Konstantin Simonov

Simonov through English Eyes

Wives

The stove has died right down to nothing,
It's midnight, and the only marks
Of light, are three small dots of red
Of cigarettes that break the dark.

What do we talk about, we soldiers?
There's New Year's Eve to celebrate
In bitter cold we sit in darkness
And snow falls on and on like Fate.

One says, ‘she'll give the floor a mop,
Just like she did when I was there,
And then she'll settle down the children
And have some quiet in her chair.

We're forty – same age, both of us.
I guess she'll have a little cry
And then she'll have a shot of vodka
And toast her husband with a sigh.’

The second said, ‘we're not long married.
I haven't seen her for a year.
I made her promise to be faithful
When we were parted by the War.

I've got to trust her. If I didn't,
How could a man get through this hell?
I like to think she kids herself
It's me, each time she hears the bell.’

The third just sighed and thought of her –
The wife that he had left behind.
He's had no letter since last summer.
She is behind the German lines...

1943