Seemingly I shall never grow accustomed
to sitting in the “Bristol,”
fibbing by the line.
I shall knock down the glasses,
clamber on the table:
Here you sit,
eyes drowning in tea,
velvet elbows worn with scribbling.
Raise your eyes from the unemptied glasses!
Disentangle your ears from those shaggy locks!
what has wedded you to words,
you who sit glued
Do you know
that Francois Villon,
when he had finished writing,
did a job of plundering?
who quake at the sight of a penknife,
boast yourselves the guardians of a splendid age.
what have you to write about today?
Any solicitor’s clerk finds
a hundred times more fascinating.
have you not wearied
and lilac blooms?
If such as you
are the creators,
then I spit upon all art.
I’d rather open a shop,
or work on the Stock Exchange
and bulge my sides with fat wallets.
In a tavern rear
I’ll spew up my soul
in a drunken song.
Will the blow tell,
cleave through your sheaves of hair?
But you have only one notion
under that mop of hair:
to be slick-combed! Rut why?
For a short while it’s not worth the labour,
and to be combed
Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)
Translated from the russian by George Reavey