A BALLAD (THESIS FOR A DOCTOR'S DEGREE)

My doc announced yesterday :
'You may have talent, though it's hidden,
your beak, however, is frost-bitten,
so stick at home on a cold day'.

The nose, eh?

As irretrievable as time,
conforming to the laws of medicine,
your nose, like that of any person,
keep growing
steadily,
with triumph!

The noses of celebrities,
of guards
and ministers of ours
grow, snoring restlessly like owls
at night, along with plants and trees.

They're cool and crooked, resembling bills,
they're squeezed in doors,
get hurt by boxers,
however, our neighbour's noses
screw into keyholes, just like drills!

(Great Gogol felt by intuition
the role they play in man's ambition.)
My friend Bukashkin who was boozy
dreamed of a nose
that grew like crazy:
above him, coming like a bore,
upsetting pans and chandeliers,
a nose
was piercing
the ceilings
and threading
floor upon the floor!

'What's that? - he thought, when out of bed.
'A sign of Judgement Day - I said -
And the inspection of the debtors!'

He was imprisoned on the 30th.

Perpetual motion of the nose!
It's long, while life is getting shorter.
At night on faces, pale as blotter,
like a black hawk, or pumping hose,
the nose absorbs us, I suppose.

They say, the Northern Eskimos
kiss one another with the nose

It hasn't caught on here, of course.

Alec Vagapov's translation

by Andrei Voznesensky

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