The Factory

Poem By Nikola Vaptsarov

A factory. Clouds of smoke above.
The people - simple,
the life - hard, boring.
Life with the mask and greasepaint off
is a savage dog snarling.

You must tirelessly fight,
must be tough and persist,
to extract from the teeth
of the angry,
bristling beast
a crust.

Slapping belts in the shed,
screeching shafts overhead,
and the air is so stale
you can't easily
deeply
inhale.

Not far off the spring breeze
rocks the fields, the sun calls...
Leaning skyward
the trees
shade -
the factory walls.

How unwanted,
forgotten
and strange
are the fields!

They
have thrown in the dustbin
the sky and its dreams.

For to stray for a second
or soften your heart,
is to lose to no purpose
your strong
worker's
arm.

You must shout in the clatter
and din of machines
for your words
to pass over.
the spaces between.

I shouted for years -
an eternity...
I gathered the others too shouted in chorus -
the factory,
the machinery
and the man
in the farthest
darkest corner.

This shout forged an alloy of steel
and we armoured our life with its plate.
Just try putting
a spoke on the wheel -
it's your own hand you'll break.

You, factory,
still seek to blind us
with smoke and soot
layer on layer.
In vain! For you teach us to struggle,
we'll bring
the sun
down to us here.

So many
toil-blackened
faces
under your tyranny smart,
but one heart within you tirelessly
beats with a thousand hearts.

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