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VLADIMIR VYSOTSKY: 70

(25/01/38 - 25/07/80)

Some of mountaineering songs (in different translations)

A farewell to the mountains

Down to cities, to cars, to the life, dull and bleak
We are getting ahead - as if losing the goals...
But we always come back from the mountain peak
Which we conquered and where we left our souls.

Drop your disputes of no account -
I've proved all to myself and can bet:
Better than all the mounts is the Mount,
Which nobody has mounted yet!

So many a hope, so many a song
Mountains rouse in us, begging us not to go,
But we always come back - for a break or for long
Since we have to return - it's a must to do so.

Drop your disputes of no account -
I've proved all to myself and can bet:
Better than all the mounts is the Mount,
Which nobody has mounted yet!

Who would want to remain all alone in a fix?
Who would want to ignore his heart's call, soft and tender?
But we always come back from the mountain peaks -
Even gods from the mountains sometimes descended...

Drop your disputes of no account -
I've proved all to myself and can bet:
Better than all the mounts is the Mount,
Which nobody has mounted yet!


George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton

A song about a friend

If you see - Your friend seems to be
Neither friend, nor foe - So-so...
If you never have understood
Whether he's bad or good...
Take to mountains high This guy,
Don't you leave him at once - Give a chance,
Let him be in one link with you -
There you'll see who is who.

If the climb makes him feel Quite ill,
If he only fails And wails,
Having stepped on the ice He cries,
Having stumbled he dies...
It's a cur who is near - It's clear,
Waste no words on this foe - Let go!
Such guys shouldn't be brought along -
They deserve no song!

If the guy didn't howl Or growl,
And went on being tough And rough,
And held on With a groan
If You had flown From a cliff.
If he's broken through With you
To the peak which is shining blue -
Then you know that upon this guy
You may fully rely!


George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton

In the mountains

The mountains differ a lot from a plain -
The avalanche thunders again and again;
The landslide is roaring and filling your soul with awe...
We might turn away From the chasm in dismay
But we select the hardest way
Which is as risky as the path of war!

The mountain crest puts you to test
When hazards give you no rest -
Your downworld virtues count here no more...
Way down below you'll never meet
This magic beauty - a tenth of it! -
Which up in the mountains you already saw!

They say with disdain that we are insane,
That we all perish just in vain,
But it's much better than from vodka or rum -
The others will come, Quitting lives, so calm,
Afraid of no risk or harm -
They'll make it to the top if you succumb!

On vertical ice you may often get stuck;
Watch out! Never count on luck!
No cliff and no crag in the mountains ever you trust!
Rely on your hand, on the help from your friend
And pray that the piton, on which you depend,
Inside that rock was driven rather fast!

Around the stone, where he rests in peace,
There is no ribbon and no wreath
And on its top the stone carries no star...
The peak in sight Is shining bright
With cold icy heavenly light,
That very peak you've failed to conquer so far!

We're chipping the steps - no way to retreat!
The heart's running wild in a feverish beat,
It's ready to mount the mountain, so to speak!
The world is beneath you - you're silent and glad
And only slightly you envy the lad,
Who's going the first time to make it himself to the peak!


George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton

To the top

Down in the chasm all my fears
For good I drop.
Limbs shake no more, the vision clears -
Now to the top!
I move uphill without a stop,
I waste no time...
And in the world there's no top
That you can't climb.

Of all the new, unbeaten routes
One route is mine!
To far-off lines I'll start my boots
To gain one line!
The names of those, fallen here,
Are kept by snows...
Through an unknown distant sphere
My road goes!

The icy glow filled the cracks
And covered steeps...
And secrets of somebody's tracks
The granite keeps.
Above the heads, above the herds
My goal is seen...
And I believe that snows and words
Are always clean.

A lot of years will have passed
But I'll recall,
How there I killed the doubts at last
Inside my soul.
The water wished me in a chat:
"Good luck, be blessed!"
And what a day... What day was that?
Ah... Wednesday... yes...


George Tokarev. Translation, 2001
Edited by Robert Titterton

Saying good-bye to the mountains

To the bustle of streets, flow of cars, traffic blocks
To city life we return, we come back, as it happens.
We descend from the conquered high mountaintops
And we leave our hearts, and we leave our hearts in the mountains.

There is no use to argue about it,
I have known for a very long time:
There is one thing that's better than mountains,
And it's mountains that we haven't climbed.

Who would want to be left in the lurch, with no hopes?
Who would want to give in, his heart disobeyin'?
We descend from the conquered high mountaintops...
Nothing doing: gods, too, used to come down from heaven.

There is no use to argue about it,
I have known for a very long time:
There is one thing that's better than mountains,
And it's mountains that we haven't climbed.

Many beautiful songs, many hopes, words of love
Are inspired by mountains, they eternally call us.
Yet we have to descend, for a year or for life
For we have to return from the mountains... always.

There is no use to argue about it,
I have known for a very long time:
There is one thing that's better than mountains
And it's mountains that we haven't climbed.


Alec Vagapov. Translation, 1998

Well, now, my hands don't shake at all

Well, now, my hands don't shake at all
So I'll move on!
Into the precipice for all
My fears are gone!
I have no reason for a halt
Nor for a break,
There are no heights in the whole world
I cannot take!

Of all untrodden paths and roads
One road is mine,
Of all unconquered lines and fords
I'll take one line!
The names of those who rest in peace
Are in the snow.
Of all untrodden roads one is
For me, I know!

The bright blue radiance of ice
Lights up the cracks;
And on the granite, in disguise,
Are someone's tracks.
I have my dream and let it flow
Around the world,
And I believe in pure snow
And pure word!

Time flies. There's something I will not
Forget about:
It's here that confidence I got
And killed my doubt!
The water whispered on that day:
"Good luck! No woes!"
The day... What was it? Wednesday, eh?
Oh yes, it was!


Alec Vagapov. Translation, 1999

No plain here

The climate is such, here is not a plain -
Comes avalanches' an infinite chain.
And after stone-falls another will roar, -
You may take a turn, the precipice round.
But difficult ways to choose we're bound,
As dangerous as paths of a war.

Who hasn't been here, has never risked -
That' never tested self to resist,
When even he's used to moving among the stars:
Below you won't see, try as you may,
In all your happiest life some day
The beauty and wonders of t' similar class.

No scarlet roses, no mourning band,
It doesn't remind 'f a monument
The stone that for good has granted you rest, -
Memorial fire glistening nice
The peak with daylight emerald ice -
The one you haven't conquered doing your best.

Let them talk it on, yes, talk all it on,
But, not for nothing one is gone!
It's better than from alcohol or a cold.
The other will come, the comfort run
For risking and a hard work done, -
Will make it up, the route you couldn't hold.

The vertical cliffs here, try to be quick!
Your luck is not trusted, it can play a trick, -
As nothing in rocks is safe for a mountaineer, -
We only rely on the clutching arm,
The friendly hands and hook, your chum,
And pray the rope to save us our fear.

We' re carving the stairs... Not a step back!
And in the strain the laps shaking are slack,
And right to the top the heart is in hurry to get.
The heaven around! You're happy and dumb!
But feeling about like envious some
People for whom their summit is still ahead.


Natalie Golightly. Translation, 2000

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