"I dreamed I already…
By Yevgeny Yevtushenko, 1967
I dreamed I already loved you.
I dreamed I already killed you.
But you rose again; another form, but you,
a girl on the little ball of the earth,
naive simplicity, curve-necked
on that early canvas of Picasso,
and prayed to me with your ribs:
“Love me,” as though you said, “Don’t push me off.”
I’m that played-out, grown-up acrobat
hunchbacked with senseless muscles
who knows that advice is a lie,
that sooner or later there’s falling.
I’m too scared to say: “I love you,”
because I’d be saying: “I’ll kill you.”
For in the depths of a face I can see through
I see the faces — can’t count them —
that, right on the spot, or maybe
not right away, I tortured to death.
You’re pale from the mortal balance. You say:
“I know everything; I was all of them.
I know you’ve already loved me.
I know you’ve already killed me.
But I won’t spin the globe backwards:
Love again, and then kill again.”
Lord, you’re young. Stop your globe.
I’m tired of killing. I’m not a damn thing but old.
You move the earth beneath your little feet,
you fall, “Love me.”
It’s only in those eyes, so similar, you say:
“This time don’t kill me!”
No people are uninteresting.
Their destinies are like histories of planets.
Nothing in them is not particular,
and no planet is like another.
And if someone lives in obscurity,
befriending that obscurity,
he is interesting to people
by his very obscurity.
Everyone has his own secret, private world.
In that world is a finest moment.
In that world is a tragic hour,
but it all is unknown to us.
And if someone dies
there dies with him his first snow,
and first kiss, and first fight.
He takes it all with him.
Yes, books and bridges remain,
and painted canvas and machinery,
yes, much is sentenced to remain,
but something really departs all the same!
Such is the law of the pitiless game.
It’s not people who die, but worlds.
We remember people, sinful and earthly.
But what did we know, in essence, about them?
What do we know of brothers, of friends?
What do we know of our one and only?
And about our own fathers,
knowing everything, we know nothing.
They perish. They cannot be brought back.
Their secret worlds are not regenerated.
And every time I want again
to cry out against the unretrievableness.
— Yevgeny Yevtushenko, "No people are…", 1961
(Translated by Albert C. Todd)
Yevtushenko: The Collected Poems, 1952-1990