Twenty minutes to go Till the tanks start the show, Till the mortars a concert arrange. Soon your life won’t matter... At this moment a letter A young private received as he sat in his trench. It is so exciting When your girlfriend is writing, Or your mother is writing or dad... But it would have been better Had he gotten no letter, As it instantly drove the soldier mad! It was said in that note: “Sorry, I hardly wrote. I will not wait for you any more. With a man I am leaving, Hope you won’t be grieving, Wish you won’t be killed in this terrible war!” Bullets sang in the air And he cried in despair: “Oh my God, it’s a stab in the back! With this letter I’m truly Killed as if with a bullet, Just before tanks begin their deadly attack!” From his trench he then rose, As if coming to blows, But a blast in his life intervened... Slimy mud fingers squeezing, Glassy eyes, he stopped breathing... Only scraps of the letter were strewn by the wind!
© George Tokarev. Translation, 2005
Edited by Robert Titterton
© Chris Adams. Music, 2011
© Javier Ballester. Performance, 2011