A Song Of Man

in Bulgarian

We argued,
	  a lady and I
			on the topic:
"The man of our time".
The lady,
	a peevish, excitable lady
impatiently stamped,
		    answered back.
Overwhelmed me with torrents
			   of muddled complaint
and a hailstorm of verbal
			attack.

"Just a moment, - I said. - Just a moment!
					Look here..."
But she cut me short, taking offence:
"I beg you, stop talking.
			I tell you - I hate man!
He doesn't deserve your defence."

"I read of a fellow
		who took up a chopper
against his own brother
			and killed him.
Then washed
	  and attended a service at church,
and afterwards said he felt better."

I shuddered in horror, and felt none too bright.
But I'm not
	  very strong
		    in my theory,
so I quietly said,
		 as an honest man might:
"Let's make a test case of a story.

The case took place in a village, Mogila.	
The father had hidden
		    some money.
The son got to know of it,
			 took it by force
and then did away with his father.

But after a month, or
		    was it a week,
the authorities made an arrest.
But the court
		doesn't function to give men a treat,
and sentenced the culprit to death.

They duly conducted the villain
				to prison,
they gave him a number and can,
but there in the prison he met honest people,
became
	a real man.

I don't know
	   the leaven that stirred him,
I don't know 
	   the way it was made.
But a song
	 much more clearly than talking
opened his eyes to his face.
And then he would say:
		    "O my God, how I floundered!
And here am I waiting
		    to swing.
When you're hungry
		  and dizzy
			  from hardship,
you've only to make a false step and you sink.

"You wait like a bull for the slaughter,
turn about, in your eyes there's
				the knife!
How unjust,
	how unjust
		is world order!
But perhaps we could better our life..."

He struck up his song, sang it quietly
and slowly,
	in front of him
			life
floated forth like a wonderful vision...
He sang,
	fell asleep
		    with smile...

Outside in the passage
			they talk in a whisper.
There follows a moment of calm.
Then somebody cautiously opens the door.
A few people. Behind them a guard.

One of them 
spoke
in a fearsome flat voice:
"Get up on your feet, man!" he bawled.
The others looked on,
		    with vacant expression
examined the dripping grey walls.
The man in the bed
		  understood that right now
life had finished with him,
			  and at once
he leapt up and brushed off the sweat from his brow.
Stared back
	  like a wild staring ox.

But little by little
			the man understood
that his fear was no use,
			he would die.
And a curious radiance
		      lit up his soul.
"Shall we go now?" he asked them.
				"All right."

He started 
	and they followed after him,
		  		  feeling
a curious
	ominous chill.
The soldier thought:
		   "Let's get it over and done with!
You're a tight corner now, pal."

Outside in the passage
			they talked in a whisper.
The corners were hidden in shade.
At last they came down to the courtyard.
					Above it
the sky shone with brightening sky
where a star in its brilliance bathed.
And fell to considering deeply his
				grievous,
					ferocious,
						and blind
							human
							    fate.
"My fate is decided,
		I'll hang from rope.
But that's far from the end,
			   I would say.
For a life will arrive that is fairer
				   than song,
and more beautiful than a spring day..."

He remembered the song,
		     a thought flashed through his mind,
(In his eyes a small fire was kindling).
He smiled a broad smile full of brightness
					 and warmth,
braced his shoulders and then started singing.

What's you view of it? Maybe
			   you think we've discovered
a case of a complex, hysterical?
You can think just whatever you like of the matter -
today, my dear friend,
		    you're in error.

The man calmly,
		sentence by sentence
so firmly recited the song,
that they stared at him
			uncomprehending,
and watched him in fear and alarm.

And even the prison
		  was quaking in terror,
the darkness too panicked and ran.
The stars, smiling happily, shouted for joy,
cried out to him:
		"Bravo, young man!"

From here on the story is clear. The rope
					skillfully
dropped on the shoulders, then
				death.
But still his contorted
and bloodless blue lips
to the words of the song were compressed.

And now we have come to the final denouement.
Well, what's your opinion, reader?
The lady,
	had started to sob,
			the poor woman
as if in a trance began shrieking:

"How horrid, how horrid! You tell the whole story
as if you'd been there on the spot!..."
What's horrid about it?
			The man sang a song -
and that's very fine, is it not?

Back to Vaptsarov's Page | English Home | Bulgarian Home