Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Rookie (18 July 1933 / Zima Junction, Siberia)

Prologue - Poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

I’m many-sided.
I’m overworked,
and idle too.
I have a goal
and yet I’m aimless.
I don’t, all of me, fit in;
I’m awkward,
shy and rude,
nasty and good-natured.
I love it,
when one thing follows another
and so much of everything is mixed in me:
from west to east,
from envy to delight.
I know, you’ll ask:
'What about the overall goal? '
There’s tremendous value in this all!
I’m indispensable to you!
I’m heaped as high
as a truck with fresh-mown hay!
I fly through voices,
through branches,
light and chirping,
and butterflies flutter in my eyes,
and hay pushes out of cracks.
I greet all movement! Ardor,
and eagerness, triumphant eagerness!
Frontiers are in my way.
It is embarrassing
for me not to know Buenos Aires and New York.
I want to walk at will
through London,
and talk with everyone,
even in broken English.
I want to ride
through Paris in the morning,
hanging on to a bus like a boy.
I want art to be
as diverse as myself;
and what if art be my torment
and harass me
on every side,
I am already by art besieged.
I’ve seen myself in every everything:
I feel kin to Yesenin
and Walt Whitman,
to Mussorgsky grasping the whole stage,
and Gauguin’s pure virgin line.
I like
to use my skates in winter,
and, scribbling with a pen,
spend sleepless nights.
I like
to defy an enemy to his face,
and bear a woman across a stream.
I bite into books, and carry firewood,
seek something vague,
and in the August heat I love to crunch
cool scarlet slices of watermelon.
I sing and drink,
giving no thought to death;
with arms outspread
I fall upon the grass,
and if, in this wide world, I come to die,
then it’s certain to be
from sheer joy that I live.

Translated by George Reavey (revised)

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, August 18, 2007

Poem Edited: Friday, November 18, 2011

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