Treasure Island

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

(18 July 1933 / Zima Junction, Siberia)

Breaking Up


I fell out of love: that’s our story’s dull ending,
as flat as life is, as dull as the grave.
Excuse me-I’ll break off the string of this love song
and smash the guitar. We have nothing to save.

The puppy is puzzled. Our furry small monster
can’t decide why we complicate simple things so-
he whines at your door and I let him enter,
when he scratches at my door, you always go.

Dog, sentimental dog, you’ll surely go crazy,
running from one to the othe like this-
too young to conceive of an ancient idea:
it’s ended, done with, over, kaput. Finis.

Get sentimental and we end up by playing
the old melodrama, 'Salvation of Love.'
'Forgiveness, ' we whisper, and hope for an echo;
but nothing returns from the silence above.

Better save love at the very beginning,
avoiding all passionate 'nevers, ' 'forevers; '
we ought to have heard what the train wheels were shouting,
'Do not make promises! ' Promises are levers.

We should have made note of the broken branches,
we should have looked up at the smokey sky,
warning the witless pretensions of lovers-
the greater the hope is, the greater the lie.

True kindness in love means staying quite sober,
weighing each link of the chain you must bear.
Don’t promise her heaven-suggest half an acre;
not 'unto death, ' but at least to next year.

And don’t keep declaring, 'I love you, I love you.'
That little phrase leads a durable life-
when remembered again in some loveless hereafter,
it can sting like a hornet or stab like a knife.

So-our little dog in all his confusion
turns and returns from door to door.
I won’t say 'forgive me' because I have left you;
I ask pardon for one thing: I loved you before.

Submitted: Friday, August 17, 2007
Edited: Tuesday, March 29, 2011

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Comments about this poem (Breaking Up by Yevgeny Yevtushenko )

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  • Marques De Valia (9/26/2014 12:33:00 AM)

    this is a great poem. in Russian. but as i began to read...

    i bet the translator was proud. but it is too singsongy.
    russian is a different language from english.
    the singsongy ness takes away from the seriousness of the subjects. it's a distracting ornamentation that
    would not happen were one hearing a russian version, or a more thoughtful and respectful translation.

    which i will endeavor to provide here, soon, just to make a point. (Report) Reply

Read all 1 comments »

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