Saturday, June 5, 2010

Andrei Voznesensky (1933-2010)

A ballad - Doctoral thesis

The nose grows
during the whole of one’s life.
(from scientific sources)

Yesterday my doctor told me:
“Clever you may be, however
Your snout is frozen.”
So don’t go out in the cold,

On me, on you, on Capuchine monks,
According to well-known medical laws,
Relentless as clocks, without pause
Nose-trunks triumphantly grow.

During the night they grow
On every citizen, high or low,
On janitors, ministers, rich and poor,
Hooting endlessly like owls,
Chilly and out of kilter,
Brutally bashed by a boxer
Or foully crushed by a door,
And those of our feminine neighbors
Are foxily screwed like drills
Into many a key-hole.

Gogol, that mystical uneasy soul,
Intuitively sensed their role.

My good friend Buggins got drunk: in his dream
It seemed that, like a church-spire
Breaking through wash-bowls and chandeliers,
Piercing and waking startled ceilings,
Impaling each floor like
Receipts on a spike,
Higher and higher
his nose
“What could that mean?”, he wondered next morning.
“A warning,” I said, “of Doomsday: it looks
As if they were going to check your books.”
On the 30th poor Buggins was haled off to jail.

Why, O Prime Mover of Noses, why
Do our noses grow longer, our lives shorter,
Why during the night should these fleshly lumps,
Like vampires or suction-pumps,
Drain us dry?

They report that Eskimos
Kiss with their nose.

Among us this has not caught on...

A. Voznesensky (transl. W. H. Auden)