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nUkiEmOLe poetics/ 10 Oct 2021 poetry of otheRs #48 Talk with a Tax Collector   written by Vladimir Mayakovsky

nUkiEmOLe poetics/ 10 Oct 2021 poetry of otheRs #48

Talk with a Tax Collector   written by Vladimir Mayakovsky

 

“The Stalinist bureaucracy kept the artists and writers under the strictest con-trol, because, in the absence of parties and unions, the opposition of the workers and intellectuals could be expressed in other ways. Literature was particularly dangerous. But the pictorial arts, and even music, might also be used for subversive purposes. Hence the zeal with which the paid hacks of the state in the leadership of the Writers and Musicians’ ‘Unions’ pursued each and every devia-tion from the officially approved norms of ‘socialist realism’. Just compare this suffocating atmosphere with the bubbling cauldron of artistic life in the 1920s, with its myriad schools of thought and style – Futurism, Acmeism, Symbolism, Imag-ism, Constructivism, and many other ‘isms’ with the soulless conformism of later decades, and we see how a great opportunity was lost.

The great Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky [italics, mine] was one of the few well-known writers who had actively sympathised with the Bolsheviks before the Revolution (Maxim Gorky was another). Whereas other famous poets like Sergei Yesenin and Alexander Blok sympathised with the revolution as fellow travellers (a term invented by Trotsky in the 1920s), Mayakovsky identified with it heart and soul, and this was reflected in his poetry, earning him the nickname ‘the drummer-boy of the revolution’. In later years, his poetry and plays frequently contained biting satirical attacks against the Soviet bureaucracy. In 1930 he committed suicide, which was almost certainly a protest against the slide towards bureaucratic reaction.

Many others did not take their own lives but were swept up in the Purges and perished in Stalin’s camps. This was the fate of another great Russian poet, Osip Mandelstam. From 1932 on, the regime demanded complete submission from the writers and artists. Boris Pasternak stopped writing for a period of ten years. During the war, he published some poetry, but then fell silent again in protest against Zhdanov’s Purges, writing nothing until the publication of Doctor Zhivago which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Sweden, and promptly banned in Russia.”

see: [Book] Russia: From Revolution to Counter-Revolution  by Ted Grant 10 Oct 2017  https://www.marxist.com/russia-from-revolution-to-counter-revolution/the-period-of-stagnation.htm

Poem by Vladimir Mayakovsky

**wRitten in Cyrillic, tRanslated by Ruth Herschberger and Marina Prychodko, in May 1963 https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?volume=102&issue=2&page=34

Citizen tax collector!
Forgive my bothering you…
Thank you…
don’t worry…
I’ll stand…

My business
is
of delicate nature:
about the place
of the poet
in the workers’ ranks.

Along with
owners
of stores and property
I’m made subject
to taxes and penalties.

You demand
I pay
five hundred for the half year
and twenty-five
for failing to send in my returns.

Now
my work
is like
any other work.

Look here—
how much I’ve lost,
what expenses
I have in my production
and how much I spend
on my materials.

You know,
of course,
about “rhyme.”

Suppose
a line
ends with the word
“day,”
and then,
repeating the syllables
in the third line,
we insert
something like
“tarara-boom-de-ay.”

In your idiom,
rhyme
is a bill of exchange
to be honored in the third line!—
that’s the rule.

And so you hunt
for the small change of suffixes and flections
in the depleted cashbox
of conjugations
and declensions.

You start shoving
a word
into the line,
but it’s a tight fit—
you press and it breaks.

Citizen tax collector,
honestly,
the poet
spends a fortune on words.

In our idiom
rhyme
is a keg.

A keg of dynamite.
The line
is a fuse.

The line burns to the end
and explodes,
and the town
is blown sky-high
in a strophe.

Where can you find,
and at what price,
rhymes
that take aim and kill on the spot?

Suppose
only half a dozen
unheard-of rhymes
were left,
in, say, Venezuela.

And so
I’m drawn
to North and South.
I rush around
entangled in advances and loans.

Citizen!
Consider my traveling expenses.
—Poetry—
—all of it!—
is a journey to the unknown.

Poetry
is like mining radium.
For every gram
you work a year.

For the sake of a single word
you waste
a thousand tons
of verbal ore.

But how
incendiary
the burning of these words
compared
with the smoldering
of the raw material.

These words
will move
millions of hearts
for thousands of years.

Of course,
there are many kinds of poets.
So many of them
use legerdemain!

And,
like conjurers,
pull lines from their mouths—
their own—
and other people’s.

Not to speak
of the lyrical castrates?!
They’re only too glad
to shove in
a borrowed line.

This is
just one more case
of robbery and embezzlement
among the frauds rampant in the country.

These
verses and odes
bawled out
today
amidst applause,
will go down
in history
as the overhead expenses
of what
two or three of us
have achieved.

As the saying goes,
you eat forty pounds
of table salt,
and smoke
a hundred cigarettes
in order
to dredge up
one precious word
from artesian
human depths.

So at once
my tax
shrinks.

Strike out
one wheeling zero
from the balance due!

For a hundred cigarettes—
a ruble ninety;
for table salt—
a ruble sixty.

Your form
has a mass of questions:
“Have you traveled on business
or not?”

But suppose
I have
ridden to death
a hundred Pegasi
in the last
15 years?

And here you have—
imagine my feelings!—
something
about servants
and assets.

But what if I am
simultaneously
a leader
and a servant
of the people?

The working class
speaks
through my mouth,
and we,
proletarians,
are drivers of the pen.

As the years go by,
you wear out
the machine of the soul.

And people say:
“A back number,
he’s written out,
he’s through!”

There’s less and less love,
and less and less daring,
and time
is a battering ram
against my head.

Then there’s amortization,
the deadliest of all;
amortization
of the heart and soul.

And when
the sun
like a fattened hog
rises
on a future
without beggars and cripples,
I shall
already
be a putrefied corpse
under a fence,
together
with a dozen
of my colleagues.

Draw up
my
posthumous balance!
I hereby declare—
and I’m telling no lies:

Among
today’s
swindlers and dealers,
I alone
shall be sunk
in hopeless debt.

Our duty is
to blare
like brass-throated horns
in the fogs of bourgeois vulgarity
and seething storms.

A poet
is always
indebted to the universe,
paying,
alas,
interest
and fines.

I am
indebted
to the lights of the Broadway,
to you,
to the skies of Bagdadi,
to the Red Army,
to the cherry trees of Japan —
to everything
about which
I have not yet written.

But, after all,
who needs
all this stuff?
Is its aim to rhyme
and rage in rhythm?

No, a poet’s word
is your resurrection
and your immortality,
citizen and official.

Centuries hence,
take a line of verse
from its paper frame
and bring back time!

And this day
with its tax collectors,
its aura of miracles
and its stench of ink,
will dawn again.

Convinced dweller in the present day,
go
to the N.K.P.S.
take a ticket to immortality
and, reckoning
the effect
of my verse,
stagger my earnings
over three hundred years!

But the poet is strong
not only because,
remembering you,
the people of the future
will hiccup.
No!

Nowadays too
the poet’s rhyme
is a caress
and a slogan,
a bayonet
and a knout!

Citizen tax collector,
I’ll cross out
all the zeros
after the five
and pay the rest.

I demand
as my right
an inch of ground
among
the poorest
workers and peasants.

And if
you think
that all i have to do
is to profit
by other people’s words,
then,
comrades,
here’s my pen.

Take
a crack at it
yo
urselves!

CRIMSON COMPASS towards permanent humanity

https://crimson-compass.tumblr.com/post/56866500409/conversation-with-a-tax-collector-about-poetry

  

  



  

  



  

  



 

 

 

 

Bio-sketch (2-27-16)…

I started into believing that I would be able to show my data and my photogRapHics in 1996. By 1998 I was learning computers would gain ascendant methods thru technics of programming for a future connected to data and information. That was nuclear-Molecular finding(s) to share and my personal-Activism w first account specifics and engendering(s).

As cameras went 'digital-Tech' I fond that editing was also to follow in 2004. Then, in 2005 my first digital camera had replaced usage(s) of s.l.r. 35 mm's. I have no mercy nor pity for the thieves who have stolen my hard werk, as anxiety of what I allowed was mid-stReam--anyway! Those asshole-Pukes have cost me $1,000's on a fixed income and I remain single, sole-Survivor of two-Families w.o. offspring!

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