Amid evening prayers, taper-wax on the floor, Amid old war trophies and peaceful bonfires, There lived book-children who’d never known war Aching from child’s disasters and child’s desires. Children are all frustrated By their age and state And we fought unto skinned knees, Unto mortal hate, But our mothers would patch Our clothes on time While we devoured books Going drunk on the lines. Our hair would stick to our foreheads with sweat And the sentences would sweetly suck in our throats, And the smell of the battle would dizzy us yet As it flew to us from yellowed pages and notes. And, taking a howl For warcries, we who Had never known war, Tried to comprehend true The secret of "orders", The war-chariots’ crack, The intention of borders And the meaning of "attack". And in the boiling pots of the wars of the past There is so much food for our childish brains! And in the roles of traitors and cowards we cast Our rivals and enemies within our games. And we didn’t let dry Our villains’ salt tears, And we swore to the sky To love fair maids for years, And we comforted friends And our kin loved and praised And into the roles of heroes Ourselves we all raised. But they can’t last forever, those dreams where we fled - Playtime’s short, for all around there is pain. Try now to unclasp the hands of the dead And to take up their weapons to press on again. As the sword is still warm And now yours, try it out Put on armour and know What’s this all about! Find if you are craven Or fate’s chosen one And yourself know the savour Of how true battle’s done. And when your bleeding friend falls down at your side And you’ll howl at the first loss that you ever knew, And when you’ll feel as if you have lost your own hide Because there it was him who was killed and not you - You will know that you’ve found You’ve found out, you’ve seen, You’ve marked the grinning visors For that is Death’s grin! Lies and evil - now mind How their face cruel grows And always behind Are coffins and crows! If you never ate one piece of meat from a knife If you folded your arms and looked down at life And to battle with traitors you didn’t heed the call - Then in life you’ve had nothing to do with it all! If you swallowed salt tears And kept pressing out Using your father’s sword To hack out your way If in battle’s heat You saw what’s it about - Then you read the right books When at childhood’s play!
© Tamara Vardomskaya. Translation, ?