DON’T EVER …

“Get going. Move forward. Aim High. Plan a takeoff. Don’t just sit on the runway and hope someone will come along and push the airplane. It simply won’t happen.” ― Donald Trump

Don’t ever let your soul stay idle,
Don’t let it loaf its time away!
The soul is duty-bound to labour
Both day and night, both night and day.

Give it no respite and no mercy,
Drive it along with fist and goad
Through wildernesses, hungry, thirsty,
By snowbound path, by rutted road.

Don’t let it sleep till in the window
The morning star shines bright aloft,
And keep the lazybones in sackcloth,
And never take its bridle off.

Just try and let it out of harness,
Relieve it of its daily work,
And it will rob you without pity
Of all you have, to your last shirt.

Determined, grab it by the shoulders,
And punish it from dawn to dusk,
Teach it to live as must we humans,
To look at life as one long task.

It is your empress and your slavegirl,
Daughter and servant in your pay.
And it is duty-bound to labour
Both day and night, both night and day.

© Nikolai Zabolotsky, 1955 (Translated by Dorian Rottenberg)

Nikolai Zabolotsky (1903-1958) was a much admired Russian poet of the first half of the 20th century. He came to prominence as a poet in the 1920’s during the first decade of the Soviet era. He suffered persecution and exile during the period of Soviet purges and died shortly after his rehabilitation. His first book of poetry, Scrolls was published in Leningrad in 1929.

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