Konstantin Simonov

"You used to say to me 'I love you!'"

to Valentina Serova

You used to say to me "I love you!",
But that was through your teeth, at night,
The truth was "I put up with you".
- You almost said it in the light.

I could believe your lips in darkness,
The wicked magic of your bed,
But though the words you spoke were honest,
I did not credit what you said.

I knew you - you were not a liar;
You would have liked to be in love.
Only at night could you deceive me,
When body drives the soul above.

But sober morning found you different.
Your mind was now the guiding force;
And when I asked you if you loved me,
I think you once replied "Of course".

Then sudden war, the station platform,
Nowhere to kiss and hold you tight,
My seat in the suburban carriage
To take me far into the night;

An evening without hope of loving;
No warmth, no happiness, no bliss;
And like a helpless cry of anguish,
Upon my sleeve, a tasted kiss.

And so that I should know the difference
From those old drunken words at night,
You suddenly said to me "I love you!"
Your lips were almost calm and right!

That you could be as you were that evening,
Seemed, till that evening, past belief!
"I love you! Love you!" Night; the station;
Your little hands so cold with grief...

June 1941