My neighbourís throwing a big bash; His guests are never short of cash; His wife moves quicker than a flash - Sheís got a lot on. Down in the cellar sheís unlocked Her stores and comes back up well stocked; Meanwhile the stove remains unblocked From top to bottom. But round at mine, Iíve never-ending sorrows; My harvests always fail, my livestock dies; My stove breathes smoke as somethingís blocked the air flow; Or else my jaw starts swelling on one side. My neighboursí soup has meaty bits; The village hears them eating it; Their daughterís broken out in zits - She can be wed soon. Theyíre entertaining so that she Can meet her weedy groom-to-be, Who sings and dances like a flea - Itís cost a fortune! But round at mine, my guard dogs have gone funny; Their barking turned to howling at the moon. The blisters on my feet burst and went runny From constant tramping through my empty room. My neighbourís bottles disappear, But why not drink it while itís here? And why not sing while thereís good cheer And itís all scot free? At mine, the wifeís knocked up again, My goose flock never gets its grain; Itís not the geese, though, thatís a pain - Everything bugs me. And round at mine, Iíve roaches on the walls now; Theyíre back whether I poison them or what - Itís ploughing time but I canít move at all now; A boilís appeared in such a nasty spot. My neighbour sent his little one So Iíd be there to eat his crumbs; Of course I said I wouldnít come But he insisted. He must have had a flask or two To be in such a generous mood; I went and drank and ate his food - The gloomís not lifted. And in the midst of all this celebration I whispered something in the bridegroomís ear; He left without a momentís hesitation; The bride sobs in her room for all to hear. My neighbour yelled: "Itís my diktat - For Iím the proletariat - If you donít eat you donít drink jack!", And downed his own jar. At that the guests jumped to their feet But then the kid began to speak: "Itís ďIf you donít work you donít eatĒ - You got it wrong, Pa!" I sat and clutched a note that could be cleaner - Three roubles that Iíd need for drink next day - My arms around my shabby concertina; They only got me here so I could play. My neighbour sunk another flask And bit by bit became a shark; "Why donít you sing to us?" he barked; "You drank your fill, you!" Then I was grabbed on either side By two enormous ugly guys: "Play, bastard, sing to us", they cried, "Before we kill you!" The drunken shindig reached its wildest phase then And in the dark they groped and kissed the bride; And I sang songs about the good old days when I drove a mail coach through the countryside. They next served soup with fish to sup And meat in aspic by the tub, Then caught the groom and beat him up Till he was reeling. They started dancing in the barn, Then fought but didnít mean much harm And killed off any trace of charm Or finer feeling. And in my corner I groaned like a bittern And wondered who Iíd tipple with next day From all the drunks with whom I then was sitting; My hands were on my haunches as I brayed. Itís always calm the following day, Thereís plenty left for those who stay To chase the hangover away; Thereís piles of food there. And no one ever stamps or bawls; The little dog stays in the hall; The stove works well, ash-pan and all, With tiles of blue there. But round at mine in perfect sunny weather My gullet burns and in my heart thereís rain. I drink well water putting back together My concertina while the wife complains.
© Margaret & Stas Porokhnya. Translation, 2007