David M. Bennett
It seems to me sometimes that soldiers fallen,
Whom bloody battlefields have rendered dead,
Were buried not in soil to be forgotten,
But turned into white cranes in flight instead.
From that time, since their fate became a coffin
They’ve soared, and issued us a strident cry.
Is that not why we sadly, and so often,
Lift up our silent gaze when cranes go by?
Today, as evening yields to nightfall’s border,
I see the cranes in flight, their wings unfurled,
As over fields they fly in perfect order
Just as they marched, when people in the world
They fly—their line extending to forever—
And call out names of someone to the cold.
Is that not why the song of cranes has never
Been far from Avar speech since times of old?
The weary wedge of birds on expedition—
It flies and flies through fog, towards the dawn,
And in the ranks I notice a position--
An empty space for me, for when I’m gone!
Some day in that formation I’ll be flying;
I’ll sail into the skies on my rebirth,
And from the heav’ns with crane trump I’ll be crying
To those of you I left upon the earth
©Copyright 1976 by Rasul Gamzatov
Translated by David M. Bennett, 23 February 2010