Nikola Vaptsarov

Spring in the Factory

She wanted to clock on with the first shift
But the engine swore furiously
“Oh no you don’t I’m in charge here
Where will we end up without rules? ‘Ere – go ask the doorman!”

But she was right cheeky
And she didn’t ask the doorman. – Slipped in.
Opened some window up high
And hidden from the engine Stuck out her tongue.

And straight off a machine sang out.
But the workers Were all fingers and thumbs.
Realising who was causing this
The engine said: “I’ll chuck her out!”

– Chuck her out really?  Mockingly
Growled. A good iron mixer.
– Just try, whirled the chattering stirrer,
We’ll come out on strike for her.

The engine shut up. The wind carried
From somewhere Warm breath of black earth
A melody – broad and joyous –
And steps Of cracked Feet.

Those who sometime had Dug
The earth, snorted like horses,
And the others, windows thrown open,
Glowed before The blue Heaven.

The ticker tape machine shot out Something rude.
A girl happily sang
A boy shot her With a loving glance
And she blushed.

Just then the doorman came in quiet
And demanded “Who’s snuck in then?”
But he soon caught on, smiled guiltily
Combed his hair Whistled And then shut up.

Nikola Vaptsarov

 

Farewell

To my wife

Sometime I’ll come into your dreams
Like an unexpected, unwanted guest.
Don’t leave me outside on the street –
Don’t bolt the doors against me.

I’ll enter on tip-toe. I’ll approach so gently
I’ll narrow my eyes to see you in the dark
And when gorged with gazing at you –
I’ll kiss you and then be gone.

Nikola Vaptsarov

 

Chronicle

In The Krup Factories grenades pour out
Pack them up snugly! They’re made for us, mates,
They’ll drink up our blood out in the meadows
Pack them up snugly! Millions of us…

At Bayer they’ve found some kind of gas
From a new mix.  And it’s just for us
It’ll just eat up our sooty lungs
It couldn’t be clearer…Don’t you want to puke?

At Vickers, they’ve bored machine gun muzzles
To fire six hundred bullets a minute – for us.
So they can bang it into our thick skulls
Come on cheer up!  Come on cheer up!

Come on cheer up! Don’t think how
The storm will catch us, the dark will smother us.
Present arms to the front of our modern era
But please…a bit of hush!  But please…
No grumbling.

Nikola Vaptsarov

translation by Christopher Buxton

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