My most respected comrades of posterity! Rummaging among these days’ petrified crap, exploring the twilight of our times, you, possibly, will inquire about me too.
And, possibly, your scholars will declare, with their erudition overwhelming a swarm of problems; once there lived a certain champion of boiled water, and inveterate enemy of raw water.
Professor, take off your bicycle glasses! I myself will expound those times and myself.
I, a latrine cleaner and water carrier, by the revolution mobilized and drafted, went off to the front from the aristocratic gardens of poetry - the capricious wench She planted a delicious garden, the daughter, cottage, pond and meadow.
Myself a garden I did plant, myself with water sprinkled it. some pour their verse from water cans; others spit water from their mouth - the curly Macks, the clever jacks - but what the hell’s it all about! There’s no damming al this up - beneath the walls they mandoline: “Tara-tina, tara-tine, tw-a-n-g...” It’s no great honor, then, for my monuments to rise from such roses above the public squares, where consumption coughs, where whores, hooligans and syphilis walk.
Agitprop sticks in my teeth too, and I’d rather compose romances for you - more profit in it and more charm.
But I subdued myself, setting my heel on the throat of my own song. Listen, comrades of posterity, to the agitator the rabble-rouser.
Stifling the torrents of poetry, I’ll skip the volumes of lyrics; as one alive, I’ll address the living. I’ll join you in the far communist future, I who am no Esenin super-hero.
My verse will reach you across the peaks of ages, over the heads of governments and poets.
My verse will reach you not as an arrow in a cupid-lyred chase, not as worn penny Reaches a numismatist, not as the light of dead stars reaches you.
My verse by labor will break the mountain chain of years, and will present itself ponderous, crude, tangible, as an aqueduct, by slaves of Rome constructed, enters into our days.
When in mounds of books, where verse lies buried, you discover by chance the iron filings of lines, touch them with respect, as you would some antique yet awesome weapon.
It’s no habit of mine to caress the ear with words; a maiden’s ear curly-ringed will not crimson when flicked by smut.
In parade deploying the armies of my pages, I shall inspect the regiments in line.
Heavy as lead, my verses at attention stand, ready for death and for immortal fame.
The poems are rigid, pressing muzzle to muzzle their gaping pointed titles.
The favorite of all the armed forces the cavalry of witticisms ready to launch a wild hallooing charge, reins its chargers still, raising the pointed lances of the rhymes. and all these troops armed to the teeth, which have flashed by victoriously for twenty years, all these, to their very last page, I present to you, the planet’s proletarian.
The enemy of the massed working class is my enemy too inveterate and of long standing.
Years of trial and days of hunger ordered us to march under the red flag.
We opened each volume of Marx as we would open the shutters in our own house; but we did not have to read to make up our minds which side to join, which side to fight on.
Our dialectics were not learned from Hegel. In the roar of battle it erupted into verse, when, under fire, the bourgeois decamped as once we ourselves had fled from them. Let fame trudge after genius like an inconsolable widow to a funeral march - die then, my verse, die like a common soldier, like our men who nameless died attacking! I don’t care a spit for tons of bronze; I don’t care a spit for slimy marble. We’re men of kind, we’ll come to terms about our fame; let our common monument be socialism built in battle. Men of posterity examine the flotsam of dictionaries: out of Lethe will bob up the debris of such words as “prostitution,” “tuberculosis,” “blockade.” For you, who are now healthy and agile, the poet with the rough tongue of his posters, has licked away consumptives’ spittle. With the tail of my years behind me, I begin to resemble those monsters, excavated dinosaurs. Comrade life, let us march faster, march faster through what’s left of the five-year plan. My verse has brought me no rubles to spare: no craftsmen have made mahogany chairs for my house. In all conscience, I need nothing except a freshly laundered shirt. When I appear before the CCC of the coming bright years, by way of my Bolshevik party card, I’ll raise above the heads of a gang of self-seeking poets and rogues, all the hundred volumes of my communist-committed books.