Talking With The Taxman About Poetry - Vladimir Ma
- Billy Bragg
Bragg BillyTalking With Taxman About PoetryTalking With The Taxman About Poetry - Vladimir Ma[Translated from the Russian by Peter Tempest] ----------------------------------------------Sorry to bother you, Citizen taxman!No thanks... Don't worry... I'd rather stand.I've come to see you on a delicate matter;the place of the poet in a worker's land.Along with storekeepers and land usersI'm taxable too, and am bound by the law.Your demand for the half-year is 500 roubles,and for not filling forms - 25 more.My labour's no different from any other labour.Examine these figures of loss and gain,the production costs I have been facing,the raw material I had to obtain.With the notion of "rhyme" you're acquainted, of course?When a line of ours ends with a word like "plum"in the next line but one we repeat the syllablewith some other word that goes "tiddle-ti-tum".A rhyme is an IOU, as you'd put it."Pay two lines later" is the regulation.So you seek the small charge of inflexion,suffixin the depleted till of declensions, conjugations.You shove a word into a line of poetrybut it just won't go - you push it and it snaps.Upon my honour, Citizen taxman,words cost poets a pretty penny in cash.As we poets see it, a barrel the rhyme is,a barrel of dynamite, the fuse is each line.The line starts smoking, exploding the line is,and the stanza blows a city sky-high.Where to find rhymes, in what tariff list,that hit the bull's eye with never a failure?Maybe a handful of them still existfaraway somewhere in Venezuela.I have to scour freezing and tropical climes.I flounder in debt, I get advance payments.My travel expenses bear in mind.Poetry - all poetry - is an exploration.Poetry is just like mining radium.To gain just a gram you must labour a year.Tons of lexicon ore excavatingall for the sake of one precious word,But how searing the heat of this word isalongside the smouldering heap of waste.There are the words that go rousing,stirringmillions of hearts from age to age.Of course, there are different brands of poet.Famed for sleight of hand are quite a few.Verses they pull, like a conjuror, boldlyout of their own mouths - and others' too.What can one say of the poetry eunuchs?They write stolen lines in - not turning a hair.Thieving like that is nothing unusualin a country where thieves are enough and to spare.These contemporary odes ans verseswhich with rapt ovations audiences greetwill go down in history as overhead chargesfor the achievements of a few of us - two or three.It takes quite a time, to get to know people,smoke many a packets of cigarettestill you raise that wonderful word you're needingfrom the deep artesian folk wells.straightaway the rate of tax grows less.Knock that wheel-zero of the total due.I pay one rouble 90 for a hundred cigarettesand one rouble 60 for the salt I consume.I see your form there's a host of questions:"travelled abroad? Or spent all the time here?"What if I've run down a dozen Pegasusesin the course of these fifteen years?!You want to know how many servants I'm keeping,what houses? My special casee please observe:where do I stand if I lead peopleand simultaneously the people serve?The class speaks with the words we utterand we proletarians push the pen.The soul-machine wears out, begins to splutter.They tell us: "Your place now is on the shelf."There's ever less love, less bold innovation,time strikes my forhead a running blow.There comes the most terrifying depreciation,the depreciation of heart and soul,When one day this sun shall like a fattened hog ina land rid of beggars and cripples rise,dead by the fence I'll have long been rottingalong with ten or so colleagues of mine.Drae up my posthumous balance-sheet!I tell you - upon this I'm ready to bet -unlike all the dealers and climbers you seeI'll be a unique case - hopelessly in debt.Our duty is to roar like brass-throated sirensin philistine fog and in stormy weather.Paying fines in cash and high interest on sorrow,the poet is always the Universe's debtor.And I owe a debt to the lights of Broadway,a debt to you also, Bagadady skies,to the Red Army and to Japan's cherry blossom -to all about which I had no time to write.Why did I undertake this burden?With rhyme to shoot, with metre anger to spark?Your resurrection the poet's word is,your immortality, Citizen clerk.Read any line a hundred years afterand it brings back the past, as fast as a wink,all will come back - this day with the taxmanwith a glint of magic and the reek of ink.Come,you smug dweller in the present era,buy your rail ticket to Eternity here.Calculate the impact of verse and distributeall that I earn over three hundred years!Not only in this lies the power of a poet,that it's you future generations will think about.Oh no! Today too are the rhymes of a poeta caress, a slogan, a bayonet, a knout.Five - not five hundred - roubles I'll payyou,Citizen taxman! Delete every nought!As of right I'm demanding a placewith workers and peasants of the poorest sort.But if you think all I do is just presswords other people use into my serviceComrades, come here, let me give you my penand you can yourselves write your own verses!==============================================================================transcription:Rami Zakh ([email protected]/* */)
Please consider supporting this site by
Clicking Here and Bookmarking whenever you search and shop Amazon.
It costs you nothing but it supports us and gives us credit and we appreciate it greatly.