Â Vladimir Vysotsky (1938 - 1980) - an actor, poet and singer ("bard",Â how we usually call it) who was - and is - immensely popular in my country. He was loved and listened to practically by everyone, from the most refined Moscow intelligentsia down to the prisoners in GULAG. He was the author of more than 1 000 songs, and many of them have become an integral part of Russian cultural and everyday life. Among his most famous rolesÂ in theatre and cinema -Â Hamlet in Shakespeare's play, Don Juan in Pushkin's "Small Tragedies" andÂ Captain Zheglov in "Mesto Vstrechi Izmenit' Nelzya" ("The Place of the Meeting Can't be Changed") movie series. When he passed away in July 1980, half of Moscow came to bid him last farewell, even despite the Olympic Games, summer heat and our officials' obvious disapproval. How this Jewish guy with rasping voice who never forgot about his roots managed to grasp the very essence of Russian soul,Â could seem a mystery...Â but the fact remains.Â Â How one of his numerous fans so aptly put it - he embodied all that is Russian. He was Russia...
Below is my most favorite poem by Vysotsky as translated into English by Maya Jouravel. I post it here in honor of my two dearest Gather friends, Leah Christensen (who is an avid listener of Vysotsky) and Walker Bennett. May these heartfelt, inspiring versesÂ will light their way for all the years to come! :-)
Ballad about love
Russian title: ballada o liubvi
When, after all, the great deluge was over,
The seas came back within their coastal lines,
Out of the foam of the receding water
The love came out softly to the land.
And, for some time, it faded in the air,
And lasted for an eon and some then.
And some eccentrics that still do exist
Inhale with their full lungs that crazy mix,
Expecting neither scolding nor reward,
And thinking they are free to breath it in
They realize one day that they fit in
Somebody else's intermittent breathing.
But remember: a feeling's like a boat
It's afloat until you realize:
That the words "I love" mean simply that
"I can breathe" and "I am still alive".
There will be plenty of despair and roaming.
The land of love is the most noble land.
The knights of love will have to go through testing
With ever higher standards and demands.
They will be separated by a distance,
Devoid of leisure, sleep without rest.
But nothing in the world can turn them back.
Those madmen do agree to pay it back,
Pay any price, their lives won't be excepted
In order to preserve and to protect
Some indiscernible and magic thread
Which love between them now has extended.
Wind and snow swept them off their feet,
Made them drunk and raised them from the dead.
'Cause remember you have neither lived,
Nor have breathed, if you have never loved.
And most of them have choked with love forever.
They can't be reached no matter what you do.
They are accounted by idle talk and rumor,
And that account is laced with pure blood.
But we will light up candles in the memory
Of those who died from the unprecedented love.
Their souls, among the flowers, will run
And their voices will blend and sound as one.
They will inhale eternity together.
And somewhere, on a fragile river cross,
A narrow bridge across the universe
Holding their breath, they will meet each other.
I will open fields to those who love!
Let them sing awake and in their rest.
I do breathe and that means I'm in love.
I'm in love and that means I exist.
More on Vladimir Vysotsky could be found here:
FromÂ Russia with Love -
May 06, 2007