Poetry: In the Tavern by Hristo Botev

Hristo Botev is still a national hero in Bulgaria.

Hristo Botev is still a national hero in Bulgaria.

It’s been a while since we had some cultural stuff on this blog, so it’s high time for a poem. This one is from a man that we hope to present to you soon in our section of great drunks in world history. Hristo Botev was a Bulgarian freedom fighter in the 19th century as his country was trying to shake off 500 years of Ottoman oppression. In 1876 he was killed by a Turkish sniper. However Botev was more than a brave revolutionair. He studied poetry in the Ukranian city Odessa and had a real talent with words. One of the best examples is the following poem called “In the Tavern”. Enjoy.

In the Tavern (Hristo Botev)

It’s hard, it’s hard, so give me wine.
Drunk, I can forget the face
the thing you fools cannot define:
where lies glory – and disgrace.

Forget the country of my birth,
my father’s dear homely nest,
and those whose souls were never curbed,
whose fighting soul was their bequest.

Forget my family in their need,
my father’s grave, my mother’s tears,
and those who’d steal a crust of bread
with all the aristocratic airs.

The rich man with his crookedness,
the merchant thirsting for his plunder,
the priest reciting holy mass,
rob from the people who must hunger.

Rob them. All you wanton band.
Rob them. Who will make a fuss?
Soon they’ll be too tight to stand:
every hand holds up a glass.

We drink, we sing with recklessness,
we snarl against the tyrant foe,
the taverns are too small for us –
we shout: “To the mountains we shall.

We shout, but when we’re sober
we forget our pledges and our phrases
and say no more, and roar with laughter
at the people’s sacrifices.

While all the time the tyrant rages
and ravages our native home,
slaughters, hangs and flogs and curses
then fines the people he has tamed.

So fill the glass and let me drink.
Bring my soul its soothing gift
and kill the sober way I think
and let my manly hand grow soft.

I’ll drink, despite the enemy,
despite all you, great patriots.
There’s nothing near and dear to me,
and you… well. you are idiots.


7 thoughts on “Poetry: In the Tavern by Hristo Botev

  1. What a great finishing line! I really enjoyed this poem, and sympathise with the sentiment. Alcohol does layer the soul with soothing balm, but unfortunately it never lasts! you have a unique and entertaining blog here!


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