Boris Slutsky
Horses in the ocean

To Ilya Ehrenburg

Horses can swim but they don't venture far —
That is a fact, and here is the story:

In times of peace, just after the war,
There was a ship by the name of Gloria.

She was out at sea one fateful day,
Across the ocean ploughing her way.

On the surging waves she tossed and rolled,
A thousand horses locked in her hold.

Four thousand horse-shoes — good luck galore! —
And yet she was never to reach the shore.

For she struck a mine and was badly rent,
And a part of her was twisted and bent.

The life-boats on board, alas, were few;
The life-boats were used to save the crew.

As for the horses, their plight was grim,
For, like it or not, they had to swim.

On and on they swam after the boats,
An island of horses with red-brown coats.

At first they were calm, for they did not dream
That the ocean was anything but a stream.

But it stretched without end like a wintry night,
And the longed-for land was never in sight.

On their watery way all their strength was spent,
And they whinnied in fear and in wonderment.

They whinnied and neighed and struggled for breath
As down they went to their watery death.

There are things to which one gets resigned,
But those luckless horses prey on my mind.

Translated by Irina Zheleznova

Борис Слуцкий
Лошади в океане

И. Эренбургу

Лошади умеют плавать,
Но — не хорошо. Недалеко.

«Глория» — по-русски — значит «Слава», —
Это вам запомнится легко.

Шёл корабль, своим названьем гордый,
Океан стараясь превозмочь.

В трюме, добрыми мотая мордами,
Тыща лощадей топталась день и ночь.

Тыща лошадей! Подков четыре тыщи!
Счастья все ж они не принесли.

Мина кораблю пробила днище
Далеко-далёко от земли.

Люди сели в лодки, в шлюпки влезли.
Лошади поплыли просто так.

Что ж им было делать, бедным, если
Нету мест на лодках и плотах?

Плыл по океану рыжий остров.
В море в синем остров плыл гнедой.

И сперва казалось — плавать просто,
Океан казался им рекой.

Но не видно у реки той края,
На исходе лошадиных сил

Вдруг заржали кони, возражая
Тем, кто в океане их топил.

Кони шли на дно и ржали, ржали,
Все на дно покуда не пошли.

Вот и всё. А всё-таки мне жаль их —
Рыжих, не увидевших земли.

Стихотворение Бориса Слуцкого «Лошади в океане» на английском.
(Boris Slutsky in english).