Конкурс переводов 2016

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T h e B a rb e r’s  U n c le

by William Saroyan


Miss Gamma said I needed a haircut, my mother said I needed a haircut, my brother Krikor said I needed a haircut: the whole world wanted me to get a haircut. My head was too big for the world. Too much black hair, the world said. Everybody said, ‘When are you going to get a haircut?’ There was a big businessman in our town named Huntingdon who used to buy an evening paper from me every day. He was a man who weighed 240 pounds, owned two Cadillacs, a lot of land, and had over a million dollars in the Valley Bank, as well as a small head, without hair, right on top of him where everybody could see it. He used to make railroad men from out of town walk a long way to see my head. ‘There’s California for you,’ he used to shout in the street. ‘There’s good weather and health. There’s hair on a head,’ he used to shout.

Miss Gamma was bitter about the size of my head. ‘I’m not mentioning any names,’ she said one day, ‘but unless a certain young man in this class visits a barber one of these days and has his hair cut, he will be sent to a worse place than this.’ She didn’t mention any names. All she did was look at me. ‘What’s the big idea?’ my brother Krikor said. I was glad the world was angry with me, but one day a small bird tried to build a nest in my hair, so I hurried up town to a barber.  I was sleeping on the grass under the tree in our yard when a bird flew down from the tree and started making its way into my hair.

It was a warm winter day and the world was sleeping. It was very still everywhere in the world. Nobody was rushing round in a car   and the only thing you could hear was the warm and cold, happy and sad silence of reality. The world. Ah, it was good to be alive somewhere. It was wonderful to have a small house in the world. Rooms and tables and chairs and beds. Pictures on the walls. It was strange and wonderful to be somewhere in the world. Alive, able to move through time and space, any time of the day and night: to breathe and eat and laugh and talk and sleep and grow. To see and hear and touch. To walk through the places of the world under the sun. To be in the world. I was glad the world was there, so I could be there too. I was alone, so I was sad about everything, but I was glad too. I was so glad about everything that I was sad. I wanted to dream about it: the places I had never seen. The wonderful cities of the world: New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Constantinople, Rome, Cairo. The streets, the houses, the people alive. The doors and windows everywhere. And the trains at night, and the ships at sea. The dark sad sea. And the bright moments of all the dead years, the cities buried under time, the places decayed and gone. Ah, in 1919 I dreamed a dream one day: I dreamed the living lived for ever. I dreamed the end of change and decay and death. Then the bird flew down from the tree to my head and tried to build a nest in my hair, and I woke up. I opened my eyes but didn’t move.

I had no idea the bird was in my hair until it began to sing. I had never before in my life heard the cry of a bird so clearly, and what I heard sounded very new, and at the same time very natural and old. There had been no sound in the world and then suddenly I had heard the bird. Then I realized that such a thing was not proper. It was not proper for a small bird to be in anybody’s hair. So I jumped up and hurried to town, and the bird, properly frightened, flew as far away as it could go in one breath.

The Song of Mr Toad

by Kenneth Grahame

The world has held great Heroes,

As history-books have showed;

But never a name to go down to fame

Compared with that of Toad

The clever men at Oxford

Know all that there is to be knowed.

But they none of them knew one half as much

As intelligent Mr Toad!

The animals sat in the Ark and cried,

Their tears in torrents flowed.

Who was it said, “There’s land ahead?”

Encouraging Mr Toad!

The Army all saluted

As they marched along the road.

Was it the King? Or Kitchener?

No. It was Mr Toad!

The Queen and her Ladies-in-waiting

Sat at the window and sewed.

She cried, “Look! who’s that handsome man?”

They answered, “Mr Toad.”


by Ernestine Northover

How advanced they are, these children of the future, 
Like small adults, within their tiny frames, 
They grow up in a fast 'speed driven' culture, 
Where 'learning pressures' change their kind of games, 
Where is their childhood, in all this hurly burly, 
Where is their pure untainted view of things, 
Why do they have to grow so old, so early, 
And lose the joy that only childhood brings.

Our childhood was filled with thoughts of joy and gladness, 
We lived our lives, oblivious to the world
And all the hardships, wars, the grief and sadness, 
We stood, waiting for our lives to be unfurled.
We had time to grow, and gain an understanding, 
Of each new phase, each change along the way, 
As we grew slowly, our senses all expanding, 
So with clarity, we slowly changed our play.

We had a framework on which to build and flourish, 
Slow and steady, this was no rushed affair, 
Taking each step, then step by step to nourish, 
Our childhood, so finally adulthood we would share.
What will become, of these 'New Century' learners, 
I doubt if they, a dreamy childhood see, 
Will they then tell to all those bright discerners
Of their own, how they remembered their childhood to be.

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