Among the melting candles and evening prayer, Among the trophies of war and the peace time bonfires, Lived the bookish children, not knowing battle, Pining away in their small catastrophes. To children, age and life are eternally vexing And we fought until scratched, to death insults, But our mothers patched our garments in time, While we devoured books, drunk from the lines. Those locks of ours stuck to the sweaty foreheads, Phrases filled the pits of our bellies with sweet heaving, And the scent of struggle turned our heads, Flowing down from the yellowed pages. And we, not knowing war, tried to grasp, Mistaking a wail for the war cry, - The mystery of the word "order", The purpose of borders, The meaning of assault and rattle of war chariots. In the bubbling kettles of gone pillages and turbulences, There is so much nurture for our little minds! In our childish games we placed our enemies In roles of renegades, cowards, judases. We didnít rest until the evil ceased, We swore our love to the fair dames, And reassuring our friends And loving our fellow men We led ourselves into the hero roles. But you canít hide away in dreams until the end of time, The playís day is short, for there is so much pain around! Try to soften the clench of the palms of the dead, And take over the weapon from the toil-worn hands. See, seizing a still warm sword, And clothed in armor - What is what, what is what! Find out who are you - A coward, Or the minion of fortune, And taste the real battle. And when a wounded friend will fall before you, And you will scream in grief over your first loss, And when you will be left at your witís end Because not you, but he was killed, - You will see what youíve learned, Recognized, found out By the grin of the guise - Thatís the death barred grin! Lie and evil - look at them - How crude are their faces, And always left behind Are carrion crows and coffins! If hewing your way through with fatherís sword You didnít forget the salty tears, If in a fiery battle you felt the how and why of things, Then you read the right books! If you didnít eat a measly piece of meat from the knife, If, your hands folded, you watched from your own spot And didnít battle a scoundrel, a tyrant, Then you were in life for no reason at all!
© Nellie Tkach. Translation, 1998