“I’m tired of life in my own land” (“Устал я жить в родном краю”), Sergei Yesenin

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Yesenin wrote this in 1916. He was twenty. He had left his humble birthplace near Ryazan in 1912 for Moscow, and in 1915 had moved to St Petersburg. His impact on the upper middle class literary circles in which he now found himself may perhaps be gauged here. The poem expresses the frustration of the exile, accepted neither in the world he has left nor in the world he has adopted.

I’m tired of life in my own land,
The boredom of the fields’ expanses,
I’m going to quit my cabin and
Like tramp or thief I’ll take my chances.

I’ll chase the cloudy trails of day
In search of mean accommodation –
With knife in bootleg as I stray
That pal has stropped for altercation.

The curl of dusty sun-scorched road
In spring will lure me to its pleasure,
I’ll then be chased from my abode
By her whose name I’ll always treasure.

And home again, another’s cheer
May briefly consolation proffer,
And in lush night ’neath window here
My death by hanging I will offer.

And then the willows by the fence
Will gently bow their heads in weeping.
Unwashed, they’ll take my body hence
With howling hounds their watch a-keeping.

But moon its shimmering light will give
As if it rows across the reaches…
And Russia still will ever live –
With tearful dancing, she beseeches.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Устал я жить в родном краю
В тоске по гречневым просторам,
Покину хижину мою,
Уйду бродягою и вором.

Пойду по белым кудрям дня
Искать убогое жилище.
И друг любимый на меня
Наточит нож за голенище.

Весной и солнцем на лугу
Обвита желтая дорога,
И та, чье имя берегу,
Меня прогонит от порога.

И вновь вернуся в отчий дом,
Чужою радостью утешусь,
В зеленый вечер под окном
На рукаве своем повешусь.

Седые вербы у плетня
Нежнее головы наклонят.
И необмытого меня
Под лай собачий похоронят.

А месяц будет плыть и плыть,
Роняя весла по озерам…
И Русь все так же будет жить,
Плясать и плакать у забора.

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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