Dingo the Dissident

THE BLOG OF DISQUIET : Qweir Notions in the Armpit of Diogenes by DINGO the DISSIDENT binge-thinker since February 2008.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

« Кони привередливые »

A popular song of this quality
could never have come out of North America
or anywhere Anglophone -
though it might have come out of France or Germany.
In English it is perversely entitled
Capricious Horses, which is a typical translator's travesty
of the original Untamed, Unruly or possibly Heedless  Horses -
though, of course, in English, Heedless is too similar to Headless.
(Some translations crassly put Fastidious !)

Other translations of привередливые (priveredlivye) might be:
impetuous, ungovernable, uncontrolled...

Here is the song by the epic Vladimir Vysotsky,

who was a kind of cross between late Tom Waits and Amalia Rodrigues,
and one of the few great singer-songwriters such as Brel

and Brassens. (Piaf did not write the songs she sang so well.)

And here is my translation:


Next to infinity, along the cliff-edge,
I whip my wilful horses, urge them on...
I need some air, I'm gulping wind and fog,
and now in fatal rapture: I am leaving, I'm away...


Slow down, slow down a little, horses!
Slow down a little bit!
Ignore the painful lashes!
- But these horses are so unruly, and so headstrong,  -
and so little time remains to me...
I'll try to end my song...
I'll find water for my horses
and will stay a little longer on the edge.

I may die - and the wind will transport me,
And the sleigh will convey me through the morning snow.
Slow down, my wayward horses!  Slow down a little -
let me prolong my headlong ride into the void.

Slow down, O my horses! Slow down just a fraction!
Ignore the whip and the whipping..
- But I can't control my horses and I have so little time.
I won't finish my song,
I'll lead them to water, I will finish singing
and stay a little longer on the edge.

We're on time - any time is fine for the Creator.
- but why are those damned angels screaming so ?
Or is it just a harness-bell that's jangling ?
Or is it me just screeching vainly at my beasts ?

Slow down, slow down a bit, my horses,
Please stop this headlong gallop to our doom.
- But my horses are quite heedless...
If it's the end for me, let it not be the end of my song!
I'll lead them to water... I will finish my singing

and stay a little longer on the edge.


Anonymous said...

How many languages do you know, passively and actively? Impressive!

Wofl said...

I cannot say that I "know" any language. Spoken/written language is a very poor means of expressing feelings, though it is quite good at producing thought - given that thought is a function of language! There are ways of appreciating songs which are not dependent on language, because the best songs transcend the lyrics. Schubert is a wonderful example. Oum Kalthoum another...then there are Brassens and those guys who put Brecht to music (Weill, Dessau, Eissler).

I heard this song at first hardly knowing what it was "about" - but I "got the message" somewhow, via YouTube and my laptop (amazing!). So I looked up translations on Google (all hail!) and compared them, and made my own version. Anyone can do this. It just requires a little application on top of a bit of feelingness.

Translation, however, is a difficult thing. What is important is that the result should not read like a translation - but (guess what ?) most translations read like translations!