Vladimir Mayakovsky

June 15, 2012


One of my favourite poets is Vladimir Mayakovsky. He was a punk. Or was trying to be. He wrote about the street. And driven by his communist leanings tried to rid himself of bourgeoisie notions like romance and sentimentality. What poet doesn’t abhor Hallmark cards? He was in some ways like Woody Guthrie. He travelled extensively. Even wrote poetry about his journey to American. As he matured he became disillusioned with the development of communism under Stalin. At the age of 37 he put a bullet in his head.

A Cloud in Trousers
by Vladimir Mayakovsky
translated from the Russian by Andrey Kneller

Prologue

Your thought,
Fantasizing on a sodden brain,
Like a bloated lackey on a greasy couch sprawling, --
With my heart’s bloody tatters, I’ll mock it again.
Until I’m contempt, I’ll be ruthless and galling.

There’s no grandfatherly fondness in me,
There are no gray hairs in my soul!
Shaking the world with my voice and grinning,
I pass you by, -- handsome,
Twentytwoyearold.

Gentle souls!
You play your love on the violin. 
The crude ones play it on the drums violently.
But can you turn yourselves inside out, like me
And become just two lips entirely?

Come and learn--
You, decorous bureaucrats of angelic leagues! 
Step out of those cambric drawing-rooms

And you, who can leaf your lips
Like a cook turns the pages of her recipe books.

If you wish--
I’ll rage on raw meat like a vandal
Or change into hues that the sunrise arouses,
If you wish--
I can be irreproachably gentle,
Not a man -- but a cloud in trousers.

I refuse to believe in Nice1 blossoming!
I will glorify you regardless, --
Men, crumpled like bed-sheets in hospitals,
And women, battered like overused proverbs.

2 Responses to “Vladimir Mayakovsky”

  1. Amazing. Never heard of this poet before. Thanks for making him known. He was of his time and ahead of his time.

  2. “A cloud in trousers” . Never forgot that image.

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