Yevgeny Yevtushenko Poems
Tsars, Kings, Emperors,
sovereigns of all the earth,
have commanded many a parade,
but they could not command humor.
When Aesop, the tramp, came visiting
the palaces of eminent personages
ensconced in sleek comfort all day,
they struck him as paupers.
In houses, where hypocrites have
left the smear of their puny feet,
there Hodja-Nasr-ed-Din, with his jests,
swept clean all meanness
like a board of chessmen!
They tried to commission humor-
but humor is not to be bought!
They tried to murder humor,
but humor thumbed his nose at them! ...
Whenever the wind
drops an alder catkin into my palm,
or a cuckoo calls merrily,
with trains screaming by,
I fall to reflecting,
and struggle to grasp life’s meaning,
and, as usual, arrive
at the place where it slips from my grasp.