A Fairy Tale by Daniil Kharms

There once was a man  by the name of Semyonov.

And Semyonov went out for a walk and lost his handkerchief.

And Semyonov started looking for a handkerchief and lost his hat.

And looking for a hat, he lost his jacket.

He began to look for a jacket and lost his boots.

– Yes – said Semyonov – this is a loss – I shall go home.

Semyonov began walking home – and he got lost.

– No – said Semyonov – I’d rather sit. And he sat down.

And he sat on a stone, and fell asleep.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Ivanovich Kharms)

a.k.a. Даниил Иванович Ювачёв (Daniil Ivanovich Yuvachov)

(1933)

translated by Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky


Personally I would have gone with ‘… and lost consciousness’ for the last line, instead of ‘… and fell sleep’ in order to maintain the structural repition for humourous effect even if this translation is a more accurate one.

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Old Women Falling Out by Daniil Kharms

Excessive curiosity made one old woman fall out of a window, plummet to the ground and break into pieces.

Another old woman poked her head out of a window to look at the one who had broken into pieces, but excessive curiosity made her too fall out of the window, plummet to the ground and break into pieces.

Then a third old woman fell out of a window, then a fourth, then a fifth.

When a sixth old woman fell out, I felt I’d had enough of watching them and went off to the Maltsev Market where I heard that a blind man had been given a knitted shawl.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Ivánovich Kharms)

(1937)

translated by Robert Chandler

Here’s The Rain Crashing Down by Daniil Kharms

Here’s the rain crashing down,

time has stopped.

The clocks go on helplessly knocking.

Grow, grass, you don’t need time.

Speak, Holy Spirit, you don’t need words.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Kharms)

(1937)

translated by Robert Chandler

This Is How Hunger Begins by Daniil Kharms

This is how hunger begins:

first you wake in good cheer,

then weakness begins,

and then boredom,

and then comes the losss

of the power of swift reason

and then comes calm –

and then the horror.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Kharms)

(1937)

translated by Robert Chandler

The Constancy of Merriment and Dirt by Daniil Kharms

Cool Water gurgles in the river

and the mountains’ shadow lies on the fields

and light fades in the sky. And birds

are already flying in dreams.

And the yardman with the black moustache

stands all night by the gate

and under his dirty hat he scratches

the back of his head with dirty hands.

And through the window come merry shouts,

the stamping of feet and the ring of bottles.

 

A day goes by, then a week,

and then the years go by

and people vanish

in neat ranks into their graves.

While the yardman with the black moustache

stands for years by the gate

and under his dirty hat he scratches

the back of his head with dirty hands.

And through the window come merry shouts,

the stamping of feet and the ring of bottles.

 

The moon and the sun have paled,

constellations have changed shape,

motion has become sticky

and time has become like sand.

While the yardman with the black moustache

stands again by the gate

and under his dirty hat he scratches

the back of his head with dirty hands.

And through the window come merry shouts,

the stamping of feet and the ring of bottles.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Kharms, 1933)

translated by Robert Chandler

One Fat Man by Daniil Kharms

One fat man invented a way to lose weight. And he lost it. The ladies began pestering him, trying to pry out his secret. But the thin man replied that it becomes men to lose weight, whereas it does not become women at all; that ladies, on the contrary, ought to be plump. And he was absolutely right.

by Даниил Иванович Хармс [Danill Kharms] (Mid-1930s)

Translated by Eugene Ostashevsky