I entered the cage meant for an animal,
Carved my sentence with a nail on the wall,
Lived by a sea, played roulette,
Dined with Devil-knows-who in a tux.
Inspected the world from the height of a glacier,
drowned thrice, twice was cut up.
Abandoned the country that wet-nursed me.
A city can be populated with those who had me forgotten.
Wandered in the steppes that remember the shrieks of the Huns.
Used to wear the things that now return into fashion,
sawed rye, covered black earth with roofing paper
and the only thing I didn't drink was dry water.
Into my dreams I have let in sentry's steel pupils,
chowed on the bread of Exile, the crust included.
Allowed my larynx all sounds, except for Howl;
switched to whisper. Now I am forty.
What can I say of my life? It turned out to be long.
I can only feel solidarity with Grief.
But until my mouth fills with clay,
it shall let out nothing but Gratitude.

Joseph Brodsky


Translated by Roman Turovsky (2001)