I love you here and now, not secretly - for show; Iím burning in your rays - neither before nor after. I do not want the past, the future I donít know. I love you here and now, with tears and with laughter. "I loved you" is so sad, itís colder than the dead, All tenderness in me it will hamstring and kill, - Although it was the poet of poets who said, "I loved you once: that love, perhaps, is still..."1 They speak thus of the faded and the lost, Thereís pity here, a touch of condescension, As for a king long from the throne removed. There is a mild regret here for the past, A longing slightly marred by apprehension, A sort of faint distrust towards "I love." I love you here and now, without a stain or loss. This is my day and age - I shall not slash my veins! At present, during, now and in the course - The future leaves me cold, the past wonít come again. Iíll swim or wade or crawl to you - then come what may! Lugging my fetters and a heavy yoke. Cut off my head, but never make me say "I shall" after "I love", please, not even in joke. About "I shall" thereís bitterness, alas, Itís like a forgery, or some such disgrace, A hatch to use when it suits you to go, Clear poison at the bottom of the glass; A slap in honest present tenseís face, A twinge of doubt about "I love you" now. My French dream makes no sense, I struggle with each tense, The future is all wrong, and in the past I stammer. Iím pilloried, it seems, in every sense. Iím locked behind the barrier of grammar. This barrier, I guess, is worse than any fence. But we shall seek and find a way from this impasse. I love you, dear, in every blessed tense - Even the future, and the compound past!
1 This is the first line of an immortal octet by Pushkin.
© Sergei Roy. Translation, 1990