In my cups a bit, through the woods I reined, With a song to sing, didnít feel too drained. And the one I knew was an old romance: "How I cared for you, oh, the dark black eyes..." We would gallop or trot and would canter or pace. And the leader in front threw swamp muck in my face. I would swallow this peat, twist the neck of the jar, And again would repeat my romance from the start: "Oh, the dark black eyes, eyes that I adored..." But I drank, alas, all the wine I stored. Driving bliss away, I then shook my head, I myself was swayed when I looked ahead: Trees are forming a wall, they wonít let us drive in. Horses shudder and twitch and wonít move anymore. Whereís a clearing, a gap? - for I canít see a thing! Needles prick through my skin, stabbing right to my core. Will you help me, my friend? Leader, take us on track! Thatís not how it should end, why are you turning back? Pouring rain feels like blight, it wonít come to no good. The side horse on my right is attacked by a wolf. What a drunken old fool, got all wasted and wrecked. My perdition has come; to escape - thereís no chance! And the favorite ace now is gone from my deck, Such an ace that without one is certainly death! At the wolves I yell: "Damn you all to dust!" Greatest fears propel: hooves are moving fast. I abuse my whip, crack the twisted ones, But my voice wonít skip: "Oh, the dark black eyes!..." Heavy stomping and groans, ceaseless clatter and cries, Jingle bells now are playing a dance without pause. Oh, my precious steeds, I will be your demise, - Carry on, my dear friends, carry on, my old foes! Being chased I cringe; buzz is gone, it seems. Up the steepest ridge, on the creaking wheels. Flakes of foam went flying, mud was pouring on earth. We were wheezing and panting, feeling shortness of breath. On my knees before horses, I bowed to the hooves, To my faithful supporters, who saved me from wolves. Ditching all my belongings, I walked by my dray. Let God bless you, my darlings, for saving today! Many things were done, many things are gone! Life has thrown me around, yet it fumbled this one. Maybe I sang my song quite ineptly at times? The white tablecloth and the dark black eyes.
© Kirill Tolmachev. Translation, 2022