They are true poets, those who end their days in tragedy,
Especially when they choose well when and where.
At twenty-six, one went and stopped a bullet one fine day,
Another, hanged himself in the Angleterre.
Or you take Christ - at 33, He was a poet; He said,
"Thou shalt not kill", and generally disabused the rabble.
They nailed Him to the cross - He would be safer dead,
He would not teach or preach or stir up trouble.
Now, 37... What a gloomy date, and what a cruel
Sign - leaves me sober as a judge, that figure.
At 37, Pushkin went to fight a hopeless duel,
And Mayakovsky pulled the pistol trigger.
Letís dwell on this grim figure 37. Yes or no -
Good God would ask point-blank, and few would tarry.
Along this line some good men fell, like Byron or Rimbaud!
Today most bards slip neatly past this barrier.
The duel is delayed awhile, and sometimes never fought.
At thirty-three, oneís crucified, but slightly.
At thirty-seven, tears are sometimes shed, but blood is not,
Oneís hair turns grey, perhaps - but only lightly.
"Poets chicken out these days - their hearts are in their lyric boots!"
But patience, psychopaths and sullen ghouls!
In these days, too, the poets walk on razors barefoot,
And slash to ribbons naked hearts and souls!
A poet will stick out his neck, he will torment his heart.
Slash at his neck, this self-appointed angel!
They stick a knife in him, but he is happy to shed blood -
This man ripped up for being such a danger.
Iím sorry for you all, you hostages of fatal dates.
You are like concubines in harems longing.
Our life expectancy has grown considerably of late -
Perhaps now poets also will last longer.