Summer 2000


Yevgeny Yevtushenko


Like a ghost in a crowd
I don't leave any traces.
I am snagged in the web
of untied shoelaces...
Each one of the shoelaces
it's owner chases...

guys with the untied shoelaces
aren't you bored with such stupid races?
I don't think
you are able to fly over the clouds.
With your laces
you're tied up with the faceless crowds.

You will be tripped
by your laces
like a baby, down.
You will be swaddled in military uniform
or professorial gown.
You'll be lullabied by the customers
of McDonalds, bars, launderettes
like obedient marionettes.

You are proud to boast
of your fragile freedom
Are you proudly free not to read?
So many great books,
and no time to read 'em?
You want to be rich and famous?
So be prepared and plan it.

But you drag your shoelaces
over our planet
incredibly lazy
like overcooked spaghetti...
I don't think you are lucky like Bill Gates or Paul Getty.

So many bloodied knots
whether it is our fate
To untie or to cut them
is equally great!
But you are afraid
to untie anything beside your shoes
such cowardice is a self-abuse.
Do not sneak away,
generation of sneakers! I suspect
It would be poetically incorrect.
Where are your songs of protest
you guys with untied shoelaces
but with fatally tied-up hands?

Guys, you walk on the streets
over lost human faces
suffocated by your own laces...

Translated by the author. Distinguished Professor in the Department of European Languages, Queens College New York, Russian poet, novelist, essayist, film director, movie actor, photographer Yevgeny Yevtushenko was born in 1933 in Zima Junction, Siberia. In 1961 he published his sensational poem against anti-Semitism, Babii Yar.



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