i would like (y. yevtushenko)

I would like
to be born
in every country,
have a passport
for them all to throw
all foreign offices
into panic,
be every fish
in every ocean
and every dog
in the streets of the world.
I don’t want to bow down
before any idols
or play at being
a Russian Orthodox church hippie,
but I would like to plunge
deep into Lake Baikal
and surface snorting
why not in the Mississippi?
In my damned beloved universe
I would like to be a lonely weed,
but not a delicate Narcissus
kissing his own mug
in the mirror.
I would like to be
any of God’s creatures
right down to the last mangy hyena—
but never a tyrant
or even the cat of a tyrant.
I would like to be
reincarnated as a man
in any image:
a victim of prison tortures,
a homeless child in the slums of Hong Kong,
a living skeleton in Bangladesh,
a holy beggar in Tibet,
a black in Cape Town,
but never
in the image of Rambo.
The only people whom I hate
are the hypocrites—
pickled hyenas
in heavy syrup.
I would like to lie
under the knives of all the surgeons in the world,
be hunchbacked, blind,
suffer all kinds of diseases,
wounds and scars,
be a victim of war,
or a sweeper of cigarette butts,
just so a filthy microbe of superiority
doesn’t creep inside.
I would not like to be in the elite,
nor, of course,
in the cowardly herd,
nor be a guard dog of that herd,
nor a shepherd,
sheltered by that herd.
And I would like happiness,
but not at the expense of the unhappy,
and I would like freedom,
but not at the expense of the unfree.
I would like to love
all the women in the world,
and I would like to be a woman, too–
just once…
Men have been diminished
by Mother Nature.
Why couldn’t we give motherhood
to men? If an innocent child
below his heart,
man would probably
not be so cruel.
I would like to be man’s daily bread—
a cup of rice
for a Vietnamese woman in mourning,
cheap wine
in a Neapolitan workers’ trattoria,
or a tiny tube of cheese
in orbit round the moon.
Let them eat me,
let them drink me,
only let my death
be of some use.
I would like to belong to all times,
shock all history so much
that it would be amazed
what a smart aleck I was.
I would like to bring Nefertiti
to Pushkin in a troika.
I would like to increase
the space of a moment
a hundredfold,
so that in the same moment
I could drink vodka with fishermen in Siberia
and sit together with
and Tolstoy,
drinking anything,
except, of course,
–dance to the tom-toms in the Congo,
–strike at Renault,
–chase a ball with Brazilian boys
at Copacabana Beach.
I would like to know every language,
like the secret waters under the earth,
and do all kinds of work at once.
I would make sure that one Yevtushenko was merely a poet,
the second–an underground fighter
I couldn’t say where
for security reasons,
the third–a student at Berkeley,
the fourth–a jolly Georgian drinker,
and the fifth–
maybe a teacher of Eskimo children in Alaska,
the sixth–
a young president,
somewhere, say, modestly speaking, in Sierra Leone,
the seventh–
would still be shaking a rattle in his stroller,
and the tenth…
the hundredth…
the millionth…
For me it’s not enough to be myself,
let me be everyone!
Every creature
usually has a double,
but God was stingy
with the carbon paper,
and in his Paradise Publishing Corporation
made a unique copy of me.
But I shall muddle up
all God’s cards–
I shall confound God!
I shall be in a thousand copies to the end of my days,
so that the earth buzzes with me,
and computers go berserk
in the world census of me.
I would like to fight on all your barricades,
dying each night
like an exhausted moon,
and resurrecting each morning
like a newborn sun,
with an immortal soft spot–fontanel–
on my head.
And when I die,
a smart-aleck Siberian Francois Villon,
do not lay me in the earth
of France
or Italy,
but in our Russian, Siberian earth,
on a still-green hill,
where I first felt
that I was

[yevgeny yevtushenko], 1972.

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