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Mayakovsky_1915from Part Four

Maria! Maria! Maria!
Open up.
It’s cold out here, and the streets are scary.

No? Would you rather see me freeze,
whipped by the wind, stripped,
my skull devoid of my teeth?

Maria, look! I’m shivering! I’m shaking!
and the rain is pelting the pavement,
pelting all of us,
beggars, junkies, winos, bums,
like tears
from the eyes of the drainpipe waterfall.

And thus the rain licked our feet
all of us except for the fatsos
stuffed with goose liver
and with an apple in their mouths
riding in the back seats of expensive carriages.


Open up.
The mob is breathing down my neck.
Look, they’re attacking my eyes with hatpins!

I’m in.

Maria, I want you
to ignore whatever they say about me
I may have kissed a thousand girls
but you’re this madman’s favorite,
for I’ll gladly admit I’m a mad man,
mad about you.

Maria, I’d love it if you
and I took off all our clothes
and lay, naked and shameless,
or scared, if you prefer,
in bed.

Let me kiss you on the mouth.
On this May day come live with me
in the April of my heart.

Poets write sonnets
to the souls of their lovers,
but I am every inch a man
and I want your body as much as
a devout Christian beseeches the Lord
to “give us this day our daily bread.”

I confess I’m afraid I’ll forget your name
as a poet is afraid he’ll forget le mot juste
which he has looked for all his life,
the word born in a night to perish in a night,
while the soul glowed in rays of light.

I promise you I will love your body
as much as a wounded veteran loves
his one remaining leg.

No? Why no?
But you say no.


So once again I’ll have to carry my heart away
as a dog nurses the paw that was crushed by a train.

— English version by David Lehman

[click here for a section from part II of “The Cloud in Trousers”]

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