Razor-sharp were the rays when the sun rose at dawn, And that morning the wolves were supposed to mourn, As big dragonflies took off and shuttered the sky, And, surprisingly, hunters, were able to fly, And the slaughter began - lie and die! Wolves lay down and meekly withdrew their fangs, Even he, who was famous for courage and strength, He, who felt with his paws every trap, every pit, Even he, who so far by no bullet was hit, He was scared and lost for a while all his grit! Wolves must stop loving Life as it brings no peace And to wolves Life is cruel and scornful! Death is close to wolves - look at his bared teeth! They are white, they are strong, they are awful! Dogs must know - one day when I even the score, With contempt I will grin at my foe! But five desperate words "We are wolves no more!" We tattooed with our blood in the snow! Tails retracted, exactly like dogs then we crawled, Muzzles up to the sky, we were stunned and appalled. Did the Lord wish to punish us and execute? Why this massacre then, so horrid and brute? Why from black dragonflies would they shoot, shoot and shoot? Soon we soaked with blood under this rain of lead, It was clear enough - no one would have fled! Ice was melting beneath us as if in a pan, God did not punish us, we were slaughtered by Man, Some were killed as they leapt, some were killed as they ran! Dogs! Stop chasing my pack when we are on the run, We are wolves and wild freedom we cherish! Wish there were no men and weíd be one on one - You are curs and like curs you will perish! I donít know if ever my strength Iíll restore, Yet Iíll grin with contempt at my foe! But five desperate words: "We are wolves no more!" We tattooed with our blood in the snow! Quickly run to the woods - there safety lies! When you run their fire cannot be precise! Save your lives, save the cubs, donít you panic, donít squall! Right in front of drunk hunters I dash and I roll, Wolves are lost and their souls I call! Those alive hid away on the opposite bank, Iím alone, I cannot do a lot, to be frank! I canít see, I canít breathe, somethingís wrong with my scent, Where are you, sylvan kings, who will make the ascent? You, the yellow-eyed, will you keep your necks bent? ...I survived, I was caught and with dogs now I live, What a terrible end of the story! Dogs are our kin, but we used to believe - Dogs existed to be our quarry! Though my teeth arenít as healthy and sharp as before, I will grin with contempt at my foe! But five desperate words: "We are wolves no more!" We tattooed with our blood in the snow!
© George Tokarev. Translation, 2003
Edited by Robert Titterton