Страницы сайта поэта Иосифа Бродского (1940-1996)

Иосиф Бродский

Стихотворение на английском

A Tale

I
In walks the Emperor, dressed as Mars;
his medals clink and sway.
The General Staff sports so many stars,
it looks like the Milky Way.

The Emperor says, "I guess you guess
what you are here for."
The generals rise and bark, "Oh yes,
Sire! To start a war."

"Right," says the Emperor. "Our enemy
Is powerful, mean, and brash.
But we'll administer him such an enema
his toilet won't need a flush.

"Move your artillery! Move your warships!
Where is my gorgeous horse?
Forward! May God, whom our nation worships,
join our brave air force!"

"Yes!" cry the warriors. "Our job is carnage,
ruin, destruction, void.
We promise, Sire: we'll find a Carthage
and we'll leave it destroyed."

"Great!" cries the Emperor. "What one conquers
is up to the scholars' quills.
And let the Treasury boys go bonkers
trying to pay the bills."

The generals thunder: "Well said, Sire.
Our coin is of tolling bells.
May the sun that won't set over your empire
rise for nobody else!"

And off roars the turbine, off clangs the metal,
off they march, hand on hilt,
as many a rose curls its tender petal,
ready to wait and wilt.

II
It's no Armageddon, it's not some smarmy
earthquake or H-bomb test.
No, it's just the Imperial Army
trying to do its best.

The sky is falling, the earth is gaping,
the ocean simply boils.
"Life," says the Emperor, "is just aping
popular abstract oils.

"War," he continues, "is like a museum."
And the Top Brass agree:
"Sire, we'll paint like that ad nauseam,
sine Art equals History!

"History never says it's sorry,
no does it say, What if.
To enter History, a territory
first has to come to grief."

"History never says it's sorry,"
join the enlisted men.
"Who needs memento when we've got mori?
History must know when."

"Ah, tell them to turn the good old horizon
vertical, save its sail,"
adds the Emperor, with his eyes on
the most minute detail.

"Yes," cry the generals. "Yes, for heaven's
sake. That's what been amiss.
Let's push the button and see what happens.
This must be a masterpiece."

And lo, the world turns topsy-turvy,
in other words, goes bust.
"Gosh," says the Emperor. "That was nervy,
but, in the context, just."

III
Now there's nothing around to argue
over: no pros or cons.
"Hey, enemy!" the Emperor shouts. "Are you
there?" -- There's no response.

Now it's pure space, devoid of mountains,
plains, and their bric-a-brac.
"Let's," says the Emperor, "sing our anthem's
lyrics and raise the flag."

Up flies the pennant, attended only
by two or three evening bats.
"A victory often makes one lonely,"
the Emperor says, then adds:

"Let's have a monument, since my stallion,
white as a hyacinth,
is old and looks, as it were, quite alien;
and write on the granite plinth:

" 'Tight was the enemy's precious anus.
We, though, stood strong and firm.'
The critics might say we went bananas.
But we've got it all on film.

"Lest her sweet mutants still cry, the mother
may sing them the ancient lay.
The future as such has no purpose, other
than pushing down Replay."

At sunset, everything looks quite pretty.
Down goes the temperature.
The world lies motionless, like a treaty
without a signature.

The stars start to twinkle, remote and jolly.
The eye travels rather far.
One feels a little bit melancholy.
But there is one's cigar.

1995


Источник: http://www.baku.ru/frmpst-text.php?nd=1&cmm_id=88&usp_id=0&frm_id=226529&frmpst_id=2018649&id=2627200#2627200







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