‘не надо говорит неправду детям…’ (Lies) by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Telling lies to the young is wrong.

Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.

Telling them that God’s in his heaven

and all’s well with the world is wrong.

The young know what you mean. The young are people.

Tell them the difficulties can’t be counted,

and let them see not only what will be

but see with clarity these present times.

Say obstacles exist they must encounter

sorrow happens, hardship happens.

The hell with it. Who never knew

the price of happiness will not be happy.

Forgive no error you recognize,

it will repeat itself, increase,

and afterwards our pupils

will not forgive in us what we forgave.

.

.

by Евгений Александрович Евтушенко

(Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko)

(1952)

translation by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi

A recital of the poem in Russian by a lady named Yulia who reads ‘poems of love’ on her YouTube channel.

Beneath is the original Russian version of the poem in Cyrillic.

Не надо говорить неправду детям…

Не надо говорить неправду детям,
не надо их в неправде убеждать,
не надо уверять их, что на свете
лишь тишь да гладь да божья благодать.

Не надо по желанью своему
морочить их несбыточными снами.
Учить не надо верить их тому,
чему уже давно не верим сами.

Солгавший детям детство обезлюдит,
подсунет им бесчестье, словно честь.
Пусть видят же не только то, что будет,
пусть видят, ясно видят то, что есть.

Сладинка лжи — отрава в манной каше.
Писк лживый не прощайте у кутят,
и нас потом воспитанники наши
за то, что мы прощали, — не простят.

Red Balloon by Dannie Abse

It sailed across the startled town,

over chapels, over chimney-pots,

wind-blown above a block of flats

before it floated down.

 

Oddly, it landed where I stood,

and finding’s keeping, as you know.

I breathed on it, I polished it,

till it shone like living blood.

 

It was my shame, it was my joy,

it brought me notoriety.

From all of Wales the rude boy came,

it ceased to be a toy.

 

I heard the girls of Cardiff sigh

When my balloon, my red balloon,

soared higher like a happiness

towards the dark blue sky.

 

Nine months since, have I boasted of

my unique, my only precious;

but to no one dare I show it now

however long they swear their love.

 

‘It’s a Jew’s balloon,’ my best friend cried,

‘stained with our dear Lord’s blood.’

‘That I’m a Jew is true,’ I said,

said I, ‘that cannot be denied.’

 

‘What relevance?’ I asked, surprised,

‘what’s religion to do with this?’

‘Your red balloon’s a Jew’s balloon,

let’s get it circumcised.’

 

Then some boys laughed and some boys cursed,

some unsheathed their dirty knives:

some lunged, some clawed at my balloon,

but still it would not burst.

 

They bled my nose, they cut my eye,

half conscious in the street I heard,

‘Give up, give up your red balloon.’

I don’t know exactly why.

 

Father, bolt the door, turn the key,

lest those sad, brash boys return

to insult my faith and steal

my red balloon from me.

 

by Dannie Abse

from Poems, Golders Green (1962)


Fun facts: Dannie Abse was born in Cardiff, Wales, to a Jewish family. He was the younger brother of politician and reformer Leo Abse and the eminent psychoanalyst, Wilfred Abse. Unusually for a middle-class Jewish boy, Dannie Abse attended St Illtyd’s College, a working-class Catholic school in Splott.