Treasure Island

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

(18 July 1933 / Zima Junction, Siberia)

In The Wax Museum at Hamburg


Full of blocky majesty,
arrogant, dock-tailed,
German princes glower
at the Russian communist.
All the presidents, chancellors
in their different kinds of gut-
meanness look darkly out
each his own kind,
his caste, and all their crooked
vulgarity is in that.
These are the wounders
of life. They warped it,
suffocated it, and so
they're immortalized here- or, no,
they're waxed.
In the midst of these grown fat
these greasy fools, and emaciated, malicious monsters
how did you fall,
Schiller? How about you,
Mozart? in luminous meadows;
Should have come down among deep-woods flowers.
But you're here- my old buddies,
Enemies-
the whole damned lot. The enemies' looks are trying
To kill me, but it's not so bad,
This not being liked
by Bismarck, and surely not
By Hitler. I keep looking, and gradually I see,
Among them like fatal ghosts,
the shaped, candle-stick figures
Of enemies still living. Yes. Still living.
There's one premier,
There's another one, and he's
No shining example and he's not either.
But maybe they are examples: yes,
but of the mean, the cruel, the phony...
I'd like to get them here themselves,
Into the wax museum by the scruff of the neck,
By the seat of the britches! It'd be great
To arrange 'em according to their crimes-
And let 'em be buried in wax as ugly as they are!
I tell you, the wax museum is wild
For more bums and bastards!
Me, I'm sick and tired of 'em! Sons-of-bitches
Have been lying to us too damned long!
It's time to drown 'em alive-
Right! In wax!
Let wax plaster their mouths
Shut, let it stop their hands
where they are
and let them stand
Still, still very still
And dead like good little children very still, very
Obedient.
Right here and now I'm coming out with my program
For revolution! I call on
EVERYONE! Drag 'em from their platform,
And while you're doing it, laugh and whistle
As loud as you can! Go get 'em,
People! Let's have a little more
Pure rage!
It's time to pull down all this trash
From their easy chairs
like pulling nails and being crazy
About pulling nails!
It's time, under hot bright lights,
To drag down out of their balconies
This collection of stupid faces
Like carp from scummy green pools.
It's time, it's really time at last
To get rid of junk like this! Into the wax museum
Of liars with these priests of a lousy temple!
People! SAY IT! Don't clam up!
Into the wax museum
With all heads of state
Who're headless!
And if somebody lies, even
if he does it in a new way, then
Stuff his gullet with wax!
Into the wax museum!
There's still a lot of bullshit around,
And plenty of liars... Hey,
BEES! Get off your ass!
Wax, little brothers! We need it!


Translated by James Dickey with Anthony Kahn

Submitted: Saturday, August 18, 2007
Edited: Friday, November 18, 2011

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