For a great commander a short neckís best - That has been the case throughout all time - So his chin should rest upon his broad chest While his nape should join up with his spine. On a neck so short you cannot spot it Sits the head so comfortably glued, And itís so much harder to garrotte it And thereís nowhere there for a lasso. But they crane their necks to make them longer, Standing on the toe-seams of their socks. To see clearer into the blue yonder You must clear the other peopleís blocks. Youíve seen, while you stick out like a sore thumb, Light on the horizon - whatís the use? Standing on your toes youíre so unsure and Now your neck is open to the noose. And then any jackal full of spite is Free to sit and count your vertebrae. You see far, but itís not so far-sighted Showing folk your open neck that way.
But they crane their necks to make them longer, Standing on the toe-seams of their socks. To see clearer into the blue yonder You must clear the other peopleís blocks. Your head held high, spitting in the well, you Bring about your doom with your own hand. True commanders stamp, Iíve got to tell you, With their feet slapped flat upon the land. And in Asia they know how to ambush, So no demigod should let them creep Behind him till they give him a grand push Hard enough to knock him off his feet. But they crane their necks to make them longer, Standing on the toe-seams of their socks. To see clearer into the blue yonder You must clear the other peopleís blocks. He who gives his nerves a little slack as Though he dropped the reins and lost control Surely will be tackled from the back as Fingers grip his neck in their firm hold. You could always choose to take no chances, Hunching up your shoulders round your chin. Just donít think youíll get admiring glances If your headís so miserably pinned.
But they crane their necks to make them longer, Standing on the toe-seams of their socks. To see clearer into the blue yonder You must clear the other peopleís blocks. I was told this oriental story By a man as old as he was wise. I thought: "Even fables here are gory" As I checked my own neck out for size.
© Margaret & Stas Porokhnya. Translation, 2008