He Lost His Life in the War

All’s the same, so what is the matter?

The same sky is again azure.

The same trees, the same air, the same water…

Only he lost his life in the war.


Late at night, in our rows,

Who was right?  I’m not sure.

I started to miss him only now

When he lost his life in the war.


He was shy when he spoke, couldn’t carry a tune,

His personal skills were poor.

He’d wake me up and say, "Look at the moon!"

And yesterday he lost his life in the war.


The emptiness was growing old, tired,

Suddenly it dawned on me- we had been two before.

I shuddered as if a gust of wind blew out the fire

For he lost his life in the war.


Spring is bursting forth in a riot;

By mistake I call out once more,

"Leave me a smoke!" … All falls quiet.

Yesterday he lost his life in the war.


Our dead will not leave us to suffer,

Our fallen guard us anew.

The sky reflects on the woods, as on water,

And the trees stand, blue.


Our time flowed for both, freely.

In our hut, we never felt ourselves poor.

Now that I’m alone, it seems to me

It was I lost my life in the war.


Vladimir Visotskiy, 1969

Translated by Curtis Cooper in 2009


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