Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Russian Lullaby

The Pit likes to entertain the baby by making various funny noises.  Fuzzy quite enjoys this, but when I filmed it and sent it to my grandparents, they expressed some concerns that we were howling at the child like wolves, and not singing to him like civilized human beings.

To make them feel better, I decided to look up some Russian lullabies online and play them for Fuzzy, because anyone who has heard me sing once tries to avoid a repeat performance at all costs.  It should also be noted that I don't actually know the words to any real lullabies, as when I was little, my grandfather sang me to sleep with old Soviet propaganda tunes from World War II.  I thus know the lyrics to the Russian version of A Wing and Prayer, but not an equivalent to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Anyway, I clicked on the first likely looking YouTube video, and the baby and I listened to this song:

You will note that while the music is indeed soothing, the images seem rather...martial.  However, I was rocking the baby, not looking at the monitor, and thus only started to attention when I heard the line about an "angry Chechan creeping over the riverbank, clutching his dagger."  What what now?

I emailed my father asking for an explanation, and he dug up an English translation of the lyrics, which I present to you here.  They have taken some liberties in order to make the English rhyme, but I assure you, the translation has, if anything, toned down the original.

A Cossack Lullaby

Sleep, my darling, sleep, my baby,
Close your eyes and sleep.
Darkness comes; into your cradle
Moonbeams shyly peep.
Many pretty songs I'll sing you
And a lullaby.
Pleasant dreams the night will bring you....
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.

Muddy waters churn in anger,
Loud the Terek roars,
And a Chechen with a dagger
Creeps onto the shore.
Steeled your father is in gory
Battle.... You and I,
Little one, we need not worry... .
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.

There will come a day when boldly,
Like your dad, my son,
You will mount your horse and shoulder,
Proud, a Cossack gun.
With bright silks your saddle for you
I will sew.... There lie
Roads as yet untrod before you....
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.

You'll grow up to be a fearless
Cossack, and a true.
Off you'll ride, and I'll stand tearless,
Looking after you.
But when you are gone from sight, son,
Bitterly I'll cry....

May the dreams you dream be light, son;
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.
Thoughts of you when we are parted
All my days will fill.
In the nighttime, anxious-hearted,
Pray for you I will.
I'll be thinking that you're lonely,
That for home you sigh....
Sleep, my son, my one and only,
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.

I will see you to the turning,
And you'll ride away.
With my icon you will journey
And before it pray.
Let your thoughts in time of danger
To your mother fly.
Close your eyes and sleep, my angel,
Sleep, dear, rock-a-bye.

So yes, the Russians apparently took a work by their second-favorite poet, about fighting Chechans in the 1830s, set it to a nice melody, and proceeded to sing it to their children as soothing bedtime music.  The funny thing is, after listening to several other Russian lullabies with more traditional lyrics, I liked this one the best.  I suppose a childhood listening to WWII melodies will do that to you.  And so the tradition continues!

1 comment:

  1. I think you just need to keep to this Russian classic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oavMtUWDBTM