Thursday, May 9, 2013

Жди меня...Wait for Me (Simonov)

Tomorrow, May 9th, is Victory Day in Russia, commemorating the Red Army's victory over Nazi Germany. It's like Memorial Day in the States times 50. The majority of the country will have Thursday and Friday off work and the list of events is unreal. Not to be left behind, we at the Bolshoi are doing our fair share to contribute and our Young Artist Programme will be doing a concert of popular songs from the war.

We had a private performance of this concert today with several army officials present and it was my first time hearing the project. (Not surprisingly I was not picked to oversee the concert of Russian war tunes). It was stunning and yet another insight to the beautiful Russian culture.

As I listened to the war songs and watched the video display, I was touched. But tears came to my eyes when I saw the reactions around me. You see, while war songs often may seem like patriotic propaganda, the truly beautiful ones are far more. They don't express patriotism, but rather humanity. The emotions felt in times of suffering, sacrifice, and great loss are universal. The horror of war and the reality of its effects on individuals can be understood by all, regardless of nationality.

One of the program numbers, this beautiful tune and its text have been haunting me since hearing...LISTEN!!! You won't regret it. The poem, "Wait for me", is by poet Konstantin Simonov, and unfortunately I wasn't able to find an English translation that I it turns out it's seriously difficult to do a good rhyming translation! So, here I offer my own, rhyme-less version. Somehow less seems lost and, while it's far from professional or smooth, I hope you can see through the flaws to the beauty of these words.

Жди меня, и я вернусь.
Только очень жди,
Жди, когда наводят грусть
Желтые дожди,
Жди, когда снега метут,
Жди, когда жара,
Жди, когда других не ждут,
Позабыв вчера.
Жди, когда из дальних мест
Писем не придет,
Жди, когда уж надоест
Всем, кто вместе ждет.

Жди меня, и я вернусь,
Не желай добра
Всем, кто знает наизусть,
Что забыть пора.
Пусть поверят сын и мать
В то, что нет меня,
Пусть друзья устанут ждать,
Сядут у огня,
Выпьют горькое вино
На помин души...
Жди. И с ними заодно
Выпить не спеши.

Жди меня, и я вернусь,
Всем смертям назло.
Кто не ждал меня, тот пусть
Скажет: - Повезло.
Не понять, не ждавшим им,
Как среди огня
Ожиданием своим
Ты спасла меня.
Как я выжил, будем знать
Только мы с тобой,-
Просто ты умела ждать,
Как никто другой.
Wait for me and I'll return.
Only, really wait.
Wait when yellow rains
Bring sadness,
Wait when snow flies,
Wait through the heat,
Wait when others don't wait,
Forgetting yesterday.
Wait when from far-off places
Letters don't come.
Wait when all who are waiting together grow weary.

Wait for me, and I'll return.
Don't wish well to those who know by heart,
That it's time to forget.
Let mother and son believe
That I am gone.
Let friends grow tired of waiting,
sit by the fire,
And drink bitter wine
in the soul's remembrance.
Wait. And together with them
Don't hurry to drink.

Wait for me and I'll return,
In spite of all the deaths.
He who didn't wait for me, then let say:
"He had some luck."
They won't understand, having not waited for them,
How from amidst the fire
With your waiting
You saved me.
How I survived, we will know,
Only you and I -
You simply were able to wait
Like no other.

Happy Victory Day Celebrations to those in Russia. And to all of us...happy remembering. Here's to humanity!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thinking about it, I'm fascinated by your Russian language skills. There are songs that can move one to tears. You're right, this is one of them. I'm glad my mascara is waterproof. This song made me cry.

  2. That's a beautiful, poignant song! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Hello! How abiout this one

    It made me sob, despite being grown up man. Despite lyrics being fairly "patriotuic propaganda", as you put it, the combination of this and music bring nearly eternal sorrow to heart. I'll try to translatye (I'm Russian so pardon my English, esp. grammar).

    Through the field,
    along steep riverbank,
    by the houses,
    in grey private's uniform
    there was a soldier going.

    Soldier was going, accepting no obstacles,
    Soldier was going, losing his friends,
    Often [he was] going without a halt,
    Soldier was going forward.

    He was going in the thunderous nights,
    Through rain and showers of hail.
    With his frontline friends
    Soldier was singing a song.

    Soldier sung, swallowing his tears,
    [He] sung about Russian birches,
    about hazel eyes, about his paternal house
    Soldier was singing on the way.

    As if adhered to soldier's shoulder,
    stays his submachinegun
    Everywhere soldier fought his sworn enemies.
    Soldier fought them near Smolensk,
    Soldier fough them in Nsk* settlement,
    Sparing no bullet, without rest,
    Soldier fough his enemies.

    Through the field,
    along steep riverbank,
    by the houses,
    in grey private's uniform
    there was a soldier going.

    Soldier was going - the servant of the Fatherland,
    Soldier was going - in the name of Life,
    Saving the Earth, protecring the peace,
    Soldier was going forward!

    * an echo of wartime military censhorship, when georaphical and personal names was omitted in mass media due to requirment of military secrecy.

    My deepest bow to everyone who went through tis hell and survived it (like my granddad, though he didnt made it to this day) and eternal memory to those who didn't. Eternal flame carving nailed it - "Your name is unknown. Your deed is immortal".

    Sorry for any mistakes and/or typos.. and for possibly being overly pathetic, but I cant help it - this song really made me bite my lips really hard to avoid all-out sob.

    Best regards,

    1. Thank you for this beautiful comment Andrey! It really is a beautiful poem and the combination of words and music is very powerful! Thank you for adding your perspective and insight to this post. Hope to hear from you more!

  4. I cannot even imagine how emotional it must be to witness that! I would be a teary mess.
    Have you read the Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simmons? It's set in St. Petersburg during WWII and is amazing! If you like historical fiction you should definitely read it :)

  5. excellent and heart touching, one of the my favorite ! lots of love

  6. This is a gorgeous poem and by far the best translation I've come across. Most of them mistranslated or failed to do justice to the original. I still prefer it in Russian, but this one I will save for the English, too!

  7. Way to go, this is by far my favourite English version! May I add it to my blog containing different song versions (as well as my own translation in French)?

    Best regards,
    Zeljka Jankovic

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