Sunday, April 03, 2005

I Would Like

I Would Like by Yegnenyi Yevtushenko

I would like
to be born
in every country,have a passport for them all to throw all foreign offices into panic, be every fish in every ocean and every dog in the streets of the world. I don’t want to bow down before any idols or play at being a Russian Orthodox church hippie, but I would like to plunge deep into Lake Baikal and surface snorting somewhere, why not in the Mississippi? In my damned beloved universe I would like to be a lonely weed, but not a delicate Narcissus kissing his own mug in the mirror. I would like to be any of God’s creatures right down to the last mangy hyena--but never a tyrant or even the cat of a tyrant. I would like to be reincarnated as a man in any image: a victim of prison tortures, a homeless child in the slums of Hong Kong, a living skeleton in Bangladesh, a holy beggar in Tibet, a black in Cape Town, but never in the image of Rambo. The only people whom I hate are the hypocrites--pickled hyenas in heavy syrup. I would like to lie under the knives of all the surgeons in the world, be hunchbacked, blind, suffer all kinds of diseases, wounds and scars, be a victim of war, or a sweeper of cigarette butts, just so a filthy microbe of superiority doesn’t creep inside. I would not like to be in the elite, nor, of course, in the cowardly herd, nor be a guard dog of that herd, nor a shepherd, sheltered by that herd. And I would like happiness, but not at the expense of the unhappy, and I would like freedom, but not at the expense of the unfree. I would like to love all the women in the world, and I would like to be a woman, too-- just once...Men have been diminished by Mother Nature. Why couldn’t we give motherhood to men? If an innocent child stirred below his heart, man would probably not be so cruel. I would like to be man’s daily bread--say, a cup of rice for a Vietnamese woman in mourning, cheap wine in a Neapolitan workers’ trattoria, or a tiny tube of cheese in orbit round the moon. Let them eat me, let them drink me, only let my death be of some use. I would like to belong to all times, shock all history so much that it would be amazed what a smart aleck I was. I would like to bring Nefertiti to Pushkin in a troika. I would like to increase the space of a moment a hundredfold, so that in the same moment I could drink vodka with fishermen in Siberia and sit together with Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy, drinking anything, except, of course, Coca-Cola,--dance to the tom-toms in the Congo,--strike at Renault,--chase a ball with Brazilian boys at Copacabana Beach. I would like to know every language, like the secret waters under the earth, and do all kinds of work at once. I would make sure that one Yevtushenko was merely a poet, the second--an underground fighter somewhere,I couldn’t say where for security reasons, the third--a student at Berkeley, the fourth--a jolly Georgian drinker, and the fifth-- maybe a teacher of Eskimo children in Alaska, the sixth-- a young president, somewhere, say, modestly speaking, in Sierra Leone,the seventh-- would still be shaking a rattle in his stroller, and the tenth... the hundredth... the millionth...For me it’s not enough to be myself, let me be everyone! Every creature usually has a double, but God was stingy with the carbon paper, and in his Paradise Publishing Corporation made a unique copy of me. But I shall muddle up all God’s cards-- I shall confound God! I shall be in a thousand copies to the end of my days,so that the earth buzzes with me, and computers go berserk in the world census of me. I would like to fight on all your barricades, humanity,dying each night like an exhausted moon,and resurrecting each morning like a newborn sun, with an immortal soft spot--fontanel-- on my head. And when I die, a smart-aleck Siberian Francois Villon, do not lay me in the earth of France or Italy, but in our Russian, Siberian earth, on a still-green hill, where I first felt that I was everyone.


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