Последнею усталостью устав (Filled with the final weariness…) by Boris Slutsky

Filled with the final weariness
Seized with the exhaustion before dying
His big hands limply spread
A soldier lies.
He could lie differently –
Could lie beside his wife, in his own bed,
Not tearing at the mosses drenched with blood.
But could he? Could he?
No, he could not.
The Ministry sent him his call-up notice,
Officers were with him, marched beside him.
The court-martial’s typewriters clattered in the rear.
But even without them, could he?
Hardly.
Without a call-up, he’d have gone himself.
And not from fear: from conscience, and for honor.
Weltering in his blood, the soldier lying
Has no complaint, and no thought of complaining.

by Борис Абрамович Слуцкий
(Boris Abramovich Slutsky)
translated by J. R. Rowland

Последнею усталостью устав

Последнею усталостью устав,
Предсмертным умиранием охвачен,
Большие руки вяло распластав,
Лежит солдат.
Он мог лежать иначе,
Он мог лежать с женой в своей постели,
Он мог не рвать намокший кровью мох,
Он мог…
Да мог ли? Будто? Неужели?
Нет, он не мог.
Ему военкомат повестки слал.
С ним рядом офицеры шли, шагали.
В тылу стучал машинкой трибунал.
А если б не стучал, он мог?
Едва ли.
Он без повесток, он бы сам пошел.
И не за страх — за совесть и за почесть.
Лежит солдат — в крови лежит, в большой,
А жаловаться ни на что не хочет.

Additional information: Бори́с Абра́мович Слу́цкий (Boris Slutsky) (7 May 1919 in Slovyansk, Ukraine – 23 February 1986 in Tula) was a Soviet poet of the Russian language.

Slutsky’s father was a white-collar worker and his mother a teacher. He went to school in Kharkov and from 1937 he studied in Moscow, first in law school and then at the Gorky Literary Institute. During World War II he made friends with many of the poets who were to die in the war and was himself severely wounded. Though he published some poetry in 1941, he did not publish again until after Stalin’s death in 1953. Ilya Ehrenburg wrote an article in 1956 adovicating that a collection of Slutsky’s work be published. He created a sensation by quoting many unknown poems. Discussings Slutsky’s poetry, Mikhail Svetlov said, “Of one thing I am sure – here is a poet who writes better than we all do.”

Slutsky’s first collection, Pamiat’ (Memory) (1957), immediately established his reputation as a poet. His most celebrated poems are “Kelnskaia iama” (The Pit of Cologne) and “Loshadi v okeane” (Horses in the Sea). His poems “Bog” (God) and “Khozain” (The Boss) sharply criticized Stalin even before the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956.

Slutsky’s poetry is deliberately coarse, prosaic, and always distinctive. He evoked many imitators and much ridicule, but he also taught many of the postwar generation of poets. During the scandalous attacks on Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago in 1959, Slutsky unexpectedly came out against Pasternak. It was a crucial error. Many of his admirers turned their backs on him, but, more important, he never forgave himself. When he died, he left so much poetry unpublished that almost every month for several years new poems appeared in magazines and newspapers.

Biographical information about Slutsky, p.689, ‘Twentieth Century Russian Poetry’ (1993), compiled by Yevgeny Yevtushenko (ed. Albert C. Todd and Max Hayward) , published by Fourth Estate Limited by arrangement with Doubleday of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. (transcribed as found in the original text).

Книга жалоб – в каждом магазине… (Every Store…) by Yevgeny Vinokurov

Every store keeps a book for complaints
And, if you ask for it, they have to give it to you!
It wouldn’t be a bad idea, I think,
If eternity had a book like that.
Then people wouldn’t have to keep silent about their sorrow.
…Timidly, cautious at first, they would all come, bringing
The griefs they endure, the wrongs they are made to suffer
To universal attention and judgement.
How we should then be struck, I know,
By one entry of half a line
written
By that woman who, slumped against its railings,
Was crying in the park last night…

.

by Евгений Михайлович Винокуров (Yevgeny Mikhailovich Vinokurov)
(1961)
Translated by Albert C. Todd

Additional information: He served in the artillery during the Second World War, studied at the Gorky Literary Institute and published his first poems in 1948. As co-editor of the poetry section of the journal Октябрь (October) he published Boris Slutsky, Nikolai Zabolotsky and the young Bella Akhmadulina amongst many others.

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

.

Книга жалоб – в каждом магазине…

Книга жалоб – в каждом магазине,
Требуйте её, – должны подать!..

Предлагаю вечности: отныне
Завести подобную тетрадь,

Чтоб о боли люди не молчали,
И тогда-то на вселенский суд
Все свои обиды и печали
Люди осторожно понесут…

Как тогда б, я знаю, поразила
Надпись в полстроки из-под пера
Женщины, что павши на перила,
Ночью в парке плакала вчера.

1961