Tlanslation: Svyatoslav Albireo
— What is a double feeling, — said His Majesty, after a moment of the silence. — On the one hand, your favorite poet wrote a book about you. On the other hand, all these verses about how bad you are. A charging, is not it?
Minister portrayed a sad smile and nodded. He did not understand the poetry, but any disrespect to the Head of the state he considered as pernicious and they must be eradicated.
— An arrest warrant and the sanctions are ready, but, considering the sensitivity of the issue, I decided to get the approval of your Majesty, at first.
— What is wrong with you! Do not you dare! The problem is not that he writes those nasty things about me. The problem is, he is a genius, and his poetry will survive the centuries. And what did he spend his talent on? Who, I ask you, will — he picked up the book and full of disgust motioned it to the utilizer — be interested in it after this throne changed a dozen or ass? If you grab him now — he will feel himself a martyr and dedicated the rest of his life to my persona.
The minister listened patiently. He in the highest degree did not care about what will happen after a few generations. He was able to solve the problems of nowadays, and, now, faithfully selected the versions which do not include the arrest or the elimination.
— Invent any graceful way to force him to retire in the wilderness, away from politics, and quietly do his creativity there. But without those tricks of yours… Hmm… You know what? I wonder… If he says nasty things about me and publishes them in the large print runs, why should not I pay him back in the same coin? Of course, as a poet I am nothing, but now it’s even better. As it’s said, a lack is an advantage which you do not know how to use. Write down…
The poet cried, clutching a crumpled piece of paper in his hand.
— What’s an ignobility… — he sobbed. — It would be better if he arrested me. He better…
And he burst into tears again, drying his eyes mechanically with this infamous piece of paper. The leaflet partly limped from tears and torn up, he couldn’t read its contents, but he, unfortunately, remembered it by heart.
Imperial verses were terrible both in form and content. The size was trampled, the beauty of style was lacking at all. And they were dedicated to the poet, full of the primitive allusions, but were not less offensive ones, they attacked him and even contained a couple of unpleasant revelations.
Verses were everywhere. They were broadcasted, printed, written on the walls, and cut on park benches. Wherever the poet appeared, people chased him with sympathetic looks and mocking chuckle.
— I cannot take it anymore – said the poet with a trembling voice. – I will go to my aunt, in the village …
Five minutes later, he rummaged in the wardrobe, searching the suitcase, suddenly he stopped and loudly slapped his forehead.
— Stop! — Suddenly his voice grew stronger. — How could I not think, it was what he really wanted!
The poet froze in thought, then laughed:
— So, I won’t go away! I stay! I’ll write the eulogies, the oversweety ones. He hates a flattery. Especially brazen and blatant one. He will be writhing!