We Should Be Stingier
We should be stingier
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
breathing out and breathing in-
then, perhaps, the epic
will lie down in neat quatrains.
We have to be more generous,
louder, like the outcry 'Follow me! '
with the earth's coarse globe.
I envy the relics of space,
compressed by the word in layers,
but brevity is the sister of ineptitude
when it springs from emptiness.
Not all conciseness is priceless.
Rhymed oil cakes are stiff and brittle,
and someone's square hay,
I wouldn't eat if I were a horse.
I like hay by the armful,
with the dew still not dried out,
with red whortleberries, with mushroom caps,
clipped by a scythe.
All sentimentality with form is sloppy,
hurl the epoch into rhythm,
tear it up the way an invalid in despair
tears up his striped sailor's shirt!
Should we place in a woman's cap and dress
along with other old-fashioned rags,
the divine tatters
that we call life?
Handicraft taste is not art.
A great reader will grasp
both the charm of the absence of style
and the splendor of longeurs.
Translated by Albert C. Todd