Alexander Galich - Oblaka (English translation)

Russian

Oblaka

Облака плывут, облака,
Не спеша плывут как в кино;
А я цыпленка ем табака,
Я коньячку принял полкило.
 
ПРИПЕВ:
Облака плывут в Абакан,
Не спеша плывут облака...
Им тепло небось, облакам,
А я продрог насквозь, на века.
 
Я подковой вмёрз в санный след,
В лёд, что я кайлом ковырял;
Ведь недаром я двадцать лет
Протрубил по тем лагерям.
 
До сих пор в глазах - снега наст!
До сих пор в ушах - шмона гам!
Эй, подайте мне ананас
И коньячку еще двести грамм!
 
Припев:
 
И по этим дням, как и я,
Пол страны сидит в кабаках.
И нашей памятью в те края,
Облака плывут, облака.
 
Облака плывут, облака,
В милый край плывут, в Колыму.
И не нужен им адвокат,
Им амнистия - ни к чему.
 
Я и сам живу - первый сорт,
Двадцать лет, как день, разменял.
Я в пивной сижу, словно лорд
И даже зубы есть у меня!
 
Облака плывут на восход,
Им ни пенсии, ни хлопот...
А мне четвертого - перевод
И двадцать третьего - перевод.
 
Припев:
 
Submitted by barsiscev on Thu, 11/12/2014 - 21:29
Align paragraphs
English translation

Clouds

The clouds sail on, the clouds
Unhurriedly they sail as in films
And I eat chicken “Tobacco”
I drink cognac by the double [refrain]
 
The clouds sail on in Abakan
Placidly they float, those clouds
Its warm for them, no doubt, those clouds
While I am frozen through for a century
 
I am ice-bound in the sleigh tracks
In ice I peck at with my pickaxe
You know it wasn’t for nothing twenty years
I blew in those camps
 
To this day the crust of snow fills my eyes
To this day the riot of the shakedown fills these ears
Hey, give me some pineapple
And another shot of cognac [refrain]!
 
These days, much like me
Half the country sits in dives
And as for our memories toward those haunts
Those clouds sail on, those clouds
 
The clouds sail on, the clouds
Over a pleasant place they glide, in Kolyma
And they have no need of lawyers
For them “amnesty” means nothing
 
I myself live - first rate
Twenty years, as in a day, gone by
In a beer hall I sit a literal lord
And I even have some teeth left in my head!
 
Those clouds sail on to the dawn
With neither song, nor effort
But for me it’s the fourth remittance
And the twenty third (year) frittered away
 
Submitted by miko339 on Sun, 20/03/2016 - 14:12
Last edited by miko339 on Tue, 29/03/2016 - 18:27
Author's comments:

This song always haunted me from the very first time I heard it at a dissident-run language course in Neustadt. A. Galich paints a scene of "voluptuous melancholy", if I may borrow the phrase of E. M. Cioran. The nuances are very hard to translate precisely, especially since the same word takes on meanings in different contexts where the English speaker must use a different word. I apologize if I got anything wrong. When you read it or listen to the song, imagine the rehabilitated "enemy of the state" in his basement dive looking from his table up through the window well to the clouds floating by, just like those he saw in his personal hell in the camps at Abakan and Kolyma. He's been sitting in taverns for three years now, a regular lord with his pension, but he's still frozen through in the sleigh tracks pecking away at the ice, snow-blind, with the din of that morning's shakedown still ringing in his ears. His only consolation for this prison of mind is that those voluptuous clouds still move on placidly, free, beyond any need. On they move peacefully, effortlessly changing with the wind until they disappear over the horizon without any regrets. He wishes he were like those clouds. Don't we all?

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