Demise, demise, demise. My kinda singer.

Vladimir Vysotsky was a poet, a singer, and an actor. He was one of Russia’s two bards, the other being Alexander Pushkin, the poet who is credited with reshaping the language itself. When Vysotsky died, the Soviets hoped his fame would too, but millions of people showed up at his funeral that night–this in a time before the internet or cell phones. Vysotsky, really, has never died.

Skip to the 29th second to start:

Stubborn Horses

On the precipice, right on the very edge of the abyss, on the very, very edge,
I lash at my horses with my whip, I drive them on–
But the air grows too thin for me, I drink wind, I swallow fog–
I sense with fatal ecstasy: I’m disappearing! I’m disappearing!

A little slower, horses! A little slower!
Don’t obey the stupid whip.
But the horses that were my lot, they’re so stubborn,
And I haven’t managed to finish living, I haven’t finished singing–

And I’ll give the horses water,
And I’ll finish singing this verse–
Just give me a last moment on the brink.

We’ve arrived. Guests don’t come late to God.
But why are the angels singing with such fiendish voices,
Or is it the bell ringing with sobs,
Or is it me, crying for the horses to stop pulling this sleigh so fast?

A little slower, horses! A little slower!
I implore you: gallop, don’t fly!
But somehow the horses I was given are so stubborn.
If I can’t finish living, at least let me finish singing!

And I’ll give the horses water,
I’ll finish singing this verse–
Just let me linger a moment more on the brink!

* This is a quick translation of the song as sung in this clip. There are various versions. Apologies to poets and lovers of beauty, and also to Vysotsky, for any errors.

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About sputnitsa

Born in the US, I grew up in Africa and the West Indies, and returned stateside in my teens. After a decade in international development, democracy work, and inclusivity training for domestic NGOs, I joined Peace Corps, and after a year, experienced my first Russian invasion. I followed that up by volunteering with refugees and youth, and after some vacation time climbing minarets and mountains, I returned to New York City, where today I work on social justice with college students, produce short films, and write.
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