The Russian poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky visited the USA in the 1920s …
“But just consider my situation. A poet’s been invited. They’ve been told he’s a genius. A genius – that’s even better than being well known. I arrive and right off say “Gif me pliz am tee”.
They serve me. I wait a bit and then , “Gife me pliz …”.
They serve me again.
And I keep it up, varying the intonations and the phrasing. “Gife me de sam tee, sam tee de gif me”. I say my say.
The evening proceeds.
Bespectful old fellows listen reverentially. “There’s a Russian for you. Doesn’t waste words. He’s a thinker … Tolstoy … The North”.
But the ladies move away when they hear for the hundredth time that same request for tea, even though it’s enunciated in a pleasant bass voice. And the gentlemen distribute themselves in the corners of the room laughing at my expense.
So I shout to Burliuk: “You translate this to them. Tell them that if they knew Russian, I could, without even dirtying my shirtfront, nail them with my tongue to the cross of their own suspenders, that I could roast this whole collection of insects on the sharp turnspit of my tongue”.
And the honest Burliuk translates. “My eminent friend Vladimir Vladimirovich wants another cup of tea”