Whether you travel by car or by railway Or take a walk after supping some wine, With all the traffic that swarms round us these days It’s hard to live to the end of the line. Now here’s a crash for you, south of the Moskva, Three in a car went to bury their mate; Driver included, all three guys were injured - Only the one in the coffin escaped. Women sobbed hard through clenched teeth to earn money; Trumpets of brass hit false notes as they blew; There was a deacon whose high notes went funny - Only the one in the coffin was true. His former boss, who’s corrupt though he masks it, Kissed the pale forehead and spat with disdain. All pecked the brow - just the one in the casket Held off from kissing through modest restraint. Nothing’s for certain and next there was thunder; What hope have speeches against nature’s will? Some hid by graves, some found roofs to run under - Only the one who’d departed stayed still. What’s rain to him? Can it trouble him vastly? As for the living, would they were so tough! With the departed, those people of past days, We can’t compete; they’re much braver than us. Rumour will label you, much as you hurry, Just like the iron brands your brow in a stroke; Nothing, though, gives you a moment of worry Once you’re stretched out in a coffin of oak. It could be private or it could be common - Dead men aren’t troubled by housing like us. Isn’t he great? He’s a hero, this goner - He’s not insisting on bother or fuss. It’s full of rules in that kingdom of shadows - There’s neither danger nor problems to chafe; Here we’re awaiting events only God knows - Only the ones in their coffins are safe.
I hear: "He’s saying the dead are much greater!" No, I’m just showing cruel fate my contempt. We’ll all be finished off sooner or later - Only the ones in the grave are exempt!
© Margaret & Stas Porokhnya. Translation, 2007