Listen! – V. Mayakovsky

They had an edition of Vladimir Mayakovsky’s “Listen” collection at the University of Chicago Seminary Co-op bookstore, and it reminded me I’d done my own translation of the title poem once upon a time. I will be running this as a series (I’ve finally found a use for my blog).

If they light the stars,
That means someone needs it, right?
That means someone wants them to be?
That means someone calls pearls these spitballs of light?
And, bursting his lungs
in the dust of noon,
Rushes to God,
fearing that he would be late,
kisses His sinewy hand after coming so far,
that there MUST be a star,
That he can no longer bear the torment of this starless fate!
And afterwards walks about,
but calm on the outside,
And says to someone,
“Now you’re okay?
You’re not afraid?
Listen, if they light
the stars,
that means someone must need it?
That it must be vital
that every night
above the rooftops
there glows at least one star?!

– V. Mayakovsky, 1913 (translation Tamara Vardomskaya, December 2005, revised 2012)