Кони беспредела (Koni bespredela) (English translation)

English translationEnglish

The Horses of Mayhem

Versions: #1#2#3
We rode and rode from hill to hill
But lost our wheel’s axle.
We came out squat-dancing, uniforms with frills
Soldier-boys of love, with deep blue eyes.
They took us and led us along strange paths
And lead us they did, or so I can see.
Here sits a pale bird with eyes of torment;
Well, sing to me, bird; maybe I will dance.
Sing to me, bird: is it sweet for a soul to be without a body?
Is it easy to be a bird that does not sing?
Harness for me, O Lord, the horses of mayhem;
I wanted to walk on foot, but it seems that I will not make it.
But what shall I feed the horses if they are not sated?
How shall I quench their thirst if they drink no water?
Their silky manes are braided and perfumed;
Their hooves are sharp; their hoofprints—scarlet.
And here are all my comrades, all vodka and no bread.
One is brother Sirin; the other, brother Spas.
And the third wanted to walk into heavens
But drank and lost his mind, and that was it.
Ah a little bird flew out but never made it;
A hawk tore a dove to pieces.
They harnessed and bridled for me the horses of mayhem,
And the horses bolted, away from you.
We wanted to win big, but we had the wrong cards;
All our aces are covered with mud however you look.
Father Sergiy, father Seraphim!
The stars are above, and snow lies ahead.
1. Thanks to user pinchus for “horses of mayhem” and to vevvev for “soldier-boys of love.” I thought also of using steeds of mayhem, but koni in the Russian is a word that’s in regular use; hence “horses.”
2. “Bespredel” in the song’s title is a word that means, in the dictionary definition, “The extreme degree of lawlessness or disorder.” It came out of the criminal underworld and came to be widely used in Russia’s rather mayhem-filled 1990s. It is though, one should note, a word that is distinctly more criminal-flavored than the more poetic-literary mayhem. You go outside to buy some milk and get shot in the head; that's bespredel. Or it’s the sort of thing that a criminal would say about other criminals violating the unwritten rules, such as they are, of the criminal world.
3. The bird in the second stanza has okayannie eyes, which literally translates as “damned” or “cursed.” But it’s a little strange, I think, to say that eyes are “damned.” So I made them full of torment.
4. Sirin, says Wikipedia, “is a mythological creature of Russian legends, with the head and chest of a beautiful woman and the body of a bird (usually an owl).”
5. Spas is an archaic expression for Jesus (“spasitel”, which is to say, savior)
6. The reference in the fifth stanza to the third comrade who wanted to walk into heavens is possibly to the poet-singer Alexander Bashlachev, who died after he fell out of an 8th floor window (whether with or without assistance, nobody knows).
7. In the last stanza, Father Sergiy is St. Sergius of Radonezh, who, says Wikipedia, “was a spiritual leader and monastic reformer of medieval Russia. Together with Seraphim of Sarov [the reference that follows], he is one of the Russian Orthodox Church's most highly venerated saints.” Also in the last stanza, the plan was literally to crown one’s checkers (“we were aiming to become a king checker”); then the metaphor gets mixed and the card suit turns out to be of the wrong kind.
8. In the final line, the snow is literally “on the path”. Or road. Or way. The word put’ means both, in a slightly poetic way, the physical road and the path ahead, thought of as the journey from here to there.
Suggestions for improvement are welcome!
thanked 2 times
Submitted by emeraldwhiteemeraldwhite on Fri, 03/12/2021 - 16:52

Кони беспредела (Koni bespredela)

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