Driving through the woods, I was slightly gone. A felt fine and strong As I sang a song. And the song I sang Wasn’t deep or wise - Of how fond I was Of those big dark eyes... And my horses would trot, then start off on a race; Hoofs kicked up the slime, and it hit my face. I would swallow the slime and the droplets of rain, Break a fresh bottle’s neck, and start singing again: "Ah, those big dark eyes, How I loved those eyes..." But I finished soon All of my supplies. Then I shook my head To drive off the cloud, And I looked around - And I whistled loud: For the forest ahead was a blank solid wall. My wild horses kept shying, and trying to turn. There was no glade or road, not a damn thing at all, Needles pricking my skin, right through to the bone. Giddup, thill-horse, brother, Let’s get out of here! What on earth, bay - why Are you backing, dear? Drops of rain off trees Of some poison reeked. My outrunner! Wolves By its belly streaked. Oh you drunken old fool, damn your stinking red eyes! You will not get away, not this time - understand? They have stolen an ace from my deck - such an ace That I now can do nothing but wait for the end. So I cursed the wolves: "Blast your rotten hides!" And the horses flew Like the wind, in fright. I lashed with the whip At the horses’ sides, And yelled all the time, "Oh, those big dark eyes!" Thudding hoofs, heavy snorts, and the dance of the bells - Harness bells singing tunes of the nearing end. Hey, my horses, I’ll kill you - but save me from hell! Save me, enemies, dear! And save yourselves, friends! I was stone-cold sober After that mad chase. Nearly dead, my horses Up a steep hill raced. Froth and lather fell, But we knew we’d live, As we stood there, reeling, Breathing heavily. "You have not let me down, my true horses", I said. And I bowed to the hoofs of my horses half-dead. Then I pushed off the load, led the team by the rein... Bless you, horses, God bless you! I will live again.
How much water’s flowed off the good old earth! I’ve been smashed by life - thank God, not to death. Maybe this my song wasn’t deep or wise - I had better sing of those dark big eyes.
© Sergei Roy. Translation, 1990