The Confession (Исповедь), Dmitri Kedrin

Kedrin wrote this in 1926, when he was 19. He was an enthusiast for the new Soviet state, and this deceptively simple poem appears to reflect a conformist view of religion. Like so many of his contemporaries, however, Kedrin died young and in mysterious circumstances, in 1945. The poet’s vocation was dangerous.

“So, look, my child, into my eyes
And do not hide your face.
Believe me, child, the priest espies
The hearted secret place.

Behold, your sins your soul besmirch,
To burning it is bound.
Donate some wine then to the church –
Forgiveness thus is found.”

“But I, who’ve loved the sinful juice,
When winter’s cold set in –
Have kept my sins in daily use,
Rum dribbles down my chin.

And with my darling at my side,
I’ve rinsed my mouth with it…”
“So tell your priest, you cannot hide,
The sins you did commit.”

“Around my table we have fought
About religion’s claim.
And all my sinful deeds and thought
Have rocked the building’s frame.”

“This isn’t, child, the first offence
To rip a dozen skins:
This priest has dealt with humans dense
And surfeit of their sins.

How many, though, and where and when
Have all your lovers been?
How did you kiss them and, pray, then
Where was your kisses’ scene?”

“Since then, as you’re devoid of shame,
A hundred I’ll confess.
I kissed them where – I’ll take the blame –
Your lips did never press.”

“From kisses and from drinking wine
To hell the way is straight.
So, hear me, child, as I opine:
At mine you’ll find your fate!

We’ll talk about it all at home
Your sins we will relive.
And just remember that High Rome
Allows me to forgive.”

“I’ll pray to my peculiar saint,
At mass I shall exhort,
I’ll keep a fast, I’ll show restraint
To men I won’t resort.”

“So, farewell then. It pleases me
That you will fast and pray –
For hell is where you’re heading, see,
And come will soon that day.”

“I’ll decorate the corner shrine,
A candle I shall light…
Old man, release these cords of mine,
Have pity on my plight!”

“Be silent! God forgive you then,
His cross may save you yet!”
“But first release my lips again,
Till then my sins forget!”


“Смотри, дитя, в мои глаза,
Не прячь в руках лица.
Поверь, дитя: глазам ксендза
Открыты все сердца.

Твоя душа грехом полна,
Сама в огонь летит.
Пожертвуй церкви литр вина
И бог тебя простит”.

“Но я, греховный сок любя,
Когда пришла зима –
Грехи хранила для тебя,
А ром пила сама.

С любимым лежа на боку,
Мы полоскали рты…”
“Так расскажи духовнику,
В чем согрешила ты?”

“Дебат у моего стола
Религию шатал.
Мои греховные дела
Гремят на весь квартал”.

“Проступок первый не таков,
Чтоб драть по десять шкур:
У папы много дураков
И слишком много дур.

Но сколько было и когда
Любовников твоих?
Как целовала и куда
Ты целовала их?”

“С тех пор, как ты лишен стыда,
Их было ровно сто.
Я целовала их туда,
Куда тебя – никто”.

“От поцелуев и вина
До ада путь прямой.
Послушай, панна, ты должна
Прийти ко мне домой!

Мы дома так поговорим,
Что будет стул трещать,
И помни, что Высокий Рим
Мне дал права прощать”.

“Я помолюсь моим святым
И мессу закажу,
Назначу пост, но к холостым
Мужчинам не хожу”.

“Тогда прощай. Я очень рад
Молитвам и постам,
Ведь ты стремишься прямо в ад
И, верно, будешь там”.

“Но я божницу уберу,
Молясь, зажгу свечу…
Пусти, старик, мою икру,
Я, право, закричу!..”

“Молчи, господь тебя прости
Своим святым крестом!..”
“Ты… прежде… губы отпусти,
А уж грехи – потом!”

Translation by Rupert Moreton

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