Our pirate clipper raids through oceans and seas; Still bright our pennant on the mast as ever holds! We’ve learned to hoist the sails against the breeze And plug with our bodies cracks and holes. The royal fleet is chasing us today, We are adrift - no wind is intervening... But Captain said as he would always say: “It isn’t evening yet, it isn’t evening!” The flagship took in sails and made a turn. Her portholes on the starboard spat out fire... We’re gunning back. Yes! we have smashed her stern, We hear shrieks of anguish, loud and dire! We’ll do them for - hold on and don’t you whine! To hell with leaks and blows we’re receiving! Again the Captain’s giving us a sign: “It isn’t evening yet, it isn’t evening!”
They fix binoculars on us and plainly see: We, black from smoke, endure this deadly rally! But no one will ever see that we Are chained to oars forever in the galley!
They outnumber us, we’re pitching forth and back! Save our souls! - The chances are not even! But then the Captain ordered us: “Attack! It isn’t evening yet, it isn’t evening!” Who wants to live, who’s brave, who’s not a heel - Prepare fists and pistols for a battle! And rats may quit the ship - who cares? Big deal! Without them we’ll only manage better! And, jumping, rats were praying to the Lord: “Save us from gallows, from quartering, from skinning!” But we attacked the frigate board by board - It isn’t evening yet, it isn’t evening! Now face to face, and knives to knives, and eyes to eyes... “Who’ll feed the fish?” today each one is thinking. But holding guns we cannot hold back cries - We have to leave the ship - she’s now sinking! But no! They won’t drown us at all! The sea’s our friend, so soothing and relieving... Its shoulders will save us from the fall - The Captain was quite right - it’s not yet evening!
© George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton