A Duel

Poem By Nikola Vaptsarov

We have come to close grips
you and I have locked hands,
from my heart the blood drips
and you weaken. What then?
One will be overthrown,
one will be beaten -
and you are the one.

So you doubt it? You don't feel afraid?
But I've planned every move to be made.
I'm putting my heart in the fight,
and you'll be beaten -
degenerate, venomous life.

It's not now that we're starting, you know.
Our duel began long ago.
Our duel with passion we've waged
for many long days.
For days we've locked
our arms and wrists.
I'll never forget
your brutal fist.

In the mine gas exploded.
The layers of coal
buried
fifteen men below.
Buried
fifteen
human
corpses.
One of them
was
I.

By the door of a slum
lies
a smoking
gun,
while the corpse slowly freezes.
No shouting,
no din,
one bullet
then - dirt for the bin.
It's easy as that...
No fighting.
No passion for life,
and no fuss.
Don't you know
who it was?
It
was
I.

On the rainwashed pavement
the victim lies
shot dead from an ambush.
The sky has been mined
and will crash
on the square.
But the man
lying there
in the pool of blood
is my brother -
a fire
of hatred and love
in his glassy stare.
The villain,
the loathsome
gunman
instantly
vanished from sight.
You remember the rogue?
It
was
I.

But do you remember a child that died
in Paris on the barricades,
a child
that died in battle
with gory
retrogression?
The warm blood in his veins
grew slowly
cold as steel,
and then his lips were parted
on a fleeting smile.
But though his lips turned blue,
his eyes
still burned with zeal
as it his eyes were singing:
'Liberté chérie!'

The child
lay there
shot -
in the chill grip of death.
Do you know
who it was?
It was I!
Do you remember
an engine
with gay
optimism
piercing
the fog
where even the birds
do not dare
to descend
through the mist-laden air?
An engine with wings
that cleave
the cold curtain
and change the earth's orbit,
with gasoline vapour's explosion
clearing the way toward progress.

The engine which sings high above
is the work of my hands,
and the song of my engine
is the blood of my heart.

The man whose shrewd eyes
were glued
to the wavering compass,
the man
who had dared to defy
the cold northern frost
and the mist -
do you know
who it was?
It was
I.

I am here
and there.
I am everywhere. -

A worker in Texas,
Algerian docker,
or poet...
Everywhere am I!

Do you think, life,
you'll win?
You evil and scowling,
dirty thing!

I
blaze,
you blaze,
and we're both of us
bathed in sweat.
But you're draining your strength.
Growing weaker,
declining.
That's why you're ferociously
driving your sting into me,
in the terror of imminent death
maybe...

For then
in your place,
with toil and sweat
we'll build up
together in company
a life
we desire,
a life we need,
and how fine
that life will be!

Comments about A Duel

a life we desire, and the purpose of the life.. I like it..


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