Vladimir Mayakovsky and Lili Brik

Lili Brik and Vladimir Mayakovsky

Lilichka!
(Instead of a letter)

Tobacco smoke eats the air away.
The room,--
a chapter from Kruchenykh’s Inferno.
Recall,--
by the window,
that day,
I caressed you ecstatically, with fervor.
Here you sit now,
with your heart in iron armor.
In a day,
you’ll scold me perhaps
and tell me to leave.
Frenzied, the trembling arm in the gloomy parlor
will hardly be able to fit the sleeve.
I’ll rush out
and hurl my body into the street,--
distraught,
lashed by despair
and sadness.
There’s no need for this,
my darling,
my sweet.
Let’s part tonight and end this madness.
Either way,
my love is
an arduous weight,
hanging on you
wherever you flee.
Let me bellow out in the final complaint
all of my heartbroken misery.
A laboring bull, if he had enough,
will leave
and find cool water to lie in.
But for me,
there’s no sea
except for your love,--
from which even tears won’t earn me some quiet.
If an elephant wants to relax, he’ll lie,
pompous, outside in the sun-baked dune,
Except for your love,
there’s no sun
in the sky
and I don’t even know where you are and with whom.
If you thus tormented another poet,
he
would trade in his love for money and fame.
But
nothing sounds as precious to me
as the ringing sound of your darling name.
I won’t drink poison,
or jump to demise,
or pull the trigger to take my own life.
Except for your eyes,
no blade can control me,
no sharpened knife.
Tomorrow you’ll forget
that it was I who crowned you,
who burned out the blossoming soul with love
and the days will form a whirling carnival
that will ruffle my manuscripts and lift them above…
Will the dry autumn leaves of my sentences
cause you to pause,
breathing hard?

Let me
pave a path with the final tenderness
for your footsteps as you depart.

1916

Lili Brik and Vladimir Mayakovsky

Osip Brik, Lili Brik and Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1928.

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