“Our minds are caught by lustful craving” (“Мы в неразборчивости жажды”), Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Yevtushenko with Nixon

This is an early poem, written in 1953 – the year of Stalin’s death. Perhaps the ambivalence here reflects something of the contingency of existence in an authoritarian society. Or perhaps it’s just an honest account of youthful indulgence. To get an idea of the evolution of Yevtushenko’s style, compare with “When a Man Gets to Forty” or the much later “Loss“.

Our minds are caught by lustful craving
that dominates our deeds and thought –
one day unthinking silly raving
persuades us love has tied her knot.
We only later understand that
misnamed we love, by lust confused
and what had seemed so true and good had
misled – so now we’re disabused.
But in the end it’s kindred shiver
and frank emotion’s all the same
We’re led astray and so? whatever –
sensation will us always claim.
There may be joy, there may be sadness
if ever something should occur.
At last we find that all is madness –
what matters is what feelings stir.
Мы в неразборчивости жажды,
входящей в мысли и дела,
без размышления однажды
решаем, что любовь пришла.
Мы лишь потом понять умеем,
что не любовь была дана,
и то, что нам казалось ею,
нас самом деле — не она.
Но в строчках — в строчках та же дрожь
и та же искренность волненья.
Пусть обманулись мы, но что ж! —
всегда правдиво вдохновенье.
Пусть будет радостно, пусть грустно —
лишь приходило бы оно.
Ведь важны не сами чувства,
а то, что ими рождено.
Translation by Rupert Moreton

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