I lived splendidly the first third, For the twenty years I was in the world - according to learning, I lived unthinkingly, but I was busy, Swam, where my eyes looked, - with the stream. I thought - there is it, the reward, - However I neither use oars, nor palms. Mosquitos, horse-flies and wasps Bloodsuckers tormented, but didnít harass me. At the beginning I heard from the riverbank shouts to help, rescuing them. They have waited, poor devils, - I lay, mad with home-made beer, senseless. If shaken at the turning, Wrapped up in the maelstrom - everything improves. I take my shoes off, put them on, I indulge seeing myself in the water - it pleases me very much. The banks fluctuate past the boat, And now I spoil my throat with mead. After a superfluous gulp Look - I am swimming not alone, - but with an old woman. And while I am astonished, The mist comes down I appeared at the hopeless place, - And the enormous old woman Guffawed right into my ear the evil beast. I shout, - I donít hear the scream, I canít say a word with fear, I donít see well, The wind rocks me... - Who is there? I hear - the answer: - I am, the Evil One! Stop making the signs of the cross and lamenting, - You wonít be saved by the holy virgin: Those, that throw away rudder and paddle, Are driven away by the Evil One - as it is usual! - In the darkness I am looking for the way, A little gulp of mead - Only a hundred gramme each time, - And she doesnít fall asleep, She strides in front of me with a heavy gait. There, she stumbles over the roots, Because of such an obesity is badly groaning. Now she has even shortness of breath, And wears out however - thither, the bad creature. Suddenly meeting us is a living, A limping, crooked one, the mug cunning. And shouts: - You are standing over the abyss, But I shall save you, my dear one, your tears I shall wipe away! - I asked: Who are you? - And she to me - I am the Crooked One, - Well, she says, I shall bring you out, - - And though I am lopsided, Twisted, squinting, - I shall bring you out. I exclaimed, pouring out: - Get me out, Crooked One! I am dependent! I shall supply you with a jug, Improving your crookedness - Only bring me out! And you mummy, daughter of a bitch, Now come on drink a little gulp - your are nervours. You forget me for some time, You are thick - in the harem you will be the first one. - And the two old women fell Beside a big bottle of mead They succumbed to dipsomania and hysterics. I am hiding behind the hummocks, I move slowly backwards straight to the banks. Quickly I rowed to the torrential current And with two strokes to the middle - oh, I am a scoundrel! You shall kick the bucket, boozed up, Two of my fates - Crooked One and Evil One! Probably after a malicious calculation And under the secret care of anybody I am a blockhead and was unlucky, And dragged along by troublemakers, in the course of the current. It appeared to me, life is a delight, Well, neither oars are needed, oh not needed - oh, I am a scoundrel! ...they moved howling away, My two fates - Crooked One and Evil One.
© Elisabeth Jelinek. Translation, 2018