My friend has left for Magadan. Take off your hats; wish him the best! He went himself - Without police, without arrest1. Not because he wasnít doing well, Or ícause heís an oddball, as some tell. He simply went. I know that some will ask, "What for? Why give up everything you have? Whatís out there but labor camps galore Full of murderers, full of murderers?" He answers them, "The rumors are untruer" "Moscow has as many murderers, too", Then he packed a suitcase - only one - And left for Magadan, for Magadan. Itís not that Iím too old, you know. (The other night I jumped off a moving tram.) But Magadanís no place for mc to go, Closing chapters, forgetting who I am. Instead, Iíll sing to the sounds of my guitar Of what heíll see out there so far, Of what heís never seen before. Of Magadan, of Magadan. No guards will beat him on this trip. He went of his own free will. He volunteered to work up North, Having had of us his fill! And what has God in store for me? Perhaps to Magadan Iíll flee, And see what my old friendís about, Myself drop out!
1 The fact that the subject of this ballad chose to work in distant Magadan (the normal route there is prosecution and exile) is a particularly bitter commentary on Soviet life.
© Misha Allen. Translation, 1968