Nikolai Zabolotsky, p.2


Please sit down, have some tea.
We have preserves in every pot.

Among the dishes I distinguish
The English teapot.

Your eye, Korneev, has grown sharp,
You see the porcelain of England.
It has appeared in our cell
Since not so very long ago.
A friend entrusted it to my care
Out of a trunk full of tableware.

Your discourse oversteps all measure,
O Agafonov, my heart’s companion,
I can’t believe it. No! This precious
Object, worthy of Pantheons,
This specter of luxurious Britain,
Whose bearing gratifies the eye,
Instructs the soul, enlightens reason,
Heals the infirm with art,
Melts the defenses of the heart,
While shining forth like a light—
How can it be? This elegant relic,
Redolent of a superior world,
Restores the sage in his monastic dwelling
With water colored by an herb?

Yes, it’s true.

Good God!
An object of such leverage
Stands, full of poison,
Providing Agafonov with beverage!
To think it only: among handles
That are as graceful as meringue,
It could have subsisted in better conditions:
In state of worship, like an angel.
The sovereign of misty Albion
Would have installed it on a dais,
And sat before it, richly perfumed,
Whispering this dish’s praise.
The crown prince, in his very person,
Would enter its presence upon his tiptoes,
Considering it favor personal
To be allowed to tap its nose.
Instead, what have we here? Fictions!
Fallen into a modest hut,
This teapot offers us refreshment
Although you’re not a duke or a count.

Encyclopedias of lies
I’ve heard from sundry sycophants,
But from you, my friend Korneev,
I expected otherwise.
You judge, I swear, like a lunatic,
By passions woefully distorted.
The little vein upon your forehead
Pulsates with an unseemly tic.
This teapot—can it be the cause?
Then take it. Wherefore I need it?

I thank you, sir.
Now I am quite calm.
Farewell. I am still weeping. (Exits.)

My spirit hovers in the air,
My body lies in this cell,
And I invite the teapot back right now.

Take back this teapot, Agafonov.
I shall abhor its sight forever.
I used to be a man of wisdom
But I am ruined now and lost.

(Embracing him.)
Praise be to you, my friend Korneev.
Your spirit has vanquished this teapot!
Now, I beg you, please accept it
As my eager and earnest gift.