Song of a Common Ant (original)

My heart will love in vain, but won’t be idle.
Just think of this: an ordinary ant
wished suddenly to bow before an idol,
to yield to someone’s power to enchant!

His peace was lost, his fantasy was baited,
and nothing seemed to be worthwhile or whole;
and for himself a Goddess he created
in his own image, after his own soul.

And on the Sabbath, in a certain moment,
a flash among the twinkling lights, she came
without an herald angel or an omen,
a lightish jacket covering her frame.

And then, forgetting all his mirth and mournings,
he opened wide the doors to his abode
and many times he kissed her weather-worn hands
and her old slippers, battered by the road.

And there their shadows swayed upon the portal
as they conversed, though saying not a word,
as beautiful and wise as gods immortal,
as sad as dwellers of this mortal world.

—Bulat Okudzhava (1959); translation mine

An Omen (original)

If a raven's in the sky,
'Tis a sign that war is nigh.
If it is allowed to fly,
All must go to fight and die.

For the war to be deterred
We must slay the evil bird.
For the bird to be undone
Everyone must load a gun.

Once the loading has begun,
Who'll not want to fire his gun?
Once the bullets start to fly,
None will stop to ask us why.

They will find a place to go,
They will heed nobody's woe,
They will spare no friend or foe,
Till no eye is left aglow,
Till no blood is left to flow.

Till no blood is left to shed,
Till all flesh has got the lead,
Save that raven overhead,
No one's left to shoot it dead.

—Bulat Okudzhava (1986);
translation mine

Created and maintained by Ivan A Derzhanski.
Last modified: 13 January 2015.