Itís very funny - really it is! I am amazed with how clever man is: Hooked noses I see and bared teeth, As if Iím at the carnival in Venice. They come on me - bright costumes trimmed with lace, Iím pulled inside, Iím being pinched and shaken; Well, now I see - my normal human face By all of them just for a mask was taken! Confetti, fire works... I feel I donít belong, They look reprovingly at me, discomfort grows. They yell at me that all my steps are wrong, They yell Iím stepping on my partnersí toes. Should I escape from this unreal feast? Or should I join this merry-go-round? I hope that beneath the masks of beasts Still human faces can sometimes be found. These characters all come from tales or books, These wigs and masks are brown, yellow, ruby... My neighborís Harlequin who has unhappy looks, The next oneís Hangman, while the otherís Booby. One tries to show people: all is well! Behind the mask the other hides despair... Some other men can no longer tell Their real faces from the masks they wear! I join their dance, I laugh with them, although, Iím not convinced that itís the right endeavor: Say, someone likes the mask of Hangman so That he would like to keep this mask forever... Say, Harlequin remains forever sad, Enjoying his abnormal wistful image... What if the foolish looks this Boobyís had Remain forever on his real visage?                
        ďWhoís honest here? - yet my soul asks, - Is there a kind face in this whirl-around?Ē Now all have learned to put on different masks To save their faces if they hit the ground. I know why these masks are often worn, I know why they are preferred by people - The mask of coldness and total unconcern Protects a man against a slap or spittle!
© George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton