Wonder what Iíll see today, how I will breathe today. Soon thereíll be a thunderstorm - the air is tingling. Wonder what Iíll sing today, what songs Iíll hear, pray? Seems like birds from fairytales are sweetly singing. Sirinís flapping its wings, laughing joyously, Calling gaily to me from the nest; And the sad bird is crying most grievously - My heartís riven by weird Alkonost. Seven magical strings rang Wondrously, melodiously - That is holy Hamayun Giving hope to me. Over countless domes of churches blue skies hover. Copper bells are pealing, over, over and over... Hard to say if itís in anger or in joy. Here in Russia, domes with purest gold are covered - That they oftener may catch the Lordís eye. Here I stand before a hoary ancient mystery, Here I stand before a fairytale vast land - Salty, bitter, sour, sweet and slightly gingery - Land of blue skies, rye and clear springs, here I stand. Horses sink in the mud to the stirrups, In the rusty mud, glossy and deep, But they drag me across this unstirring Drowsy land, limp and swollen with sleep. Itís as if seven rich moons Lit my pathway suddenly: That is holy Hamayun Giving hope to me! Now, my soulís been worn by losses and by loneliness, Torn by eddies, rapids, and by my unrest; Now that my blood oozes slowly, and goes dry I will patch it up with golden brocade - with the best - That it oftener might catch the Lordís eye!
1 Sirin - in Russian folklore, a mythological bird with a womanís face and breast (cf. "siren"). Alkonost is the Alcyone or Halcyone of Greek mythology, daughter of Aeolus, turned into a diver by the gods for her impertinence. Hamayun is a fabulous clairvoyant bird with a human face. One may assume that the three birds did not fly into Vysotskyís song straight from folklore but via two of Blokís Poems: "Hamayun, the Prophetic Bird" and "Sirin and Alkonost. The Birds of Joy and Sadness".
© Sergei Roy. Translation, 1990