Lies

Lying to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them
that God’s in his heaven
and all’s well with the world
is wrong.
They know what you mean.
They are people too.
Tell them the difficulties
can’t be counted,
and let them see
not only
what will be
but see
with clarity
these present times.
Say obstacles exist they must encounter,
sorrow comes,
hardship happens.
The hell with it.
Who never knew
the price of happiness
will not be happy.
Forgive no error
you recognize,
it will repeat itself,
a hundredfold
and afterward
our pupils
will not forgive in us
what we forgave.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Translated by Robin Milner-Gulland and Peter Levi (revised)

This poem hangs on the side of my bookcase in my office at school. I’d almost forgotten about it until I went to get some magnets during class today.

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One thought on “Lies

  1. Yevtushenko teaches at my alma mater, The University of Tulsa. I never took any of his classes, but some of my friends did. Reading this poem makes me wish I had taken the time to take one of his classes!

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