To My Friends – Alexander Blok
To My Friends
We’re inwardly seething with envy
We’re hostile and deaf to each other,
If we could but banish this hatred
That goes on for ever and ever!
But what can we do? Each has poisoned
His house till it’s beyond human aid.
The walls are all dripping with venom,
There’s nowhere to lay down one’s head.
So what can we do? Disenchanted,
We laugh till our sanity is gone,
And, drunk, in the street, we stand watching
Our houses crash down to the ground.
We’re traitors in life and in friendship,
We squander our words without sense,
But what can we do? For we’re clearing
The way for our yet unborn sons.
When, under some fence in the nettles,
My own wretched bones lie a-rotting,
Some future historian will accomplish
A prodigious exploit of writing…
And all to inflict cruel torments
On kids who’ve not done any harm
With dates (birth and death) and revolting
Quotations as long as your arm.
A pitiful fate – all one’s lifetime
To experience heaven and hell,
Then be a dull lecturer’s victim
And spawn other critics as well…
Plunge into fresh weeds by the wayside,
Let total oblivion fall ;
Be silent, you volumes, confound you –
I just didn’t write you at all !
24 July 1908
Translated by Alex Miller (1981)