12-5-1005

 

Булат Шалвович Окуджава

BULAT OKUDZHAVA

(1924 - 1997)

 

 

HAARETZ.com

 

Mon., November 01, 2004 Cheshvan 17, 5765

Immortalizing a great Russian bard

By Lily Galili

This article here

 

LINKS:

           

Articles in Russian

O O O O O

Articles in English

O O O O O

Poems in Russian

O O O O O
  O O O O O

Poems in English (transl.)

O O O O O
  O O O O O

  

Дежурный по апрелю

Жанне Болотовой                    
Ах, какие удивительные ночи!
Только мама моя в грусти и тревоге:
"Что же ты гуляешь, мой сыночек,
Одинокий, одинокий?"
Из конца в конец апреля путь держу я.
Стали звезды и крупнее и добрее.
"Мама, мама, это я дежурю,
Я дежурный по апрелю!"
"Мой сыночек, вспоминаю все, что было.
Стали грустными глаза твои, сыночек.
Может быть, она тебя забыла,
Знать не хочет, знать не хочет?"
Из конца в конец апреля путь держу я.
Стали звезды и крупнее и добрее.
"Что ты, мама, просто я дежурю,
Я дежурный по апрелю.
1960

 

April Duty
 
 
But the nights are really absolutely stunning. 
Only mother's restless worrying has grown: 
Why must you go wandering, my honey, 
On your own? On your own? 
 
I run from one end of April to the other. 
Stars above me mellowed down, grew big as apples. 
Nothing's wrong: I am on duty, mother. 
I'm responsible for April. 
 
But my baby, things have changed since you've been roaming.
But my child, your eyes are sad, I don't believe you. 
Has there been some trouble with a woman? 
Did she leave you?  Did she leave you? 
 
I run from one end of April to the other. 
Stars above me mellowed down, grew big as apples. 
Please don't worry: I am on duty, mother. 
I'm responsible for April. 

 

 

 
  My thanks to Tanya Jean Wolfson,  who permitted the reprodution of her translation of this poem.  

 

 

 

Песенка об Арбате

 

Ты течёшь, как река. Странное название!

И прозрачен асфальт, как в реке вода.

Ах, Арбат, мой Арбат, ты - моё призвание,

Ты - и радость моя, и моя беда.

 

Пешеходы твои - люди не великие,

Каблуками стучат - по делам спешат.

Ах, Арбат, мой Арбат, ты - моя религия,

Мостовые твои подо мной лежат.

 

От любови твоей вовсе не излечишься,

Сорок тысяч других мостовых любя,

Ах, Арбат, мой Арбат, ты - моё отечество,

Никогда до конца не пройти тебя!

 

1959

 

Song of the Arbat 

 

You flow like a river with your strange         name

And your asphalt transparent like water in a        river.

Oh my Arbat, you are my vocation,

You are my joy and my misfortune.

 

Your pedestrians are not exalted people,

Their heels pound, they hurry on their way.

Oh my Arbat, you are my religion,

Your roadway lies beneath me. 

 

I will never get over loving you,

Even loving forty thousand other roadways.

Oh my Arbat, you are my native land,

No one could ever come to the end of you.

 

 

 

English translation from here

 

 

Молитва Франсуа Вийона

 

Пока Земля еще вертится,

Пока еще ярок свет,

Господи, дай же Ты каждому,

Чего у него нет.

 

Умному дай голову,

Трусливому дай коня,

Дай счастливому денег,

И не забудь про меня...

 

Пока Земля еще вертится,

Господи - Твоя власть,

Дай рвущемуся к власти

Навластвоваться всласть.

 

Дай передышку щедрому,

Хоть до исхода дня.

Каину дай раскаянье,

И не забудь про меня...

 

Я знаю, Ты все умеешь,

Я верую в мудрость Твою,

Как верит солдат убитый,

Что он проживает в раю,

 

Как верует каждое ухо

Тихим речам Твоим,

Как веруем и мы сами,

Не ведая, что творим.

 

Господи Ты мой Боже,

Зеленоглазый мой,

Пока Земля еше вертится,

И это ей странно самой,

 

Покуда еще хватает

Времени и огня, -

Дай же Ты всем понемногу,

И не забудь про меня..

 

 FranÁois Villonís Prayer 

 

 

 

While the earth is still turning, while the     light is still bright,

Lord, grant Thou to each man that which he        lacks:

To the wise man grant brains, to the coward       a steed,

Grant the lucky man moneyÖAnd donít       forget about me.

 

While the earth is still turning,--Lord, it is      in Thy power!--

Grant the man who wants power to rule to      his heartís content,

Grant the generous man a respite, if only to     the end of the day,

To Cain grant repentenceÖAnd donít       forget about me.

 

All is in Thy power: I believe in Thy        wisdom,

As the dead soldier believes heís living in        heaven,

As each ear believes Thy silent speeches,

As we ourselves believe, not knowing what        we do.

 

 

 

 

Lord, my God, my green-eyed one!

While the earth is still turning, amazed itís      still turning,

While it still has time and fire,

Grant Thou a little to everyoneÖAnd donít      forget about me.

 

 

English translation from here

 

 

 

 

МЕДСЕСТРА МАРИЯ

 

А что я сказал медсестре Марии,
когда обнимал ее?
- Ты знаешь, а вот офицерские дочки
на нас, на солдат, не глядят.
 
А поле клевера было под нами,
тихое, как река.
И волны клевера набегали,
и мы качались на них.
 
И Мария, раскинув руки,
плыла по этой реке.
И были черными и бездонными
голубые ее глаза.
 
И я сказал медсестре Марии,
когда наступил рассвет:
- Нет, ты представь: офицерские дочки
на нас и глядеть не хотят.

 

 

 

 

 

Maria the Nurse

 

What did I say to Maria the nurse
when I was hugging her?
ďYou know that officerís daughters
donít look on us soldiers.Ē

 

And the field of clovers was beneath us
quite like the river.
And the waves of the clovers became higher
and we swayed upon them.

 

And Maria, opening her arms,
swam down the river.
And black and eternal
were her light-blue eyes.

 

And when sunrise arrived
I told Maria
ďNo, imagine that officerís daughters
donít wish to look at us.Ē

 

 

1950

 

Translation into English by Robert Young, from here.

 

 

 

Все глуше музыка души, 
все звонче музыка атаки. 
Но ты об этом не спеши: 
не обмануться бы во мраке, 
что звонче музыка атаки, 
что глуше музыка души. 

 

Чем громче музыка атак, 
тем слаще мед огней домашних, 
и это было только так 
в моих скитаниях вчерашних: 
тем слаще мед огней домашних, 
чем громче музыка атак. 

 

Из глубины ушедших лет
еще вернее, чем когда-то -- 
чем громче музыка побед,
тем горше каждая утрата,
еще вернее, чем когда-то,
из глубины ушедших лет.

 

И это все у нас в крови,
хоть этому не обучали:
чем чище музыка любви,
тем громче музыка печали,
чем громче музыка печали,
тем выше музыка любви.

 

1985

 

The music of the soul is ever fainter,

the music of the attack is ever more resonant.

But donít hasten (to comment) on that:

so as not to be deceived in the darkness,

that the music of the attack is more resonant,

and the music of the soul ever fainter.

 

the louder is the music of the attacks,

the sweeter is the honey of the lights of home.

And this was only that way

in my yesterdayís wanderings:

the sweeter the honey of the lights of home,

the louder the music of the attacks.

 

From out of the depths of years gone by

more sure than ever before,

the more resonant the music of victories,

the more bitter is every loss,

the surer than ever before,

from the depths of years gone by.

 

And this is all in our blood,

even though we were not taught it:

the more sublime the music of love,

the louder is the music of grief,

the louder is the music of grief,

the more pure is the music of love.

 

 

 

 

 

Как наш двор ни обижали -- он в классической поре. 
С ним теперь уже не справиться, хоть он и безоружен.
 
А там -- Володя во дворе,
 
его струны в серебре,
 
его пальцы золотые, голос его нужен.
 

 

Как с гитарой ни боролись -- распалялся струнный звон. 
Как вино стихов ни портили -- все крепче становилось.
 
А кто сначала вышел вон,
 
а кто потом украл вагон --
 
все теперь перемешалось, все объединилось.
 

 

 

Может, кто и нынче снова хрипоте его не рад... 
Может, кто намеревается подлить в стихи елея.
 
А ведь и песни не горят,
 
они в воздухе парят,
 
чем им делают больнее, тем они сильнее.
 

 

 

Что ж печалиться напрасно? Нынче слезы -- лей не лей, 
но запомним хорошенечко и повод, и причину...
 
Ведь мы воспели королей,
 
от Таганки до Филей --
 
пусть они теперь поэту воздадут по чину!
 

 

1982 (?)

 

No matter how they insulted our courtyard, itís in a classic period.

No way of coping with it now even though itís been disarmed.

Thereís Volodya in the courtyard

with his silver strings,

his golden fingers, his voice is needed.

 

No matter how they fought against the guitar, the peal of strings kept getting hotter.

No matter how they watered the wine of verse, it kept getting stronger.

Who was the first to leave,

who then stole the wagon,

itís all mixed up now, all rolled into one.

 

 

Maybe someone even now isnít happy about his hoarse voice again.

Maybe someone intends to slip some unction into the poems...

But after all, songs do not burn,

They hover in the air,

The more painful itís made for them, the stronger they gel.

 

Why be sad for no good reason: these days, weep or not,

Weíll remember very well the cause and the reason...

For after all, we sang the praises of kings

from the Taganka to Fili,

may they now pay tribute to the poem according to his rank.

 

 

 

 

 

Римская империя

 

Римская империя времени упадка 
сохраняла видимость твердого порядка:
 
Цезарь был на месте, соратники рядом,
 
жизнь была прекрасна, судя по докладам.
А критики скажут, что слово "соратник" -- не римская деталь,
 
что эта ошибка всю песенку смысла лишает...
 
Может быть, может быть, может и не римская -- не жаль,
 
мне это совсем не мешает, а даже меня возвышает.
 

 

Римляне империи времени упадка 
ели что придется, напивались гадко,
и с похмелья каждый на рассол был падок --
 
видимо, не знали, что у них упадок.
 
А критики скажут, что слово "рассол", мол, не римская деталь,
 
что эта ошибка всю песенку смысла лишает...
 
Может быть, может быть, может и не римская -- не жаль,
 
мне это совсем не мешает, а даже меня возвышает.
 

 

Юношам империи времени упадка 
снились постоянно то скатка, то схватка:
 
то они -- в атаке, то они -- в окопе,
 
то вдруг -- на Памире, а то вдруг -- в Европе.
 
А критики скажут, что "скатка", представьте, не римская деталь,
 
что эта ошибка, представьте, всю песенку смысла лишает...
 
Может быть, может быть, может и не римская -- не жаль,
 
мне это совсем не мешает, а даже меня возвышает.
 

 

Римлянкам империи времени упадка, 
только им, красавицам, доставалось сладко --
 
все пути открыты перед ихним взором:
 
хочешь -- на работу, а хочешь -- на форум.
 
А критики хором: "Ах, ęфорумĽ, ах, ęфорумĽ" -- вот римская деталь!
 
Одно лишь словечко -- а песенку как украшает!
 
Может быть, может быть, может и римская -- а жаль...
 
Мне это немного мешает и замысел мой разрушает.

 

 1979

 

   

 

 

The Roman empire in its period of decline

retained the appearance of firm order.

The chief was in place, his comrades-in-arms by his side,

life was fine, judging by the reports.

 

But critics will say that the word ďcomrades-in-armsĒ isnít a Roman item,

that this mistake deprives the whole song of sense.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps it isnít Roman, Iím not sorry,

this doesnít hinder me at all, and even lifts me up.

 

The youths of the empire in its period of decline

dreamed constantly of rolled-up capes and combat.

First theyíd be on the attack, then in the trenches,

Now in the Pamirs, and then suddenly in Europe.

 

But critics will say that the word ďcapes,Ē imagine, isnít a Roman item,

that this mistake deprives the whole song of sense.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps it isnít Roman, Iím not sorry,

this doesnít hinder me at all, and even lifts me op.

 

The peasants of the empire in its period of decline

ate what they could gel hold of, and got vilely drunk.

And as a cure for their hangovers each one was partial to rassol Ė

They evidently didnít know there was a decline.

 

But critics will say that the word ďrassolĒ isnít a Roman item,

that this mistake deprives the whole song of sense.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps it isnít Roman, Iím not sorry,

this doesnít hinder me at all,

and even lifts me op.

 

The women of the empire in its period of decline

They were the only ones, those beauties, whose lot was sweet.

All paths were open before their gaze,

if they wanted they went to work, if they didnít they went lo the forum.

 

And the critics in chorus: Oh, the forum, oh, the forum, thereís a Roman item!

Just one little word, But how it improves the song!

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps itís Roman, But Iím sorry,

it hinders me a bit

and destroys my idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

У поэта соперников нету
ни на улице и ни в судьбе. 
И когда он кричит всему свету, 
это он не о вас -- о себе. 

Руки тонкие к небу возносит, 
жизнь и силы по капле губя. 
Догорает, прощения просит... 
Это он не за вас -- за себя. 

Но когда достигает предела,
и душа отлетает во тьму --
оле пройдено, сделано дело...
Вам решать: для чего и кому.

То ли мед, то ли горькая чаша, 
то ли адский огонь, то ли храм...
Все, что было его -- нынче ваше.
Все для вас. Посвящается вам.

 

1986

The poet has no rivals

either on the street or in his destiny.

And when he cries out lo the whole world,

itís not about you, but about himself.

 

He raises his delicate hands op lo heaven,

expending his life and powers drop by drop.

Burning out, he asks for forgiveness,

not for you, but for himself.

 

But when he reaches the limit

and his soul flies off into darkness...

The fieldís been crossedí the deed is done.

Itís for you lo decide for what and for whom.

 

Whether honey, or a bitter cup,

or the fires of hell, or a temple...

Everything that was his now is yours.

All for you. Dedicated to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Давайте придумаем деспота, 
чтоб в душах царил он один
 
от возраста самого детского
 
и до благородных седин.
 

Усы ему вырастим пышные 
и хищные вставим глаза,
 
сапожки натянем неслышные,
 
и проголосуем все -- за.
 

Давайте придумаем деспота, 
придумаем, как захотим.
Потом будет спрашивать не с кого,
коль вместе его создадим.

И пусть он над нами куражится
и пальцем грозится из тьмы,
пока наконец не окажется,
что сами им созданы мы.

1979

 

Letís dream up a despot,

who will role alone in our hearts

from the most childish age

right down to noble gray hairs.

 

Letís have him grow a luxuriant moustache

and letís put in rapacious eyes,

pull on jackboots that make no noise,

and letís all vote yes.

 

Letís dream up a despot,

dream one up the way we want him.

Later there will be no one lo ask,

if we create him together.

 

And letís have him posture over us

and threaten from the darkness with a finger,

until at last it turns out

that we ourselves were created by him.

 

 

 

Примета

А.Жигулину              

Если ворон в вышине,
дело, стало быть, к войне.

Чтобы не было войны,
надо ворона убить.
Чтобы ворона убить,
надо ружья зарядить.

А как станем заряжать,
всем захочется стрелять.
Ну а как стрельба пойдет,
пуля дырочку найдет.

Ей не жалко никого,
ей попасть бы хоть в кого,
хоть в чужого, хоть в свово..
Во, и боле ничего.

Во, и боле ничего.
Во, и боле никого.
Кроме ворона того:
стрельнуть некому в него.

 

1984

 

The Omen

 

to A. Zhigulin           

 

If there is a raven up above

It means things are moving toward war.

 

So there shouldnít be a war

The raven has to be killed.

To kill the raven

A gun has to be loaded.

 

But when we start loading it

Everyone will want to shoot.

And as soon as the shooting starts

The bullet will find a hole.

 

The bullet pities nobody,

Wants lo hit just anybody,

One of theirs, one of ours...

Thatís it, thereís nothing more.

 

Thatís it, thereís nothing more.

Thatís it, thereís nobody left.

Except for that raven,

And now thereís nobody to shoot it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Письмо к маме

 

 

Ты сидишь на нарах посреди Москвы. 
Голова кружится от слепой тоски. 
На окне -- намордник, воля -- за стеной, 
ниточка порвалась меж тобой и мной. 
За железной дверью топчется солдат... 
Прости его, мама: он не виноват, 
он себе на душу греха не берет -- 
он не за себя ведь -- он за весь народ. 

 

Следователь юный машет кулаком. 
Ему так привычно звать тебя врагом. 
За свою работу рад он попотеть... 
Или ему тоже в камере сидеть! 
В голове убогой -- трехэтажный мат... 
Прости его, мама: он не виноват, 
он себе на душу греха не берет -- 
он не за себя ведь -- он за весь народ. 

 

Чуть за Красноярском -- твой лесоповал. 
Конвоир на фронте сроду не бывал. 
Он тебя прикладом, он тебя пинком, 
чтоб тебе не думать больше ни о ком. 
Тулуп на нем жарок, да холоден взгляд... 
Прости его, мама: он не виноват, 
он себе на душу греха не берет -- 
он не за себя ведь -- он за весь народ. 

 

Вождь укрылся в башне у Москвы-реки. 
У него от страха паралич руки. 
Он не доверяет больше никому, 
словно сам построил для себя тюрьму. 
Все ему подвластно, да опять не рад... 
Прости его, мама: он не виноват, 
он себе на душу греха не берет -- 
он не за себя ведь -- он за весь народ. 

 

1987

 

Letter to My Mom

 

 

Youíre sitting on your wooden planks in the middle of Moscow.

Your headís spinning from blind anguish.

On the window is a muzzle, freedomís the other side of the wall.

the thread between you and me is broken.

Behind the iron door struts a soldier...

Forgive him, mom, heís not to blame,

he doesnít take any sin onto his soul,

heís not doing it for himself, after all, heís doing it for the whole people.

 

The youthful investigator waves his fist.

Itís so normal for him lo call you an enemy.

Heís glad to sweat at his work...

Or should he too be sitting in a cell?

In his pathetic head are three-storey curses...

Forgive him, mom, heís not to blame,

he doesnít take any sin onto his soul,

heís not doing it for himself, after all, heís doing it for the whole people.

 

A bit further than Krasnoyarsk is your logging camp.

The guard has never been at the front.

Heíll [hit] you with his rifle butt, give you a kick,

so youíll never think anymore about anyone.

His fur coatís hot, but his glance is coldÖ

Forgive him, mom, heís not to blame,

he doesnít take any sin onto his soul,

heís not doing it for himself, after all, heís doing it for the whole people.

 

The leaderís hidden himself in the tower by the Moscow River.

From fear he has paralysis of one arm.

He doesnít trust anyone anymore,

as if heíd built a prison for himself

Everythingís in his power, but heís still not happy...

Forgive him, mom, heís not to blame,

he doesnít take any sin onto his soul,

heís not doing it for himself, after all, heís doing it for the whole people.

 

 

 

 

 

Памяти А.Д.Сахарова

Когда начинается речь, что пропала духовность, 
что людям отныне дорога сквозь темень лежит,
 
в глазах удивленных и в душах святая готовность
 
пойти и погибнуть, как новое пламя дрожит.
 

И это не есть обольщение или ошибка, 
а это действительно гордое пламя костра,
 
и в пламени праведном этом надежды улыбка
 
на бледных губах проступает, и совесть остра.
 

Полночные их силуэты пугают загадкой. 
С фортуны не спросишь -- она свои тайны хранит.
 
И рано еще упиваться победою сладкой,
 
еще до рассвета далече...
И сердце щемит.

1990

 

To the memory of A. D. Sakharov

 

 

When a speech begins, saying that spirituality has been lost,

that the way for people from now on lies through darkness,

in their astounded eyes and in their souls a holy readiness

to go forth and perish trembles like a new flame.

 

 

And this is not delusion or error,

it is the genuinely proud flame of a bonfire,

and in this just flame a smile of hope

comes over pale lips, and conscience is keen.

 

 

Their midnight silhouettes scare one with their enigma.

Of fortune you must'n ask; she keeps her secrets.

And itís too early yet to relish sweet victory,

itís still a long way to dawn... And my heart aches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Антону

Что-то сыночек мой уединением стал тяготиться.
Разве прекрасное в шумной компании может родиться?
Там и мыслишки, внезапно явившейся, не уберечь:
в уши разверстые только напрасная просится речь.

Папочка твой не случайно сработал надежный свой кокон.
Он состоит из дубовых дверей и зашторенных окон.
Он состоит из надменных замков и щеколд золотых...
Лица незваные с благоговением смотрят на них.

Чем же твой папочка в коконе этом прокуренном занят?
Верит ли в то, что перо не продаст, что строка не обманет?
Верит ли вновь, как всю жизнь, в обольщения вечных химер:
в гибель зловещего Зла и в победу Добра, например?

Шумные гости, не то чтобы циники -- дети стихии,
ищут себе вдохновенья и радостей в годы лихие,
не замечая, как вновь во все стороны щепки летят,
черного Зла не боятся, да вот и Добра не хотят.

Все справедливо. Там новые звуки рождаются глухо.
Это мелодия. К ней и повернуто папочки ухо.
Но неуверенно как-то склоняется вниз голова:
музыка нравится, но непонятные льются слова.

Папочка делает вид, что и нынче он истиной правит.
То ли и впрямь не устал обольщаться, а то ли лукавит,
что, мол, гармония с верою будут в одно сведены...
Только никто не дает за нее даже малой цены.

Все справедливо. И пусть он лелеет и холит свой кокон.
Вы же ликуйте и иронизируйте шумно и скопом,
но погрустите хотя бы, увидев, как сходит на нет
серый, чужой, старомодный, сутулый его силуэт.

1989

 

 

 

 

 

My son seems to be finding seclusion hard to take.

But the beautiful canít be born in noisy company, can it?

There, you canít keep a hold on a little thought that suddenly appears:

into ears wide open only pointless speech asks lo enter.

 

Your daddy bas deliberately constructed his reliable cocoon.

consists of oaken doors and shuttered windows.

It consists of haughty locks and golden latches...

Uninvited persons look at them with reverence.

 

What is your daddy busy with in this smoke-filled cocoon?

Does he believe that his pen wonít betray him, his verse line wonít deceive?

Does he believe once again, as he has all his life, in the eternal chimeras of enchantment:

the downfall of malevolent Evil, the victory of Good, for example?

 

The noisy guests arenít really cynics, theyíre children of their habitat,

searching for inspiration and joy in these difficult years,

not noticing that once again the chips are flying in all directions,

theyíre not scared of black Evil, neither do they want Good.

 

Everythingís fair. New sounds are obscurely being born there.

Itís a melody. Daddyís ear too is bent to it.

But somehow his head hangs down, unsure,

the musicís nice, But incomprehensible words pour out.

 

Daddy pretends that nowadays he still controls the truth.

Could be he really isnít tired of enchantment, or perhaps heís being cunning,

saying that harmony and faith will be brought into one...

Only, nobody gives even a small price for it.

 

Everythingís fair. Let him cherish and tend his cocoon.

As for you, you can rejoice and make fun noisily in a bunch,

but be sad, at least, when you see fading to nothing

his gray, alien, old-fashioned, hunched silhouette.

 
 
  The last 9 poems from: Contemporary Russian Poetry, A Bilingual Anthology, Selected, with an Introduction, Translation, and Notes by Gerald S. Smith, Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, 1993 ISBN 0-253-20769-X  

 

 

 

Other poems translated into English:

 

 

by Tanya Jean Wolfson, here:

 

Goodbye Boys

Black Cat

Smolensk Road

The Little Orchestra of Hope

A poem about my son's toy soldier

I take a slab of lovely red clay

Went to see mother -- but she died

 

by Maya Jouravel, here:

 

THE PRAYER OF FRAN«OIS VILLON

April is my duty

Lady Majestic

 
by Prof. Gerald Janecek, here:
 
Song of the Arbat
Francois Villonís Prayer
 

by Alec Vagapov, here:

 

FRANCOIS VILLONíS PRAYER

GEORGIAN SONG

THE BLUE AIR-BALLOON

THE TIMES

ďWill you please be so kind as to pull down the blinds, and,Ē

Nurse, you needn't prepare for me any dope.

Let's shout and rejoice, admire one another.

I need someone to worship and admire.

You're not drunkards, you're not vagrants,

MOZART

Look here, your Majesty, Mrs. Separation,

Learning to paint

The Musician

Another Romance

THE GRASSHOPPERS

THE SONG OF A LONG ROAD

THE ARTISTS

THE HAPPY DRUMMER

THE SONG OF THE OLD STREET-ORGAN PLAYER

MY CITY IS ASLEEP

THE SONG OF THE OPEN DOOR

Wintertime. Night. Flying over the lampshade

THE CIRCUS

THE OLD JACKET

IĎve never hovered and Iíve never been

THE SONG OF MOSCOW NIGHTS

MY PORTRAIT DRAWN IN PENCIL

HOW I SAT ON THE TSARíS THRONE

THE NIGHT CONVERSATION

THE OMEN

The word is instant, and life is short.

Again Iíve encountered Hope, ó what a happy occasion!

THE PAPER SOLDIER

Sound of trumpet over cities

Darkness has covered the room aní

IN THE CITY PARK

THE SONG OF THE TRAMPLING JACKBOOTS

The music of the soul is flat,

THE LAST TROLLEY BUS

There are lions beside you, dear N.P.

All night the roosters uttered cries,

THE MAIN SONG

PHOTOGRAPHS OF MY FRIENDS

Here we stand, in desperation,

THE YARD IN ARBAT STREET

Unyielding, raged and free,

THE SONG OF A HAPPY SOLDIER

Iíve sung all my songs.

THE NIGHT DUTY IN APRIL

THE SONG OF ARTIST PYROSMANI

THE OLD STUDENTSí SONG

What can I do for you, grasshopper, dear,

After rain the sky

The tune swayed up and down, forward, backward,

Life is fine but itís strange, for a wonder,

My Hope, at this successive session

 

by William J. Comer, here

 

Song about the Moscow Metro
The Arbat
 

by Yevgeny Bonver, here:

 

Bard Doesn't Have..."
The Bossom Talk With My Son
The Cuirassier's Little Song
"The Eighteenth Age..."
Francois Villon

"I Fancied the Muse..."
"Involved In Earthly Zeal..."
The Islanders
"Let Us Think Out the Autocrat..."
The Little Joyful Drummer
The Little Song
The Little Song About the Foot
The Little Tin Soldier Of My Son
The Love To Motherland
My Generation
The Midnight Trolley Bus
"Now Falling..."
"Oh, You, Fancies..."
"The Old Men Do Not Fear..."
The Old Soldiers' Song
"The Poets Were Hunted..."
"Sister Of Mine..."
"There's the Special Music..."
"They Killed My Father..."
"Why Are You So Sad..."

 

by Murzin, here:

 

A WORD OF ADVICE TO MY FRIEND
THE MIRACULOUS WALT
TIME PASSES

THREE SISTERS

TENDERNESS MOUNTS AN ATTACK
I NEED SOMEONE TO ADORE
YOUR MAJESTY, WOMAN
GOODBYE, BOYS (AND GIRLS)
A PAPER SOLDIER
FORGIVE THE SOLDIERS...
THE MOST IMPORTANT SONG
 

 

 

 

 

HAARETZ.com

 

 

Mon., November 01, 2004 Cheshvan 17, 5765

 

Immortalizing a great Russian bard

 

By Lily Galili

A festival commemorating the poems and songs of Bulat Okudzhava, who became a symbol of humanity and protest against the Soviet bureaucracy, opens here Sunday.

Bulat Okudzhava wrote his poem about the Israeli-born female soldier on Eduard Kuznetsov and Larissa Gerstein's kitchen table in Jerusalem. It was in 1996, a year before his death, during one of his visits to Israel. "Your collar is thin/ dark-skinned sabra girl/ you carry a weapon./ But in your eyes is the look of a lady," wrote the Russian poet, as Gerstein feverishly typed the words on a typewriter, simultaneously setting them to music. It can be assumed that it was more the feminine appearance than the military look that touched the soul of the pacifist poet who loved women. When Gerstein played the song on the local Russian-language Reka radio station immediately after the lethal bombing of the Dolphinarium, the studio was inundated with dozens of calls from soldiers' mothers. All of them were crying. What Bulat Okudzhava did for millions of Russians suffering under the yoke of the Soviet regime he continued to do here for a million Russian-speaking immigrants.

A lone man and his guitar

A festival dedicated to Okudzhava begin this Sunday, on the day that would have been his 80th birthday. The fourth annual festival will include four concerts, to be held in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Be'er Sheva, with the participation of his widow, Olga, and well-known Russian poet-singers, including his student Veronika Dolina. It would be hard to overstate the importance of the event among the Russian-speaking community here. Okudzhava, like other "bards" over the generations - the Russian troubadours who were characterized by political and social statement, such as Vladimir Vysotsky, Josef Brodsky, Yevgeny Klatchkin and Aleksandr Galich - is a major figure in Russian culture.

 
Bulat Okudzaca
 

The vast majority of Russian bards are not entirely Russian. Some are Jews, a few are half-Jews. Okudzhava himself was Georgian (although he is not a favorite of the Georgians, who consider his outspoken Russianness to be an act of near-treason). Presumably, the identity of the bards is not coincidental. Perhaps it was more natural and more easy for these individuals, whose ethnic identity preserved a certain foreignness, to break free of the ethos of the Soviet ruler. A few, like Vysotsky, who was a popular stage actor in his time, prospered in Soviet Russia. Brodsky was persecuted by the authorities, a fact that earned him a sarcastic comment from the well-known poetess Anna Akhmatova, "What a glorious biography they are creating for this fellow." Okudzhava, a literary editor in a prestigious magazine, was extremely cautious. He had good reason to be so: his father was murdered by the authorities under Stalin. Although they may not have been persecuted, the bards were always under the watchful eye of the authorities. Nevertheless, or perhaps precisely for this reason, the bards expressed, to the sounds of a guitar, the most closely guarded emotions of the Soviet citizenry, and rebelled against the enlisted art. They gave birth to a style of quiet protest - the lone man and his guitar, the individual who feels a deep urge to express himself while pushing slightly the boundaries of what is permissible. In private homes and in the forests around the large cities, masses of people would gather to sing the songs of the bards, and songs composed by the participants.

This was not necessarily a blunt political statement. The deeper political message was embodied in the individualist act itself. A single man with a guitar could be interpreted as defiant protest, a victory of individualism over the collective. "Their quiet whisper reverberated louder than the enlisted collectivist singing," wrote Dr. Genady Guntar, who has translated Okudzhava into Hebrew, as he sat at the same exact table in the Kuznetsov household on which Okudzhava wrote his poem about the attractive sabra soldier.

Intelligent urban language

When Genady Guntar, a dentist by vocation, immigrated to Israel in 1972, he found that only a handful of poems by Okudzhava had been translated into Hebrew. The greatest contribution toward bringing bard culture to Israel had been made by Dudu Elharar, in a special record devoted to their songs. In Israel, Guntar became friendly with Yevgeny Klatchkin, who immigrated to Israel in the 1990s and died in a recent drowning accident. Klatchkin made a supreme effort to carry on the tradition of bard singing here, while fighting the struggle of absorption and professional survival as an engineer. At his behest, Guntar translated several poems by Okudzhava, who because of his simplicity is not easy to translate. "It is an intelligent urban language," says Guntar, trying to describe Okudzhava's unique language. "Verses of his poems became codes for the entire intelligentsia in Soviet Russia," adds Gerstein. Cultural codes, it is important to note, more than political codes.

This, then, is the essence of what makes Okudzhava unique: Brodsky is considered a complex poet, Vysotsky a more socially minded writer, anchored in the Soviet context. Among this group, Okudzhava is simply the most human, and therefore the most universal of them all. He articulated an outbreak of true feelings, in a reality in which the lie had been consecrated. For this reason, his simple poetry has survived the changing times and changes of regime.

A disk to dream about

Gerstein is now at work on a disk of Okudzhava songs in Hebrew and Russian. Through every stage of the production - from the little recording studio in Bat Yam to the printing press in Karmiel (both of which are owned by immigrants) - all of the parties involved in the project feel as if they are part of something that goes well beyond the mere production of a disk. Suppliers lower their prices of their own accord, and comply with the rigid schedule. It is their personal contribution to a man who once contributed to enriching their own lives.

The new disk bears the title of one of Bulat Okudzhava's poems, "Two Roads," which takes on a special meaning here: two roads as two languages, as an expression of the two cultures in which a million Russian-speakers in Israel find themselves.

"Two Roads" is also a symbolic expression of the choice to leave life there and come to Israel. "It isn't his best poem," admits Gerstein, "but it is true of our lives. There is one nice road, but it leads nowhere, and there is another road that is not as nice, but is essential. In my opinion, it is also a very Jewish statement."

In recent years, interest in Okudzhava has extended beyond Israel. The Bulat Okudzhava Foundation in Israel was the first to be established after his death. It was followed by foundations in Moscow, Germany, Poland, Sweden and the Czech Republic. As soon as the festival in Israel ends, the foundation will begin organizing a series of concerts in Okudzhava's memory in the United States.