Let me explain a few things in my verse - To speak of all of them I have no right. I vas conceived in sin, like all of us, - The sweat and jitters of the wedding night. I knew that as we rise above the earth We learn the harshness thatís in power inherent. I neared the throne with dignity and worth. With all the hubris of an heir apparent. I knew Iíd have my way no matter what. I never suffered loss or was let down, Companions of the schooldesk and the sword All served me as their fathers served the crown. I never bothered to select my words, What came into my head. I simply tossed To highborn youths, and was believed: I was By right of birth their undisputed boss. Night watchmen feared us, feared for their life. We were the timeís disease, the timeís murrain, I slept on skins, I ate meat off a knife, I always gave my vicious horse free rein. I knew I would be told one day, "Be king!" Since birth, I felt a mark on my brow burning. The sounds of tourneys were like heady drink. But I was patient, too, with books and learning. I smiled - the smile, though, at the eyes would stop. When life seemed vulgar, empty, vicious, boring, My bitter anguish I concealed, brought up By Jester, now long dead. Amen, poor Yorick! But I refused to enter in the fight For privileges, glory, spoils and booty. All of sudden, for a page who died. For all young, fragile life I felt such pity... I soon forgot my passion for the chase, I haled now my greyhounds and my beagles; Away from wounded quarry I would race, And I would lash at huntsmen and at beaters. I now could see our games with every day Become more crude, outrageous, pitiless. At night, in secret I would wash away The filth and scum of daytime swinishness. My eyes were opened, but my plight grew worse. Intrigues and schemes at court I overlooked. I scorned the age, its men - and I immersed Myself in ancient manuscripts and books. All knowledge, like a sponge, absorbed my brain. I studied rest and motion in elation, But sciences and Muses are in vain When everywhere you see their refutation. What tied me to my mates I could not see, And Ariadneís thread proved a false schema. I racked my brains - to be or not to be - As if it really were a great dilemma. Our arrows fall on this eternal sea Of troubles, wretchedness and slavery. Like millet in a sieve, we try to sift A ghostly answer from this mannered query. Through rumbles, I could hear my fatherís cry. I answered it, though doubts rose like a wave. My thoughts - my burden - pulled me to the sky, The wings of flesh drove mc towards the grave. I was an alloy smelted by my days, So fragile it broke up before it set. Like all the world, I shed blood, and, as they, Could not resist revenge - it was too sweet. My rise before my death was a descent. Ophelia, I reject filth and decay, But through a murder I debased myself - No better than the man I had to slay. Iím Hamlet. I abhorred all violence, I did not care much for the Danish crown, But in their eyes I was a cut-throat prince Who killed a rival for his fatherís throne. A genius bursts like a delirious cry. At birth, death shows his visage, grim and leery. We pose again the tricky old reply And cannot find the necessary query.
© Sergei Roy. Translation, 1990