Nikolai Stepanovich Gumil

1886 - 1921 / Russia

Three Wives Of A Mandarin

Lawful wife.

There is still some wine left in the chalice,
And the plate that’s served is nests of the swallows.
Since the birth of time, the legal spouse
Is respected by her mandarin-husband.

Concubine

There is still some wine left in the chalice,
And the plate is served – duck: fat and heavy;
Should a mandarin be deprived of children -
Concubine is needed for a mandarin.

Maid

There is still some wine left in the chalice,
And the plate is served - preserves and marmalade.
Why the two of you are in his house?
Every night a new woman he desires.

Mandarin

There is no more wine left in the chalice,
And the plate that’s served is hot red pepper.
Silence! O you: bunch of silly blabbers,
Dare you laughing at the poor old mandarin.
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