The earth was warm, no frost, no ice,
Bright-red were guelder-rose’s berries2.
It seemed ail wrong, when one of us
in Novodevichye3 was buried.
He did not know the signs, they say,
But simple people know the menace;
"Death goes for those of us in earnest
Who play at death, and die in play."
If that is true - relax, Vasily,
The real game is to survive.
Film it again, and don’t be silly -
Rewrite it all, and stay alive!
But, driving grown-up men to tears,
He hugged the dear earth as he bled,
And looked up, fainting, nearly dead,
Towards a guelder-rose bright-red -
It was all red, it was so near...
Death marks out but the best and pluckiest
And plucks them out, one by one.
Ah, what a man this time is gone
In outer darkness, having run
Clean out of luck in the earthly ruckus.
This year, your Razin would be shot -
You chose locations near Lake Naroch.
What was that other film, Makarych4?
There Lives a Lad - but he does not.
After a second’s hesitation
Fate angrily let loose a yell:
"Come on, let’s close in for the kill -
The fellow said he’d see in hell
All requiems and lamentations.
Him with the soul so great and warming,
And on his back a load so great,
That he might no more tempt his fate -
Drag from the warm bed in the morning!"
After a steam-bath, like all honest
Folks, clean and sober before God,
He up and died, like someone shot,
Not on the screen this time - in earnest.