To the poets, my friends
It’s known that a true poet meets a tragic culmination, And also it’s important when it falls out. At twenty-six, his end one in a pistol duel faced1, Another - in a noose in that darned hostel2. When Christ was thirty-three... He was a poet, and he said, “Don’t kill! If not, I’ll find thee everywhere.” They nailed his hands - to stop his teaching, to suppress the threat To being rich of his immense affairs. When I think over thirty-seven, I sober up right off, And now again it gives me lots of trouble, Because at thirty-seven, great Pushkin3 get the deadly shot, And Mayakovsky4 with a shot was done for. Let’s stay for a short while at thirty-seven. So yes or no? - This question should be necessarily answered. On this so bloody point, we lost as Byron5 as Rimbaud6, But modern poets often found ways to pass it. The duel was delayed awhile, or one might never fought, At thirty-three they crucified him slightly. At thirty-seven, his tears were sometimes shed, ’stead of blood hot, His hair then turned gray, but only lightly. “You’ve gotten, O poets, frightened,” they scoff, “and can no longer fight?” Have patience, all you neurasthenic creatures! The poets walk with bare feet on the steel blade of life And cut their bare souls till they get bleeding. I pity you, supporters and adherents of fatal dates, You’re just like concubines in harems longing. Our life expectancy has grown considerably of late, And, maybe, now the poets will last longer. Of course, the poet’s neck is simply destined for the noose, His chest is the right mark for bolts and bullets. But dates and immortality are subjects which are loose, So let the poets live, don’t you be fumed at.        
1 Mikhail Lermontov was killed in a duel at the age of twenty-six.
2 Sergey Yesenin was found hanged in the Angleterre Hotel in Leningrad when there remained three days before the start of 1926.
3 Alexander Pushkin was mortally wounded in a duel at the age of thirty-seven in 1837.
4 Vladimir Mayakovsky shot himself shortly before reaching thirty-seven years old.
5 George Byron died at the thirty-seventh year of his life.
6 Arthur Rimbaud died at the age of thirty-seven.
© Akbar Muhammad. Translation, 2016
[Some stanzas are adapted from translations by other translators:
Eugeny Derbarmdiker’s “Fatal Numerology”,
Sergey Roy’s “On Fatal Dates and Figures”.]