Vladimir Vysotsky. In a Faraway Kingdom.

Commentary to the song “There are no more green oak trees...”

This song is a variation on the theme of the prologue to Alexander Pushkin’s poem “Ruslan and Ludmila” (this text is adapted from Walter Arndt, Yevg­e­ny Bon­ver, Ju­li­an Henry Lowenfeld and Irina Zheleznova’s translations):

There’s a green oak by a cove curving,
A gold chain on that oak is found:
Both day and night a cat most learned
Perambulates by it around;
When walking right — performs he ditties,
When walking left — tells fairy tails.
It’s a rare place! A nymph there sits in
The thick of branches; there on trails
Unknown to man move beasts unseen by
His eyes; there stands on chicken feet,
Without a door or e’en a window,
A tiny hut, a sprite’s retreat;
The wood there and the vale are teeming
With wondrous visions; when dawn comes, gleaming
Waves o’er the empty beach there creep,
And, from the clearest shining waters,
Step thirty armored knights escorted
By their sea tutor, of the deep
An old resider; in his passing,
A prince there makes a king his slave;
In clouds there, or the people’s massing,
Across the wood, across the wave,
A warlock bears a warrior brave;
In prison there a fair princess sheds tears,
And a brown wolf transmits her letters;
There glides, as if it has some feet,
A mortar with a witch in it;
There King Koshchey o’er his gold molders;
There Russian’s all... There Rus’ gives odors!
Once there I stayed, drank ale and mead,
Saw the green oak by the cove curving,
Sat under it, and the cat learned
His fairy tales to me would read.
One of these tales have I recalled now,
And will discover it to all ones...

The thirty-three strong men are formerly Soviet republics, their former sea tutor, who criticizes everything, is Boris Yeltsin, Flibbertigibbet is Mi­khail Gor­ba­chev, and the house burnt by him symbolizes the Soviet Union.

At present, the destruction of the lungs of our planet, the tropical forests, is continuing, and if the existing rates of logging be maintained, they will be com­plete­ly destroyed in less than a hundred years. As wrote Porphyry Ivanov, peace be upon him, in his article “How to Get Rid of Diseases and Become Healthy”, it would be good for us to recall Krylov’s fable “The Pig under the Oak”.

There is a good fairy tale about the forest, which should be read to all the children — this is Upton Sinclair’s “The Gnomobile”.

It is pertinent to give here a version of Raisa Kudasheva’s song “A fir-tree, green and little...” (this text is partly inspired by Arthur Durando and Irina Po­po­va’s trans­la­tion):

A fir-tree, green and little,

There grew up in the wood.

In summer and in winter,

She was in a good mood.

In summer and in winter,

She was in a good mood.

The wind sang her his cradle-song,

“Sleep little fir, sleep tight!”

With snow, the frost bedecked her,

It was a pretty sight!

With snow, the frost bedecked her,

It was a pretty sight!

At times a trembling hare

Was hidden by her arms —

He was out of harm’s way there,

The hungry wolf went past.

He was out of harm’s way there,

The hungry wolf went past.

And when the harmful insects

Came to offend the fir,

The pecker, her physician,

Was there to safe-guard her.

The pecker, her physician,

Was there to safe-guard her.

Thus she became a slimmish

And tall eye-filling tree.

With her green blithesome sisters,

She in good concord lived.

With her green blithesome sisters,

She in good concord lived.

Here also comes to mind Eduard Uspensky’s song “The Blue Railcar” (this text is adapted from two translations by anonymous authors and Tatiana Avash’s trans­la­tion):

One by one the minutes slowly slip away,

Don’t expect to meet with them once more.

We regret a bit that our past can’t stay,

But the future’s waiting at the door.

Our road does lead us through the woods and leas

Right to the distant parts where we belong.

In the best ahead, each one of us believes,

And our blue railcar rolls on and on.

Maybe thou’rt angered at someone for naught —

The next annal will neutralize that script.

Now we a path to new adventures plot,

Hey, ye driver, put the train on speed!

Our road does lead us through the woods and leas

Right to the distant parts where we belong.

In the best ahead, each one of us believes,

And our blue railcar rolls on and on.

Our blue railcar runs forward as it sways,

The express train’s speeding up ahead.

Oh, why’s this day coming to an end, I’m dazed,

Wish it’d last the whole year instead!

Our road does lead us through the woods and leas

Right to the distant parts where we belong.

In the best ahead, each one of us believes,

And our blue railcar rolls on and on.

In the best ahead, each one of us believes,

And our blue railcar rolls on and on.

And, of course, it is pertinent to recall here Gabdulla Tukay’s poem “My Village”.

The song was written in 1967.

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