Amid guttering candles and prayers before night, Amid trophies of war and the fires of peace There lived bookish children, which never knew fights, Pining from little troubles and yearning for feats. Children are always bothered By age and life mode. And we would bruise each other; Till insults we fought. In time mothers would look After our clothes. But we would gulp the books, Growing drunk from the words. From the sentences it was alarming in breast. Upon perspired foreheads the hairs would glue. In a whirl were our heads from the scent of contest, Streaming onto us from pages of yellow hue. Having not known wars, Taking howl for war-cry, We were trying to know, To conceive and to pry Secret of the commands, Meaning of the attack, Destination of bounds And war-chariotsí clank. And in boiling kettles of past stirs and wars There was plenty of food for the brains, so small. In our childish games we would assign our foes Upon Judasesí, dastardsí and scoundrelsí roles. And we would not allow Scent of rascal to cool. We would vow to love Ladies, most beautiful. Loving our neighbours, Appeasing our pals, Into roles of heroes We put ourselves. Itís impossible to stay in dreams very long. Instant of funs is short, when around is the pain. You, attempt to unclasp palms of the perished one And to take over weapon from hands, overstrained. Having seized sword, still warm, Having donned armour, test: To what price what will come? What is the dearest? Who are you? Verify. Coward or choice of fate? Try the taste of the fight, Which has genuine traits. When your wounded friendís fallen amid the fightís din; From the first loss youíve set up the howl of grief; When you have all at once stayed without your skin, Because he was killed, but you continue to live You will have realised that, Youíve learned in all depth By the grin of the visors The grin of the death. Look at evil and lie. How their faces are coarse. Look round. Always behind There are graves and crows. If by your fatherís sword You hacked way in your rush, If you reeled tears salted Upon your moustache, If you have understood "What is what" in the fight, Then books, you read in childhood, Were needful and right. If from knife you didnít eat Even morsel of meat, If you gazed from the crest Folding arms on your chest, Against hangman and villain Did not step in strife, Then you were good for nothing, When spending your life.
© Eugeny Koshelev. Translation, 2008