You could talk to our captain as equal that day, Cabin boys were a match to our skipper; Tearing dressings away in a dazzling display Sailors swarmed every piece of shipís rigging. Soon the doors of our brains from their hinges were torn By the blankets of lands, by the visions of shores: That are coveted, promised, and magic, And Columbian and Magellanic. But I wonít see a shore or an island inbound: Going nine knots or more I have run hard aground! But each man has his aim, noble aim all around... I myself am to blame that I ran hard aground. So away went my vessels - my brothers, my fleet. And the sensitive ones swallowed splashes. The great voyage went on without me on my feet, Only sails were saluting with flashes. Cursing weather and fortune and everything else, My stepchildren were leaving me all by myself. Then two salvos from launch boats - good heavens! - From Columbus and one from Magellan. I am drinking the foam, for the wave does not reach; From the decks to the bottom my body is breached. And my sides are all muddy - you cannot ignore - You are welcome to study each ulcer and sore! Hereís a hole at the rib, thatís the mark of a ball, Hereís a scar from the ram, thatís a fracture. Boarding hooks ripped my spine in a buccaneers brawl When a pirate attempted my capture. My old keelís an uneven guitar fingerboard: By sharp corals Iím beaten, my belly is gored. Now Iím choking, decaying - forgotten. Sometimes even the salted gets rotten. Winds are drinking my blood through the fissures and slits; From my starboard to port I am pummeled by winds. Iím enduring strong gales from the morning till dawn. They are hammering nails in my soul all along. Like a drunkard they fouled every halyard and line, They are guests who arrived, yet unwelcomed. Wish theyíd drown themselves dead in my holds with strong wine, Or would blow me from shoals for a second! Iíve believed in all this like a hunted wild beast. The malevolent winds - they are wanted the least. For my masts are like limbs that are weakened, And my sails are the breasts of old women. There will be the eighth wonder: a generous tide Will awash my whole body, reviving my side, Will remove this dark spell by inflating my sails Like the neck veins that swelled during lengthy travails. Iíll catch up with my kin, Iíll catch up, Iíll forgive The armada that pledged to remember. And Iíll let in my crew, for I have to admit I do not hold my grudges forever. But it seems I canít get back inside your closed ranks. You jest not, old corvette, move aside to the flanks! Iím your brother, your kin, I have dodged a close call. Hear me, barque, let me in, there is water for all. How did this come about? I cannot comprehend. So, since I ran aground then my journey must end? Step aside, break the ranks, we are ships after all. There is water for us, there is land for us all, That is coveted, promised, and magic, And Columbian and Magellanic.
© Kirill Tolmachev. Translation, 2023