Bulat Okudzhava - Beri shinell, poshli domoy(Бери шинель, пошли домой) (English translation)


Beri shinell, poshli domoy(Бери шинель, пошли домой)

А мы с тобой, брат, из пехоты,
А летом лучше, чем зимой.
С войной покончили мы счёты, (3 раза)
Бери шинель, пошли домой!
Война нас гнула и косила,
Пришёл конец и ей самой.
Четыре года мать без сына, (3 раза)
Бери шинель, пошли домой!
К золе и к пеплу наших улиц
Опять, опять, товарищ мой,
Скворцы пропавшие вернулись, (3 раза)
Бери шинель, пошли домой!
А ты с закрытыми очами
Спишь под фанерною звездой.
Вставай, вставай, однополчанин, (3 раза)
Бери шинель пошли домой!
Что я скажу твоим домашним,
Как встану я перед вдовой?
Неужто клясться днем вчерашним, (3 раза)
Бери шинель пошли домой!
Мы все - войны шальные дети,
И генерал, и рядовой.
Опять весна на белом свете, (3 раза)
Бери шинель, пошли домой!
Submitter's comments:

A version with alternative lyrics

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English translation

Grab your trenchcoat, we're going home

Versions: #1#2
You and I, brother, are from the infantry,
and summers are better than winters.
We've settled our score with the war,
grab your trenchcoat, we're going home!
The war has bent and worn us down,
yet even war has met an end.
Your mother was four years without her son,
grab your trenchcoat, we're going home!
Our streets are burned to the ground,
still again, again, my comrade,
the lost starlings have come back to them.
Grab your trenchcoat, we're going home!
Now you're sleeping with closed eyes
under a plywood star1
Stand up, stand up, brother,
grab your trenchcoat, we're going home!
What will I say to your relatives?
How could I face your widow?
You can't pledge in the name of yesterday.
Grab your trenchcoat, we're going home!
We are all the accidental children of war,
generals and privates alike.
Spring rises again over the snow,
grab your trenchcoat, we're going home!
  • 1. many Soviet soldiers graves bore a pyramid with a red star
This translation does not claim to be of any particular value.
Glad if you liked it, sorry if you didn't.
You can reuse it as you please.
Glad if it's for knowledge or understanding, sorry if it's just for money or fame.
Submitted by petit élève on Thu, 20/08/2015 - 04:44
Added in reply to request by Green_Sattva
Last edited by petit élève on Tue, 16/01/2018 - 07:51
Green_Sattva    Thu, 20/08/2015 - 16:04

I think "you and me" sounds better in English.

petit élève    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 06:42

Technically it should be "I" (since the pronoun is a subject) but "me" is often used too.

Green_Sattva    Thu, 20/08/2015 - 16:06

К золе и к пеплу наших улиц
Скворцы пропавшие вернулись,--->
the lost starlings have returned to the ashes of our streets

petit élève    Thu, 20/08/2015 - 16:11

You're right. I just don't know how to put that in English. I'll see what I can do.

Олег Л.    Fri, 22/12/2017 - 16:25

I think "шальные" means "случайные" in this context.
Of course, it's difficult to translate "неужто клясться днем вчерашним?"
I think, It means" говорить, что еще вчера он был жив".

petit élève    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 06:55

Apparently "неужто клясться днем вчерашним" is subject to interpretation even among Russians.
I understand it as "you can't be sure everything will remain the same" or something like that (i.e. he was alive before but he no longer is).
What do you think?

Brat    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 07:23

I think the main thought is that there's no need to swear by anything when it's already late.
Other possible meanings are subject to be perceived individually.
But there's no associations with bad curses for sure.

Brat    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 07:09

Hi! I think "curse the days of old" goes a bit wrong way here. It should be "swear by the day past" or "swear by yesterday, days of old, and so on".
And also in Line 1 of Stanza 2 it should be definitely "The war".
And it's better to say "We've settled our score" just before this.
And it would be better to make a wider use of the Present Perfect tense here, because the song bears a kind of "momentary" hue, giving a vivid picture of the Victory Day, so longed-for, but nevertheless so bitter at the moment.

sandring    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 07:22

Should I pledge in the name of yesterday?

petit élève    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 07:27

Mmm... That's basically what the Russian says, but that sounds a bit odd, or at least unusual, in my non-native English.

Brat    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 07:37

The natives would say this either, because "pledge" is stuck to the future while "yesterday" lies in the past. Regular smile
You may wish to ask any of them, BTW.

Brat    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 07:34

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

Brat    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 07:46

Well, you see, this whole song is a kind of boldly minted 'today' surrounded by a bunch of conditionals: if we stayed there for a next while; if he bent a little bit lower; if I told him that before... - there would be no need to swear, because he would be safe and sound...

sandring    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 07:50

But that's exactly where the trick is both in Russian and English. One can't pledge in the name of yesterday. That's exactly what the author says and means. Anyway, I've sent Pierre all my comments. Regular smile

Brat    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 08:02

The trick is rather good, but then it should be "Could I pledge in the name of yesterday?" because he's wondering in the song.

petit élève    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 08:15

Frankly I don't really understand what he means.
Swear to do what in the name of what events?

Brat    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 08:26

Well, try to imagine a surgeon coming out of the theatre with his patient lying dead. And imagine he would swear that 'they did their best' as if it could be of any help for the relatives.
There are some situations where words could not console... But nevertheless we are obliged to say something...

petit élève    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 08:45

Mmm... OK but that does not really match the original sentence. I don't see any pledge here.

Brat    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 09:34

Of course you couldn't see it, because there's no place for pledges of any kind. It's too late...
You'd brew a mixture of what is possible, what is likely to happen and what is totally impossible in the given curcumstances to produce a kind of rendition.
That's why I suggested that he'd "swear" by the days past.
There are, basically, two main problems:
1. To avoid allusions to offensive swearing, because this would be said as "клясть" in Russian. (it is quite an easy task, though)
2. To make it obvious that this "swearing" is as needful as it is at the same time useless, and, generally, senseless (but at the same time NOT ridiculous).
Here lies the algorithm you should follow to make a good translation of the song.

sandring    Tue, 16/01/2018 - 09:54

What's meant in here is a pledge any son takes before going to war, i.e. to return home