W. H. Auden. O What Is That Sound. Translated by Elena Tverskaya

Also in Translations:

4. American-Civil-War. Union soldiers in the trenches before the Battle of Petersburg, Virginia, June 9, 1864.
American-Civil-War. Union soldiers in the trenches before the Battle of Petersburg, Virginia, June 9, 1864.
W. H. Auden. O What Is That Sound. Translated by Elena Tverskaya


O what is that sound which so thrills the ear

Down in the valley drumming, drumming?

Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,

The soldiers coming.


O what is that light I see flashing so clear

Over the distance brightly, brightly?

Only the sun on their weapons, dear,

As they step lightly.


O what are they doing with all that gear,

What are they doing this morning, this morning?

Only their usual manoeuvres, dear.

Or perhaps a warning.


O why have they left the road down there,

Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?

Perhaps a change in their orders, dear.

Why are you kneeling?


O haven’t they stopped for the doctor’s care,

Haven’t they reined their horses, their horses?

Why, they are none of them wounded, dear.

None of these forces.


O is it the parson they want, with white hair,

Is it the parson, is it, is it?

No, they are passing his gateway, dear,

Without a visit.


O it must be the farmer who lives so near.

It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?

They have passed the farmyard already, dear,

And now they are running.


O where are you going? Stay with me here!

Were the vows you swore deceiving, deceiving?

No, I promised to love you, dear,

But I must be leaving.


O it’s broken the lock and splintered the door,

O it’s the gate where they’re turning, turning;

Their boots are heavy on the floor

And their eyes are burning.

* * *
О, что там слышен за дробный звук,

Будто бы грома раскаты, раскаты?

– Это солдаты идут, мой друг,

Идут солдаты.


О, что это там засверкало вдруг?

Издалека этот блеск так ярок!

– Солнце на ружьях блестит, мой друг,

Свет его жарок.


О, что же они собрались вокруг,

Что же им надо тут в воскресенье?

– Может, маневры идут, мой друг,

Или ученья.


О, отчего они, сделав круг,

К нашей свернули дороге, дороге?

– Может, команда была, мой друг,

Что ты в тревоге?


О, у кого-то из них недуг,

Нужен им доктор? Их кони встали?

– Нет, там никто не ранен, мой друг,

Даже и не устали.


О, может, чей-нибудь болен дух,

Нужен наш пастор им, верно? верно?

– Нет, они церковь прошли, мой друг,

Топая мерно.


О, значит, им нужен сосед наш, пастух,

Это к нему они, я же вижу!

– Нет, они мимо прошли, мой друг,

И уже все ближе.


О, но куда же ты? Наших рук

Не разнимать ты мне клялся адом!

– Нет, я любить обещал, мой друг,

Но идти мне надо.


Сломаны двери, и выбит замок,

Больше запорам держать нет мочи;

О, их шаги тяжелы, как рок,

И горят их очи.


About the Author:

W.H. Аudеn

W.H. Аudеn (1907 – 1973) was an Anglo-American poet. He was born in Great Britain, and in 1939 moved to the United States and became an American citizen. Aiden is considered one of the greatest poets of the English language.

About the Translator:

Elena Tverskaya
Palo Alto, CA

Elena Tverskaya was born in Moscow. She has published three collections of poems, her poems appeared in Russian-language journals, such as “Kreshchatik”, “Interppoezia,” “Vovyi Bereg,” and “Novy Review”. Her Auden translations are included in two anthologies, “Century of Translation” and “Seven Centuries of English Poetry,” edited by Eugene Vitkovsky. Her fourth book of poems and a collection of poems for children, “The Pelican Bird,” are forthcoming She lives in California.

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