On that day, all derided the Captain, all scoffed; Shipís boy, skipper - all swore fast and loud. Proudly rearing and tearing their bandages off. Sailors bellowed and raged in the shrouds. Then the doors of our brains Off the hinges were torn And were carried away To a mirage-like shore. In the faraway Promised Lands landing, Lands Columbian and Magellanian. But it seems I will not See those lands newly found: Doing eight or nine knots I ran firmly aground. Ours were dangerous goals, But the brave lads were game. Someone steered for the shoals. Iím the one more to blame. Then my brothers sailed on - I was left all alone. The more sensitive ones swallowed spray, And without me the great daring voyage went on - They just wrote me off, and sailed away. Roundly cursing the weather, Pate and pitiless chance, They sailed off, all together, My unfortunate sons. First, two salvoes, and then they would sail on: Hail, Columbus! And then hail, Magellan! I drink foam as the waves Slap my sides - I donít care. Decks to bottom the staves Have been crashed and laid bare. Slime and seaweed and gore Thickly cover my sides. You can look at my sores - I have nothing to hide. Hereís a cannonball furrow, quite close to the frame; Here are scars left by ramming and fire; You can see where I was many years ago maimed By a pirateís well-honed grappling irons. Look, my keel is uneven, As if gnawed by huge teeth - My lean belly was riven Long ago by a reef. I am rolling and naming and wheezing Though Iíve been on the high seas well seasoned. Winds are sucking my blood Creeping foríard by stealth. Whipping starboard to port... Winds, they will be my death. They lambaste me and wail From first light to first light, They are driving long nails In my soul day and night. Like unbidden guests out on a rampage, the swine, Winds kick everything here upside down. How I wish that they choked in my dark holds on wine, Or in fury pulled me off the ground. Theyíre stronger, thatís sure - Iím a wild beast at bay. But itís not the windsí fury Thatíll help me today. Like thin arms are my masts, thin and frail. Like an old womanís breasts are my sails. This will be the eighth wonder - A generous swell Will sweep over and under My mouldy old shell. I will shake off the spell, I will rise on a crest, And my white sails will swell Like a young maidenís breast. Iíll catch up with the fleet, I will show no disdain For my kin who chose not to remember. I will let my old crew come on board once again. I will not rake old memoriesí embers. But thereís no room for me In the fleet line today. You play dangerously, Cruiser - out of my way! Are we brothers or not? I got out of a hole... Frigate, bear hard a-port. Thereís enough sea for all... That it should come to this - You reject me, by God! Once oneís stuck on the reefs, Is one wiped out for good? Open ranks, heed my call, Weíre all ships in the end, Thereís enough sea for all And there is enough land, So look forward, men, to happy landings In Columbian lands and Magellanian.
© Sergei Roy. Translation, 1990