THE VOICE OF THE ANCIENT TURK
I was with Tengri; where is that God, my sublime god?
Youíre not sublime, if you do not rule from above.
I had a khan, I remember; so where is my khan?
Without ruler, without faith, there can be no land..
Once was a whole world; where has my whole world gone?
Once I was an idol, now I am naked and alone.
I did not close my eye at night; it was obviously no use.
North, south, west, and east, where now are you!
I made them bow their heads; I am under a curse
I brought many to their knees, sowing fear and worse.
Or, perhaps, heavenís grace has abandoned me,
Punished, like some evil spirit, for forgetting Tengri.
I swear, I was frightened out of my wits!
How now make merry, ignoring the shits?
Iíve had enough already! Out of my way!
Iím a Turk, and cannot be diverted from my faith!
Iím a Turk, who entered the steppes to take refuge from
I feel pity for those no longer alive!
But thereís little sense even in life, if you waver.
In this life Iím no slave, but a king-player!
Iím a Turk; I shook the world in my rage,
I claimed power, even before I was born into this age.
My banners streamed, where Euphrates and Tigris lie,
It was I invented all those war-games, I!
Time and space I kept on a tight rein, I,
Ruler over all that lives, everywhere for aye!
But tell me where Iíve gone wrong? Was I a fool
To subject heaven and hell to my rule?
With their stirring inebriation, the distances challenged
And the gods held their tongue, wherever they might beÖ
Old perhaps, but my temperís hot and young,
Since I have seen so much and never been wrong!
So listen to the predictions of this old boss-man;
My dear ones, do not wait, going I remain!
Iíll still take to the field, raising the dust,
In imitation of all who are bold, and must
Know I am hungry but not greedy. Just good, clean
If the world has done with fighting, with it Iíll have
Note: Tengri is a sky god.
IN THE NEWLY ERECTED BUILDINGS OF MOSCOW
In the bottomless pit of the town,
Iím the last glimmer of truth,
With each autumn leaf-fall
I lose myself.
Battered by cars,
Bruised by buildings,
Everything here is taken care of
Individually, on its own,
Everything flees everything.
Shadows flee houses,
Reflections flee the shimmer of hoardings,
People flee people,
Only the trees
let limp leaves fall,
While hanging on to their immobility.
In the subway thereís a fearful crush,
Lining up to file into the capitalís maw:
Hopeless faces by the score.