were in the garden now. 
Then he passed through the garden. 
His sun’s mass pressing 
through the windows, 
doors, 
and crannies; 
in he rolled; 
drawing a breath, 
he spoke deep bass: 
“For the first time since creation, 
I drive the fires back. 
You called me? 
Give me tea, poet, 
spread out, spread out the jam!” 
Tears gathered in my eyes— 
the heat was maddening, 
but pointing to the samovar 
I said to him: 
“Well, sit down then, 
luminary!” 
The devil had prompted my insolence 
to shout at him, 
confused— 
I sat on the edge of a bench; 
I was afraid of worse! 
But, from the sun, a strange radiance 
streamed, 
and forgetting 
all formalities, 
I sat chatting 
with the luminary more freely. 
Of this 
and that I talked, 
and of how I was swallowed up by Rosta, 
but the sun, he says: 
All right, 
don’t worry, 
look at things more simply! 
And do you think 
I find it easy 
to shine? 
Just try it, if you will!— 
You move along, 
since move you must; 
you move—and shine your eyes out!” 
We gossiped thus till dark— 
Till former night, I mean. 
For what darkness was there here? 
We warmed up 
to each other 
and very soon, 
openly displaying friendship, 
I slapped him on the back. 
The sun responded! 
“You and I, 
my comrade, are quite a pair! 
Let’s go, my poet, 
let’s dawn 
and sing 
in a gray tattered world. 
I shall pour forth my sun, 
and you—your own, 
in verse.” 
A wall of shadows, 
a jail of nights 
fell under the double-barreled suns. 
A commotion of verse and light— 
shine all your worth! 
Drowsy and dull, 
one tired, 
wanting to stretch out 
for the night. 
Suddenly—I 
shone in all my might, 
and morning ran its round. 
Always to shine, 
to shine everywhere, 
to the very deeps of the last days, 
to shine— 
and to hell with everything else! 
That is my motto— 
and the sun’s!

(Translated by Max Hayward and George Reavey)

 

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