We banished the tyrant tsars,
the tsarist cannibals were smashed,
and afterward – faster! To the wall!
We ourselves were dragged.
And afterwards – our fine young reapers
came out swinging with such zeal,
that all those murder-loving tsars
turned over in their graves.
by Николай Иванович Тряпкин
(Nikoai Ivanovich Tryapkin)
translated by Bradley Jordan
Разбили царских людоедов,
А после — к стенке, поскорей
Тянули собственных полпредов.
А после — хлопцы-косари
С таким усердьем размахнулись,
Что все кровавые цари
В своих гробах перевернулись.
Additional information: There is little about Tryapkin in English except a Russian site with a few details. Much of his poetry involved rural imagery. Tryapkin was born 19 December 1919 and died on 20 February 1999. He was buried at the Rakitki cemetery in the Moscow region.
The original version’s first line refers to Herod (Ирод) but the translation subtitutes this with the more secular ‘tyrant’.
Tryapkin was born into a peasant family; his father was a joiner. In 1930 his family moved into the trading village Lotoshino near Moscow. Though his father’s income was slight and times were difficult, something about country life enchanted the future poet forever. From 1939 to 1941 he studied in Moscow at the Historical Archive Institute (from 1956 to 1958 he also studied at the Higher Literary Courses). Rejected by the army for health reasons during World War II, he was evacuated to a tiny village in the far north near Solvychegodsky, at first to plow and then to work as an accountant on a collective farm. Here Tryapkin’s creative life began; his first poems were published in 1945.
At first it seemed that he was no more than a talented balalaika player whose fingers skillfully played the strings at a time when the Russian peasant was writhing under the lash of a system directed against both the land and the people who loved the land. But when the era of glasnost began and the censor was no longer able to defend the system from the bitter truths about itself, Tryapkin suddenly appeared with a magic tablecloth of Russian folklore that had been hidden until the time was right. He unfolded it and wrapped in its white fabric was not the traditional abundance of food, but the bones of so many nameless people, the testimony of their suffering.Biographical information about Tryapkin, p.678, ‘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).