Irina Evsa. Don’t Beg of the King. Translated by Dmitri Manin

Also in Translations:

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Abstract composition by Mark Steiner
Irina Evsa. Don’t Beg of the King. Translated by Dmitri Manin


Don’t beg of the king, don’t believe your kin,

they’ll squeal in a whiff,

that’s the way your fair land has always been:

every fifth man a thief.

Which one will rob you, what kind of scum –

what the hell do you care?

Live like a bum, feed the sparrows bread crumbs

on the bench in the square.

Be careful broadcasting someone else’s words,

be it a prankster or hypester,

because in this kindly country of yours

every third man’s a sniper.

Like a little spider he skirts the roof flirting

with the heat of July,

so the bullet would meet in a kiss the furtive

pupil of your eye.

And while you drink wine, scratch the void of your brow,

babble merrily,

a golden bullet is darting around

like a busy bee.

Lie low like grass, like spit on the floor,

like a stain on the rag,

because in this peaceful country of yours

everyone’s in the gulag,

wiretaps in lapels, microchips in the napes,

the headlines are deadly,

and the kapo on a roadside billboard waves

to you, smiling gently.
The Original
Не проси у власти, не верь родне:

сват продаст и шурин,

потому что в честной твоей стране

каждый пятый – шулер.

Кто из них твои отберет гроши,

наплевать обиде.

Будь, как бомж: сухарь воробьям кроши,

на скамейке сидя.

Стерегись вещать на чужой волне,

пранкер или хайпер,

потому что в доброй твоей стране

каждый третий – снайпер.

Он по крыше катится паучком

сквозь жару июля,

чтоб совпала с беглым твоим зрачком

в поцелуе пуля.

И пока скребешь пустоту чела,

пьешь вино, болтая,

над тобою носится, как пчела,

пуля золотая.

Затаись плевком, пузырьком на дне,

следом на газоне,

потому что в тихой твоей стране

каждый первый – в зоне,

где в затылках – чипы, “жучки” – в кашпо,

смертоносна сводка

и с билбордов машут тебе капо,

улыбаясь кротко.

About the Author:

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Irina Evsa
Kharkiv, Ukraine / Darmstadt, Germany

Irina Evsa (born 1956) is a Ukrainian poet who writes in Russian. Before the war–until Russia’s attack on Ukraine– she lived in Kharkiv; at the beginning of March 2022, she moved to Germany. She is the author of nineteen books of poems and numerous publications in magazines and newspapers. Her poems have been translated into English, Ukrainian, Serbian, Lithuanian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, and Georgian. She is a laureate of numerous poetry prizes, including the Russian Prize (2016), Voloshin Prize (2016), the prize of the Kyiv Lavry Poetry Festival (2018), and The Moscow Account prize.

About the Translator:

manin_2021 (1)
Dmitri Manin
California, USA

Dmitri Manin is a physicist, programmer, and translator of poetry. His translations from English and French into Russian have appeared in several book collections. His latest work is a complete translation of Ted Hughes’ “Crow” (Jaromír Hladík Press, 2020) and Allen Ginsberg’s “The Howl, Kaddish and Other Poems” (Podpisnie Izdaniya, 2021). Dmitri’s Russian-to-English translations have been published in journals (Cardinal Points, Delos, The Café Review, Metamorphoses, etc) and in Maria Stepanova’s “The Voice Over” (CUP, 2021). In 2017, his translation of Stepanova’s poem won the Compass Award competition. “Columns,” his new book of translations of Nikolai Zabolotsky’s poems, was published by Arc Publications in 2023 (

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