Letter before battle
Half an hour till battle.
And the tanks will soon rattle,
And the concert of blasts will boom on the slopes.
But, a personal matter, -
The soldier picked up a letter
In a tiny, triangular, blue envelope.
It’s as if you’re ceased fighting,
If your girlfriend is writing,
Or if your father and mother have sent you a note…
But something different transpired,
And the evening was mired,
With just minutes till battle, you read it, distraught.
There it was, - so degrading:
“I got tired of waiting.
Should’ve written you sooner…”. And that was the end.
At the bottom, she added,
“Best of luck in the battle,
I’ll be moving away soon. I won’t write you again.”
With the first detonation,
He screamed with frustration:
“Mailman, you are leaving me broken and wrecked!
Just a minute from death,
You have taken my breath
With a wound from a bullet that I didn’t expect!”
He climbed out of the trench
With his firearm clenched,
Not avoiding the shards that cut through his skin.
In some small Sura town,
He collapsed to the ground,
And the scraps of his letter were swept by the wind.
By Vladimir Vysotsky
Translation by Andrey Kneller