Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Would Like ... yet again

Though I've posted this poem before in this blog, I never get tired of reading it ... over and over again.  It is the one poem that I wish I could have written because it lives in my heart.  But Yevgeniy Yevtushenko wrote it first and it is far better than anything I could ever hope to write.  But it lives in me so that's something.  Again here it is in his own translation.

 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


Homeless with a Laptop, That is my Name

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