Friday, February 25, 2011

Strength of Metal

The Goths of old at baptism meekly wore
A look of doom.... But when the holy waters
Washed over them, aloft they held their swords,
Their fists unbaptised left for ever after.

Whatever the commandment’s stern behest,
Humility, like patience, has its limit.
Though kind at heart, yet clenched I’ll keep my fist—
And may there be the strength of metal in it.

Translated by Irina Zheleznova


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life's Beginning

There were no toasts, no loaded tables,
No songs were sung when we were born,
And just our mothers at our cradles
Crooned over us a tune forlorn.

They carried us to work each day,
With none an eye on us to keep,
And while they stacked and forked the hay
They left us in the shade to sleep.

They toiled till dark and knew no rest
When night-time came and day was done,
For then they rocked us at their breast
And hushed us: "Sleep, my baby son.”

Some days they could not nurse or mind us,
And so we wouldn’t fret or weep
They stopped our mouths with pacifiers—
Rag dummies soaked in syrup sweet.

When harvest-time was at its height
They could not take us to the farm,
They left us, bundled very tight,
And prayed we wouldn’t come to harm.

We wriggled free and crawled outside
Into the sunlight and the heat,
And on the prickly stubble tried
To learn to walk on shoeless feet.

The world seemed strange and very new,
All things look different when you walk,
Familiar things you thought you knew:
The cat, the chickens, and the dog...

And stranger still—the rustling trees,
The moon, the thunder and the rain,
The silence and the rising breeze,
The creaking of the bucket chain...

Day followed day... The years rolled on.
Our shoulders broadened, arms grew strong.
With faces washed by many rains,
Dried in the morning wind and sun,
We started out upon our own.

Petrus Brovka

Translated by Olga Shartse

Friday, February 11, 2011

Everything Changes

Everything changes. you can make
a fresh start with your last breath.
but what has happened has happened.
And the water
you once poured in wine cannot be 
drained off again.

What has happened has happened. the water
You once poured in wine cannot be
Drained off, but
Everything changes. you can make
a fresh start with your last breath.

Bertolt Brecht