Monday, April 23, 2012

I would like

I would like

to be born

in every country,

have a passport,

for them all

to throw

all foreign offices

into panic,

be every fish

in every ocean

and every dog

in the streets of the world.

I don’t want to bow down

before any idols

or play at being

a Russian Orthodox church hippie,

but I would like to plunge

deep into Lake Baikal

and surface snorting


why not in the Mississippi?

In my damned beloved universe

I would like

to be a lonely weed,

but not a delicate Narcissus

kissing his own mug

in the mirror.

I would like to be

any of God’s creatures

right down to the last mangy hyena--

but never a tyrant

or even the cat of a tyrant.

I would like to be

reincarnated as a man

in any image:

a victim of prison tortures,

a homeless child in the slums of Hong Kong,

a living skeleton in Bangladesh,

a holy beggar in Tibet,

a black in Cape Town,

but never

in the image of Rambo.

The only people whom I hate

are the hypocrites--

pickled hyenas

in heavy syrup.

I would like to lie

under the knives of all the surgeons in the world,

be hunchbacked, blind,

suffer all kinds of diseases,

wounds and scars,

be a victim of war,

or a sweeper of cigarette butts,

just so a filthy microbe of superiority

doesn’t creep inside.

I would not like to be in the elite,

nor, of course,

in the cowardly herd,

nor be a guard dog of that herd,

nor a shepherd,

sheltered by that herd.

And I would like happiness,

but not at the expense of the unhappy,

and I would like freedom,

but not at the expense of the unfree.

I would like to love

all the women in the world,

and I would like to be a woman, too--

just once...

Men have been diminished

by Mother Nature.

Why couldn’t we give motherhood

to men?

If an innocent child


below his heart,

man would probably

not be so cruel.

I would like to be man’s daily bread--


a cup of rice

for a Vietnamese woman in mourning,

cheap wine

in a Neapolitan workers’ trattoria,

or a tiny tube of cheese

in orbit round the moon.

Let them eat me,

let them drink me,

only let my death

be of some use.

I would like to belong to all times,

shock all history so much

that it would be amazed

what a smart aleck I was.

I would like to bring Nefertiti

to Pushkin in a troika.

I would like to increase

the space of a moment

a hundredfold,

so that in the same moment

I could drink vodka with fishermen in Siberia

and sit together with Homer,



and Tolstoy,

drinking anything,

except, of course,


--dance to the tom-toms in the Congo,

--strike at Renault,

--chase a ball with Brazilian boys

at Copacabana Beach.

I would like to know every language,

like the secret waters under the earth,

and do all kinds of work at once.

I would make sure

that one Yevtushenko was merely a poet,

the second--an underground fighter


I couldn’t say where

for security reasons,

the third--a student at Berkeley,

the fourth--a jolly Georgian drinker,

and the fifth--

maybe a teacher of Eskimo children in Alaska,

the sixth--

a young president,

somewhere, say, modestly speaking, in Sierra Leone,

the seventh--

would still be shaking a rattle in his stroller,

and the tenth...

the hundredth...

the millionth...

For me it’s not enough to be myself,

let me be everyone!

Every creature

usually has a double,

but God was stingy

with the carbon paper,

and in his Paradise Publishing Corporation

made a unique copy of me.

But I shall muddle up

all God’s cards--

I shall confound God!

I shall be in a thousand copies to the end of my days,

so that the earth buzzes with me,

and computers go berserk

in the world census of me.

I would like to fight on all your barricades,


dying each night

like an exhausted moon,

and resurrecting each morning

like a newborn sun,

with an immortal soft spot--fontanel--

on my head.

And when I die,

a smart-aleck Siberian Francois Villon,

do not lay me in the earth

of France

or Italy,

but in our Russian, Siberian earth,

on a still-green hill,

where I first felt

that I was


Composed and translated from the Russian by Yevgenny Yevtushenko
Loved, copied and pasted by Homeless with a Laptop, That is my Name

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