by Marina Ivanovna Tsvetaeva (1892 - 1941)
Translation © by Dann Mitton

Нет, бил барабан перед смутным полком
Language: Russian (Русский) 
Available translation(s): ENG ENG FRE
Нет, бил барабан перед смутным полком,
Когда мы вождя хоронили:
То зубы царёвы над мёртвым певцом
Почётную дробь выводили.

Такой уж почёт, что ближайшим друзьям —
Нет места. В изглавьи, в изножьи,
И справа, и слева — ручищи по швам —
Жандармские груди и рожи.

Не диво ли — и на тишайшем из лож
Пребыть поднадзорным мальчишкой?
На что-то, на что-то, на что-то похож
Почёт сей, почётно — да слишком!

Гляди, мол, страна, как, молве вопреки,
Монарх о поэте печётся!
Почётно — почётно — почётно — архи-
почётно, — почётно — до чёрту!

Кого ж это так — точно воры вора
Пристреленного — выносили?
Изменника? Нет. С проходного двора —
Умнейшего мужа России.

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Dann Mitton) , "No, there was a drumbeat", copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Sergey Rybin) , "No, the drum was drumming", copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Non, le tambour bat devant les troupes inquiètes", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: John Versmoren

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 20
Word count: 113

No, there was a drumbeat
Language: English  after the Russian (Русский) 
No, there was a drumbeat before the restless regiment,
When we were burying the leader: 
Like the tsar's teeth over the dead singer
as they were delivering the honour roll. 

Such an honor, that even for his closest friends
There is no room. At his head, at his feet,
Both on his right and left – enormous hands at their sides -
Only the gendarmes' chests and ugly mugs. 

Mustn’t we marvel that, even on this most quiet and luxurious of beds
He endures being supervised like a juvenile? 
Something… something… something… it resembles 
This honour, but honour - too much honour!

As if, "Look country: contrary to the rumours,
The monarch cares about the poet!"
Honour - Honour - Honour - Arch-
honour - honour - goddammit!

Who was it, as if this was an assassinated thief
carried out by thieves? 
A traitor? No. In the thoroughfare
The wisest man in Russia.


  • Translation from Russian (Русский) to English copyright © 2020 by Dann Mitton, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

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This text was added to the website: 2020-05-31
Line count: 20
Word count: 153