The cold hasnít come, nor the ice. The earth is warm, the guelder rose is red. But one more man has lain down in the ground In Novodevichii Cemetery. Probably he didnít know What the frivolous common folk say: Death takes those first Who play at dying. So then, Makarych, donít be in a hurry. Undo the pegs, loosen the clamps. Weíll shoot it over! Weíll rewrite the script! Play it again! Stay alive. But, you took a bullet in the stomach That would make strong men weep, Fell to the ground like a faithful dog, And there a guelder rose grew, A red, red guelder rose. Death takes the very best, Drags them off one at a time. What a brother of ours has departed! It went badly with him! He does not rage or grieve.         He would have been Razin this year! Whatís reality? The Onega! The Naroch? Yes! Stoves-benches, Makarych, That kid of yours is no longer alive! You caressed the white trunks of birches In the hollow, cinematic dawn, But settled down in earnest, More decisively than in the movies. So after a temporary hitch Fate muttered through its teeth: "Remove the taboo from the one with the high cheekbones For having seen in the grave All the wakes and memorial services! Take that one with the great soul in his body And the heavy burden on his humped back, Take him out of bed on a warmish morning, So that he does not experience his fate." And after the obligatory bath, Clean and smiling and sober, He up and died in earnest, More quietly than in the movies. Letting his coffin into the earth Amidst the birches of Novodevichii, We howled, lowering our friend Into the roar without time or boundary, Next to a lilac bush growing there, Autumnal and naked.
© H. William Tjalsma. Translation, 1982