All the epochs, the ages, the years and so forth Every creature avoids frost and mist in his house. How come birds are heading again to the North If the birds are supposed to fly to the South? They don’t need any fame, any stateliness, Soon the ice would be out of sight; And they’ll find there their birds’ happiness As reward for a daring flight. Couldn’t we linger on in a cozy bed? What compelled us to sail through the salty sea air? We’ve not seen - it’s a pity! - the northern lights yet, It does not happen often. The lights are so rare. No noise. We feed gulls with an empty hand - They, like lightning, are sparkling around. The reward after silence we have to stand Will be certain and sure - sound. For a long time we’ve seen only white dreams, you know... Other colors and hues had been covered with ice. We’ve gone blind from the whiteness of deserts of snow, But a black strip of land will revive our eyes. Hush will vanish. The sound will fill the scene, Our weakness will soon fade away. The reward for the nights of despondency Will be lasting - the polar day! North is freedom and hope. A limitless tract. Pure snow resembles the life with no lies. Our eyes from the sockets will never be pecked, ‘Cause there are no crows to peck out the eyes. Those who went on though forecasts were ominous, Who lay not on the snow in recess - As reward for the time of their loneliness They will run across someone else!
© George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton