Poems and Songs of Vladimir Vysotsky. A Song of Rossia.


I. A Song of Rossia.Adapted from Thomas Beavitt, Vyacheslav Chetin, Stas and Margaret
Porokhnya and Natalia Tverskova’s translations by Akbar Muhammad.

To Mikhail Shemyakin.

What’ll my breathing, what’ll my looking bring to me today?
Dense and viscous is the air before storm rains.
What’ll I hear, what’ll be revealed to me to sing, to say?
Here sing birds from fairy tales, foretelling changes.

From the left the gladsome Sirin joyfully smiles at me —
Tries to trap a living soul in her host,
While another fairy bird is quite in front of me —
It’s the dismal, strange, uncanny Alkonost.

Suddenly came to heart a tune
Of the seven sacred strings —
It’s the wise bird Gamayun
Puts her confidence in me!

In the blue sky, pierced by countless bell-towers,
Sound copper bells, declaring bliss or hell.
In Rossia, cupolas are with pure gold covered,
With the hope that in God’s Eyes they’ll look well.

Here I’m standing, having faced an everlasting riddle,
Looking o’er the great and mythic clime,
All admiring of this salty-bitter-sour-sweet
Azure land of pure wellsprings and rye.

My true steed through the thick mud is lumbering,
He just sinks in that mud stirrup-deep,
But bears me through the great power slumbering,
Which is going to rise from her sleep.

As if seven wealthy moons
Came to high, and far I see —
It’s the wise bird Gamayun
Puts her confidence in me!

And my battered, scorned, abused, bruised, weary soul —
Where her flesh appears through her threadbare fell —
Will be pieced by me with patches of pure gold,
With the hope that in God’s Eyes she’ll look well.


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