Praise to the Rich
Written by Marina Tsvetaeva
Translated by Elaine Feinstein
And so, making clear in advance
I know there are miles between us;
and I reckon myself with the tramps, which
is a place of honour in this world:
under the wheels of luxury, at
table with cripples and hunchbacks . . .
From the top of the bell-tower roof,
I proclaim it: I love the rich.
For their rotten, unsteady root
for the damage done in their cradle
for the absent-minded way their hands
go in and out of their pockets;
for the way their softest word is
obeyed like a shouted order; because
they will not be let into heaven; and
because they don’t look in your eyes;
and because they send secrets by courier!
and their passions by errand boy.
In the nights that are thrust upon them they
kiss and drink under compulsion,
and because in all their accountings
in boredom, in gilding, in wadding,
they can’t buy me I’m too brazen:
I confirm it, I love the rich!
and in spite of their shaven fatness,
their fine drink (wink, and spend)
some sudden defeatedness
and a look that is like a dog’s
doubting . . .
the core of their balance
nought, but are the weights true?
I say that among all outcasts
there are no such orphans on the earth.
There is also a nasty fable
about camels getting through needles
for that look, surprised to death
apologizing for sickness, as
if they were suddenly bankrupt: ‘I would have been
glad to lend, but’ and their silence.
‘I counted in carats once and then I was one of them.’
For all these things, I swear it: I love the rich.