THE TALE OF HONOUR

in Bulgarian

It was an honour I had not
Expected, to be sure.
The Devil asked me in and offered
Me his best liqueur.

A candle gilt his profile.
Puffing smoke rings in a haze,
With moist eyes Mephistopheles
Upon me fixed gaze.

His mien, though tinged with autumn grief,
Was proud and cheerful too.
He cried: "In vino veritas -
I shall be frank with you!

"I can no longer bear the yoke
Of cunning and deceit.
here's to my other-worldly warmth
And worldly woes we meet!

"Long, long ago I came to earth
And for a joke, you see,
Took worldly Truth to be my life
But she cuckolded me.

"My honour to avenge I vowed
In jealousy and pain.
I trampled others' honour down
But mine I've not regained.

"I thought in exploits to excel.
I died in many a fray.
Though worthy causes I upheld
No honours came my way.

"Then in the street one day I showed
A sign I had prepared.
"Here is a man without a scrap
Of honour, 'it declared.

"But, strangely, no one looked askance!
With interest I was viewed
And everywhere men doffed their hats:
'No honour? Good for you!'

"A gentleman embraced me: 'Brother,
You too?! Man alive!'
Two pretty ladies said: 'Tomorrow
Come to tea at five!'

"Amazing! Such attention rare
All did to me devote.
Kings, ministers, court ladies fair
Fond letters to me wrote.

"Behold me rolling now in gold.
A man of place and pride!
A thief, a shameless rogue - I know -
Butů honoured far and wide!"

He paused, our glasses he refilled
And raised a toast with glee
As, blowing rings of smoke, he fixed
His bright green eyes on me.

1923


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