Why are you like this?

Why Are You Like This?

from Bratsk Station and Other New Poems tr. Tina Tupikina-Glaessner, Geoffrey Dutton and Igor Mezhakoff-Korakin (NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1967)

by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

When the radio operator of the Morianna, head bent,
was searching for a radio beacon,
by chance he picked up on the receiver a woman’s voice:
“Why are you like this, why are you like this?”

From Amderma she shouted
across the masts and ice and barking dogs,
and like a storm it grew louder all around:
“Why are you like this, why are you like this?”

Pressing inhumanly against each other,
crunching on all sides against each other,
each ice floe wheezed to the other:
“Why are you like this, why are you like this?”

With all its being the white whale
tangled in the nets cried to the hunter
through a fountain of blood:
“Why are you like this, why are you like this?”

And he, poor fellow,
swept away by a curling wave,
whispered as he perished without trace:
“Why are you like this, why are you like this?”

Like a swine I betray you
and nothing will stop me,
while all the time your eyes implore me:
“Why are you like this, why are you like this?”

You look at me, estranged and full of hate,
already almost like an enemy,
and hopelessly I implore you:
“Why are you like this, why are you like this?”

And heart to heart, nation to nation,
every year more distrustfully
they shout through storms and darkness:
“Why are you like this, why are you like this?”

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  1. I like this about a fellow earthling and what we do to her or him . . . just as we do to each other.

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