Some things about myself I will explain - Though not too much to what you know Iím adding I was conceived in nerves, in sweat, in pain That sinful night that follows the wedding. The higher off the earth - the more it stings, The crueler and tougher are we there; I knew that soon Iíd be one of the kings, Thus I behaved quite like a royal heir. The world was mine! I never faced a fall, I wasnít beaten, I was never down. My friends and playmates served me one and all Like their fathers served the Danish crown. I didnít care much for what I said, And often I was nothing but a bully, I might be lying, might be rude or bad - My highborn comrades would obey me fully. At nights the watchmen feared our band, And time was sick with us as if with measles; I slept on skins, used as a fork my hand, And I was fond of painful, biting teases. I knew one day I would be told: "Rule!" By kismet I was from the birth date branded. With horses, harness, arms my life was full But sometimes school I also attended. I could be smiling only with lips, No one could tell if I was glad or sorry... The jester brought me up. I took his tips. Heís now dead. Amen, my poor Yorick! But I rejected when I came of age This life of pleasure, endless fun and routs. I pitied suddenly a boy - a murdered page, Since then I never tramped on fragile sprouts... I could enjoy no longer huntersí feasts, I hated these retrievers, bassets, hounds, I turned my horse away from wounded beasts And whipped the grooms - my rage had no bounds! I saw: the games we played began to look Like playing havoc with the poor nation; And late at night in a remote brook I tried to wash off daily dissipation. The more I saw - the sillier I got, I overlooked my relatives intriguing; I didnít like the century and not At all its men - so I submerged in reading. My greedy brain sucked knowledge more and more, Perceiving all: both progress and stagnation. But whatís the use in science and in law If real life is their refutation? My childhood friends were now strange to me, All ancient myths and legends lost their glamour; I tried to solve "to be or not to be?" But couldnít crack that terrible dilemma. The sea of troubles gives us no rest, Weíre slinging arrows in it as if they quench it. For an illusive answer people quest Through coals and ashes of this burning question. I heard the call of ancestors and I Went to that call, though strongly hesitating, The weight of thoughts was lifting me too high, While wings of flesh into the grave were taking. Time smelted me into the alloy that Had cooled - and right away disintegrated, And I spilled blood like others - tit for tat! I dived into revenge and into hatred. The rise before my death is but a fall! Ophelia! Decay I can not bear! Committing murder I had matched them all With whom a common grave Iíd later share.. Iím Hamlet! I despised the rule of force, I sent to hell the scepter and the throne; But scoundrels around me thought, of course, I killed my rivals just to reign alone! A genius often looks as if he raves, Right after birth death starts its quick progression... But we again a tricky answer raise And fail to find a veritable question!
© George Tokarev. Translation, 1997
Edited by Robert Titterton