White Elephant
by Rasul Reza (1910-1981 )

Written in Yangon, Myanmar
(formerly Rangoon, Burma)

I saw him for the first time in Rangoon
In the zoo.
In a colorful, grilled iron cage.
A lonely white elephant in an iron cage.
His eyes were black, as were his nails,
But he himself snow-white.
He looked at you in such a way
As if to speak.
One can rarely find a white elephant,
One can rarely find an elephant in captivity.
He left the forest a year ago,
And can't stand his heartache in the cage.
And very often
He raises his trunk and roars,
Shedding crocodile tears,
And calling on his free brothers
To help him.
They say that elephants live long lives.
White elephant, white elephant!
Do you need a long life
Imprisoned in a cage for a hundred years?
White elephant, white elephant!

Translated by Aynur Hajiyeva

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