Speaking In Tongues
Guided by Voices

Vladimir Mayakovsky

Translated by Alex Sitnitsky

Instead of a letter

Tobacco smoke corroded the air.
The room --
is a chapter in Kruchenykh's hell.
Remember --
this window,
I stroked your hands in a frenzy.
Your heart encased in iron.
You'll throw me out, perhaps,
one day.
My arm will break out in tremor,
while I
fight with the sleeve
in your dim doorway.
Lashed by despair I'll run out.
I'll become frantic
hurling my body into the street.
Don't let this happen,
dearest, beloved.
Let's say good-by now
and then let's split.
I know,
my love,
it's a heavy burden
and weighs you down
wherever you run.
Let me bellow out all words in --
one last cry of bitter complaint.
If an ox is exhausted by hard work --
it goes off
to lie down in cool sea water
to relieve the pain.
Apart from your love
there is no harbor,
and even through tears --
no respite from you to obtain.
When a tired regal elephant
craves rest,
it lies down in the scorched sand.
Apart from your love
there is no sun for me. The best
knowledge is not to guess
where and with whom you are. And
if she can so wear a poet
he would gladly trade her for
money and fame,
to me -- there is no such joyful sound
but that of your beloved name.
I won't throw myself down
in the stair-well --
when your face is dour --
nor drink poison
nor press the trigger
to my breast.
for your gaze,
nor razor has any power,
for your hands
there is no rope my neck to caress.
Tomorrow you will have forgotten
that I crowned you,
and burnt out a blossoming soul
with my love,
and the blasted carnival
of the fussy autumn
will ruffle my books
with a thunderlike laugh...
Will the dry leaves of my words
make you pause,
just for a second,
gasping for breath?
Let me at least,
lay the path for your,
departing steps
with the last tenderness.