To His Beloved Self, the Author Dedicates These Verses

Vladimir Mayakovsky

Four words.
Heavy, like a punch.
"Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's – unto the Lord
                                                             what is the Lord's."

And for one
such as me,
where do I turn?
Where is my rest prepared?

Where I
an infant,
like the Great ocean,
I would stand on tiptoes like the waves,
caressing with the tides the moon.
Where shall I find a beloved,
one such as I?
Such would not fit into the tiny sky!

Oh, were I a pauper!
Like a billionaire!
What is money to the soul?
An insatiable thief is in her.
My desires' unruly horde
will not be satisfied by the gold of all the Californias.

If I am to be tongue-tied,
like Dante,
or Petrarch,
set my soul aflame for the one!
With verses direct her to turn to ash!
And my words
and my love –
a triumphal arc:
without a trace will pass through her
the lovelies of all the centuries.

Oh, were I
like the thunder,
I would moan,
embrace with my quaking the earth's decrepit monastery.
I would with all the thunder's might
roar away with the voice of a giant –
the comets will throw up their burning hands
crashing down in their loneliness.

With my eyes' light I would gnaw at the nights –
Oh, were I
lusterless like the sun!
As though I need nothing more
than to water with my shining
the earth's starved bosoms.

I will walk on,
dragging my beastly lover.
On what night,
by what Goliaths was I sired,
so giant
and so useless?


translated from the Russian by Alex Cigale