Hit the road, be quick! Or - go to your grave. Yes, the choice before us is not very rich. We are doomed to a slow-moving life, Shackled to it for good measure. Someone out there decided to believe, And so he did, without a glance around, senselessly. But is this really life - when one is chained? But what choice is this - when one is fettered? Insidious is the kindness shown to us, Like the potions of crazy fortune-tellers. Death from one’s kin - is crouched beneath the stone, Behind - is also death, but from others. The soul has grown cold, hand and foot we’re bound, And we are mute, pawns about to be taken, And at us from any dirty pane of glass Shame bares its teeth in a crooked sneer. And what if we were now to smash the fetters And, seizing the villain by the throat, we Tried to find out who it was who hammered And chained us to this cruelly belauded life? Do we not place our hope in something? And may it be the chains outlast the teeth? Why do we knock at the door to paradise, Knuckles against forged iron gates? They offered us a quick exit from the war, But somehow managed to jack up the price; And so we are condemned to a long life By guilt, by shame, by betrayal. But is this life worth such a price? There’s still some way to go. Be calm! And far from that great and dreadful war It is still possible to die with dignity. Too early to equate with a marshy slime, No cushy nest awaits us in the rotting mould. We will not die of a tormenting life, We’ll come alive with a sure death.
© de Cate + Navrozov. Translation, 1995