Translating the poem "Unsharpened blade"

This poem is about the very first years of Max’s life as a personality combined of several others. The memories of being someone else before are still fresh and haunting: the fog, comrades dying, him unable to save them, him taking what was theirs: memories, skills.

The boy already knows to what purpose his masters created him: he is a living weapon, though unsharpened yet (he is still in training at the moment). He chooses to cooperate with them because he knows nothing else and has nowhere to go.

The “red eye” here is Hot Obsidian. This artefact has an ability to influence its bearer’s destiny and it for the moment it is determined to keep Max safe and doesn’t let him die.

The original Russian text:

Незаточенный клинок

Я хотел бы себя простить,
Только нет моих больше сил.
Я сумел бы и смерть победить,
Да клинка я не заточил.

Я сумел бы стихи вернуть,
Только слишком туман был густ,
Я хотел бы опять уснуть,
Только сон мой отныне пуст.

Я хотел бы поведать, что
Я однажды дышал и жил,
Только стыдно: забрал я то,
Чего сам я не заслужил.

Как сестру, я обнял бы смерть,
Да хранит меня красный глаз.
Я клянусь, я хотел успеть...
Только вновь никого не спас.

И, стыдясь самого себя,
Я теперь о себе молчу;
И в бессонной ночи любя
Свою жизнь, как клинок, точу.

My rough translation

Unsharpened blade

I would have forgiven myself,
But I’m no longer strong enough.
I would have defeated death
But I hadn’t sharpened my blade.

I would have gotten my poems back
But the fog was too thick,
I would have fallen asleep again
But my dreams are empty now.

I would have told you that
Once, I used to live and breathe,
But I’m too ashamed of having taken
What I had not deserved.

I would have embraced death like a sister
But the red eye is looking after me.
I swear I wanted to be there in time…
But I still didn’t save anyone.

So, ashamed of myself,
I keep silent about what I am.
With love and care, during my sleepless nights,
I sharpen my life like a blade.

Alan Jackson's translation:

Unsharpened Blade

I wanted to forgive myself
But I’d let my strength fade.
I could have defeated death
But I hadn’t sharpened my blade.

I could have got back my poems
But the fog was too dense.
I wanted to go back to sleep
But my dreams are a hollow pretence.

I wanted to explain to you that
I once had breath, blood, nerves;
But I couldn’t for shame; I’d taken
So much that I didn’t deserve.

I’d have kissed my sister Death,
But for the Red Eye’s care.
I swear I tried to be in time
But I failed to save anyone there.

So for shame I never speak
Of the me that I’ve made.
Through sleepless nights, carefully
I sharpen my life as a blade.


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About the project:
My scifi and fantasy novels have a lot of poems in them that can not be removed without destroying the plot. Alas, my English in not good enough for translating poetry. Alan Jackson helps me to translate the poems. It makes the translation of my novels possible.