Do Not Believe

Do not believe, my dearest, when I say
That I no longer love you.
When the tide ebbs do not believe the sea -
It will return anew.

Already I long for you, and passion fills me,
I yield my freedom thus to you once more.
Already the waves return with shouts and glee
To fill again that same belovèd shore.
Alexey Tolstoy
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Autumn

Autumn 'tis! Our garden stands
Flowerless and bare,
Dizzy whirling yellow leaves
Fill the wind swept air.
Yet the distant mountain ash
In the vale below,
With our favorite berries red
Now begins to glow.
While with rapture and with pain
Throbbing in my breast,
Pressing hot thy hands in mine,
Silent, unexpressed--
Fondly gazing in thine eyes,
Through my tears I see--
That I can never tell thee
How dear thou art to me!
Alexey Tolstoy
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Conversation with Comrade Lenin

Awhirl with events,
packed with jobs one too many,
the day slowly sinks
as the night shadows fall.
There are two in the room:
I
and Lenin-
a photograph
on the whiteness of wall.

The stubble slides upward
above his lip
as his mouth
jerks open in speech.
The tense
creases of brow
hold thought
in their grip,
immense brow
matched by thought immense.
A forest of flags,
raised-up hands thick as grass...
Thousands are marching
beneath him...
Transported,
alight with joy,
I rise from my place,
eager to see him,
hail him,
report to him!
“Comrade Lenin,
I report to you -
(not a dictate of office,
the heart’s prompting alone)

This hellish work
that we’re out to do

will be done
and is already being done.
We feed and we clothe
and give light to the needy,

the quotas
for coal
and for iron
fulfill,
but there is
any amount
of bleeding
muck
and rubbish
around us still.

Without you,
there’s many
have got out of hand,

all the sparring
and squabbling
does one in.
There’s scum
in plenty
hounding our land,

outside the borders
and also
within.

Try to
count ’em
and
tab ’em -
it’s no go,

there’s all kinds,
and they’re
thick as nettles:
kulaks,
red tapists,
and,
down the row,
drunkards,
sectarians,
lickspittles.
They strut around
proudly
as peacocks,
badges and fountain pens
studding their chests.
We’ll lick the lot of ’em-
but
to lick ’em
is no easy job
at the very best.
On snow-covered lands
and on stubbly fields,
in smoky plants
and on factory sites,
with you in our hearts,
Comrade Lenin,
we build,
we think,
we breathe,
we live,
and we fight!”
Awhirl with events,
packed with jobs one too many,
the day slowly sinks
as the night shadows fall.
There are two in the room:
I
and Lenin -
a photograph
on the whiteness of wall.
Vladimir Mayakovsky
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Back Home

Thoughts, go your way home.
Embrace,
depths of the soul and the sea.
In my view,
it is
stupid
to be
always serene.
My cabin is the worst
of all cabins -
All night above me
Thuds a smithy of feet.
All night,
stirring the ceiling’s calm,
dancers stampede
to a moaning motif:
“Marquita,
Marquita,
Marquita my darling,
why won’t you,
Marquita,
why won’t you love me …”
But why
Should marquita love me?!
I have
no francs to spare.
And Marquita
(at the slightest wink!)
for a hundred francs
she’d be brought to your room.
The sum’s not large -
just live for show -
No,
you highbrow,
ruffling your matted hair,
you would thrust upon her
a sewing machine,
in stitches
scribbling
the silk of verse.
Proletarians
arrive at communism
from below -
by the low way of mines,
sickles,
and pitchforks -
But I,
from poetry’s skies,
plunge into communism,
because
without it
I feel no love.
Whether
I’m self-exiled
or sent to mamma -
the steel of words corrodes,
the brass of the brass tarnishes.
Why,
beneath foreign rains,
must I soak,
rot,
and rust?
Here I recline,
having gone oversea,
in my idleness
barely moving
my machine parts.
I myself
feel like a Soviet
factory,
manufacturing happiness.
I object
to being torn up,
like a flower of the fields,
after a long day’s work.
I want
the Gosplan to sweat
in debate,
assignning me
goals a year ahead.
I want
a commissar
with a decree
to lean over the thought of the age.
I want
the heart to earn
its love wage
at a specialist’s rate.
I want
the factory committee
to lock
My lips
when the work is done.
I want
the pen to be on a par
with the bayonet;
and Stalin
to deliver his Politbureau
reports
about verse in the making
as he would about pig iron
and the smelting of steel.
“That’s how it is,
the way it goes …
We’ve attained
the topmost level,
climbing from the workers’ bunks:
in the Union
of Republics
the understanding of verse
now tops
the prewar norm …”
Vladimir Mayakovsky
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Attitude to a Miss

That night was to decide
if she and I
were to be lovers.
Under cover
of darkness
no one would see, you see.
I bent over her, it’s the truth,
and as I did,
it’s the truth, I swear it,
I said
like a kindly parent:
“Passion’s a precipice –
so won’t you please
move away?
Move away,
please!”
Vladimir Mayakovsky
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Call To Account!

The drum of war thunders and thunders.
It calls: thrust iron into the living.
From every country
slave after slave
are thrown onto bayonet steel.
For the sake of what?
The earth shivers
hungry
and stripped.
Mankind is vapourised in a blood bath
only so
someone
somewhere
can get hold of Albania.
Human gangs bound in malice,
blow after blow strikes the world
only for
someone’s vessels
to pass without charge
through the Bosporus.
Soon
the world
won’t have a rib intact.
And its soul will be pulled out.
And trampled down
only for someone,
to lay
their hands on
Mesopotamia.
Why does
a boot
crush the Earth — fissured and rough?
What is above the battles’ sky -
Freedom?
God?
Money!
When will you stand to your full height,
you,
giving them your life?
When will you hurl a question to their faces:
Why are we fighting?
Vladimir Mayakovsky
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Our March

Beat the squares with the tramp of rebels!
Higher, rangers of haughty heads!
We'll wash the world with a second deluge,
Now’s the hour whose coming it dreads.
Too slow, the wagon of years,
The oxen of days — too glum.
Our god is the god of speed,
Our heart — our battle drum.
Is there a gold diviner than ours/
What wasp of a bullet us can sting?
Songs are our weapons, our power of powers,
Our gold — our voices — just hear us sing!
Meadow, lie green on the earth!
With silk our days for us line!
Rainbow, give color and girth
To the fleet-foot steeds of time.
The heavens grudge us their starry glamour.
Bah! Without it our songs can thrive.
Hey there, Ursus Major, clamour
For us to be taken to heaven alive!
Sing, of delight drink deep,
Drain spring by cups, not by thimbles.
Heart step up your beat!
Our breasts be the brass of cymbals.
Vladimir Mayakovsky
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But I was born for peaceful roaming

“55 But I was born for peaceful roaming, For country calm and lack of strife; My lyre sings! And in the gloaming My fertile fancies spring to life. I give myself to harmless pleasures And far niente rules my leisures: Each morning early I’m awake To wander by the lonely lake Or seek some other sweet employment: I read a little, often sleep, For fleeting fame I do not weep. And was it not in past enjoyment Of shaded, idle times like this, I spent my days of deepest bliss?”
Alexander Pushkin
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