My precious neighbour gives a feast For his respectable fat guests. His missus looks uncommon pleased - Heads for the cellar. The keys go smoothly into locks. There is enough provision stocked To feed an army round the clock - Heís rich, that feller. And I am always in some scrape or other, My crops all fail; on top of that, my cow drops dead; The chimney will not draw, so we all smother, Or else my teeth ache, and I go out of my head. My neighbourís guests are chewing meat, And all the village hears them eat, The daughter rubs her pimply tit - Sheís ripe, thatís clear. Looks like a bride-show, that whole mess, A hundred roublesí worth, I guess. The thin bridegroom sings to the guests - They only leer. And in my yard the dogs have gone quite crazy - They have stopped barking and begun to howl. My corns are worn by pacing in a frenzy, As in my empty house all night I prowl. Boy, arenít the bastards drinking fast! But then, why shouldnít they, I ask - Itís not as if it was the last Of hooch out there. And here the wife is big with child, The hungry geese cackle like wild - Itís not the geese that have me riled, Itís just not fair. The plate is crawling with all kinds of vermin, I fight them tooth and nail, but there they are again. A boil on my you know what has me squirming - Itís time to plough, and I canít move with pain. The neighbour sent his kid for me In all his generosity; Of course I wouldnít go, but he Said not to blather. A fifth he must have put away, No wonder he felt kind today... I went and drank and ate; canít say I felt much better. And in the midst of all this razzle-dazzle I whispered softly in the bridegroomís ear: It wasnít nice to sit around and guzzle - The bride was drowning in her room in tears. The neighbour then kicked up a stink: "Iím people - who are you, díyou think? Who eats not, neither shall he drink!" He yelled and slobbered. The company leaped from their seats, But here spoke up his little kid: "Who works not, neither shall he eat - That is the law, Dad!" I sat there, my last greasy rouble hoarding (Iíd need a shot or two the following day). Embracing my decrepit old accordion: Thatís what I was invited for - to play. The neighbour guzzled one more fifth And bawled and banged and spouted filth, And yelled I must sing for his kith - "Whose booze youíre suckiní?" Before I could my noodle nod, They started roughing me, the sods - "Get on, you shithead, or by God Weíll bash your mug in!" The feast was in full swing, the guests went batty, Some merry souls were feeling up the bride, And I began to sing that ancient ditty - "When I was young, I loved like mad to ride." And after that they drank again And had fat tripe and fish, and then They caught the puny bridegroom, and They slapped him silly. And then they danced till they would fall, And then there was a free-for-all; There might be good in them - that brawl Was sure to kill it. I whimpered in a corner in black sorrow, Bemoaning like a bittern my sad plight: And will I want, I thought, to drink tomorrow With any jerks that I drink with tonight? Come morning, everything is quiet, And for a while allís peace and light, Thereís booze enough to set things right. And food a-plenty. Thereís no one there to swear and rail. The puppy even wags its tail. The stove is covered with blue tile And looks so dainty. And not a thing works with me as it ought to. My soul is cloudy - now and all my life. Iím drinking by the pint ice-cold well-water, Fix my accordion - and listen to the wife.
© Sergei Roy. Translation, 1990