Natalya Gorbanyevskaya



And there is nothing at all–--neither fear


And there is nothing at all--–neither fear,
nor a stiffening before the executioner.
I lay my head upon the hollowed block,
as on a casual lover's shoulder.

Roll, curly head, over the planed boards,
mind you don't get a splinter in your parted lips–
the boards bruise your temples, the trumpets
sound solemnly in your ears;

the polished copper dazzles you,
the horses' manes toss–
O, what a day to die on!

Another day dawns sunless,

and in the semidark–either
through sleepiness, some ancient madness,
or new apocrypha–my lover's shoulder
still smells to me of pine shavings.


                  Russian; trans. David Weissbort


Natalya Gorbanyevskaya, Russian, trans. David Weissbort,
Post-War Russian Poetry, Penguin Books Ltd., 1974.