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! ...
The woman walked past Execution Block
on Red Square
carrying rolls of toilet paper,
twenty at least,
not in her arms,
but on twine hanging from her neck.
These are the necklaces of Mother Russia today!
And this woman-
my God! -was almost proud,