Mother, let me congratulate you on
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
the birthday of your son.
You worry so much about him. Here he lies,
he earns little, his marriage was unwise,
he’s long, he’s getting thin, he hasn’t shaved.
Oh, what a miserable loving gaze!
I should congratulate you if I may
mother on your worry’s birthday.
It was from you he inherited
devotion without pity to this age
and arrogant and awkward in his faith
from you he took his faith, the Revolution.
You didn’t make him prosperous or famous,
and fearlessness is his only talent.
Open up his windows,
let in the twittering in the leafy branches,
kiss his eyes open.
Give him his notebook and his ink bottle,
give him a drink of milk and watch him go.
from Selected Poems (Penguin)