Hall In Kharkov

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In the burgh of Kharkov-
bursting hail.
Big hail,
big as grape,
and it goes dancing along the railings,
dancing, prancing.
It’s spry and full of pranks,
and the devil’s no match for it.
Like fruit-candy, lumps of hail
assail the lips.
Hail spatters,
clatters,
on the glazing pavement.
The traffic cop jumps off
his round wooden stand.
Cop, cop,
traffic cop,
but he wants to guard his head.

There goes a hoodlum with heavy jowl
squirming up to a little shop.
The hail-it biffs him on the brow,
knocking off his small peaked cap!

There goes a priest out visiting.
He’s off to play a game of poker.
The hail gives the priest what-ho!
And quite helplessly the priest
takes shelter in the entrance to
‘The Society of the Godless’.

There, running, goes a girl philologist.
The hail gives her a hefty whacking!
Of a sudden, quite alogically,
it jerks her plaits awry.
In one’s eyes skip little devils,
dancing as at a festival,
and globules of hail,
like glow-worms, glisten in one’s hair.

In the Univermag a man
has just acquired a Chinese basin
with poppies painted on it.
Suddenly the hail starts banging on the basin!
The basin sings,
dings,
dongs…
The man walks on,
guffawing.
Hail’s a prankster,
cheeky,
wild…
Once again!
Once again!
The basin sounds a tambourine,
go and dance to it, you can.
Hail pelts down!
Hail!
Hail!
Let me tell you, hail,
I’m glad!
All who are young,
are glad of hail,
even when a hundred times more strong!
Over all sorts of barriers
I stride ahead
through hail,
the hail of gibes,
of crafty slanders,
which assail me on every side.
Hail is dangerous only for the weak.
But the strong have need of it.
Hail is nothing sad,
hail is a reward
to those who fear no barriers.
One should greet hail smiling,
hail should give great joy!
Hail, do your best!

Translated by George Reavey

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