My University
by Vladimir Mayakovsky
(from his poem "I Love")
English translation by Leonard Lehrman
Copyright 1970

You know French perfectly.
Math and logistics too.
You study so well, you do.
Well, so go study!
But listen:
What building stories do you know?
Or songs of trolleycars - tell, me, where did they go?
I've always hated
the fat and the faded
because since childhood I've sung for my supper.
You learn how to sit
and how to please a lady -
Trifling thoughts, worthlessly rattling like ivory copper!
But I, with my audience of a only a building,
Outside all the towers, see what tomorrow will bring.
With rapt attention, the whispering window gnomes
would catch my poems
with condescension.
And later they'd chatter on
about each other
while dangling their tongues like weather cock fighters.