I guess I'm on a kick of translating Vysotsky's car songs, then, after "Song of Two Beautiful Cars" yesterday (or maybe I am just building up my next submission to the Wysotsky Group). Actually, I've meant to translate this one for a long while now, as I love the extended metaphor in it, particularly after the tempo and tone change. 

The Horizon
 
They've swept it clean so there will be no tracks to trace.
Come with your catcalls now, your shaming and outcrying:
My tape is the horizon, and the world's end is my race;
I must be first to the horizon line! 
 
 Not everyone approved this bet's unusual terms.
 Reluctant shook the hands when it was sealed.
 The terms are these: to drive the highway, with no turns,
 And just the highway, never turn or yield.
        
        My spinning crankshaft spins along the miles
        As I drive parallel to parallel wires. 
        But every so, in front, a shadow's flitting -
        Someone in black, or some black cat or kitten.
        
I know more than once they'll stick it in my wheels today,
I'm guessing as to what and how I'll be beguiled.
I know where a wire will stretch across my way
And where they'll intercept me with a smile.
 
 But my dials are ablaze - at such a speed as this
 A sand grain has the power of a bullet,
 And so I clutch the wheel, to shudders in my wrists,
 To make it before they reach the bolt and pull it! 
        
        My spinning crankshaft spins along the miles,
        As I drive on, straight up towards the wires.
        Hurry and make the nuts a little more tight,
        Else they will raise the wire right to throat height.
 
The tarmac melts below, the fuses are on fire,
My throat goes dry, the climax now too close for its bearing,
And with my bare chest I break the blocking wire -
I live! Take off the mourning bands you're wearing! 
 
Whoever drove me to this cruel bet and deal
Had been a dirty calculating fighter.
I'm high with racing thrill, but, however I feel,
On slippery turns I'm braking all the tighter.
        
        My spinning crankshaft spins along the miles,
        Ahead or overhead, to spite all wires,
        Just calm the losers, in that moment near
        When out on the horizon I'll appear! 
 
It draws no closer still, my horizon finish line.
I didn't break the tape, though I'm done now with the wire.
The cable didn't snap across my neck and spine,
Though from the trees they shoot still at my tires. 
 
It hadn't been the cash that led me to this race -
"Don't miss it," they had asked me, "Understand it,
"Find out if there's a limit, there beyond the world's face,
And can even horizons be expanded?"
        
        My spinning crankshaft spins along the miles
        My treads, I will not let the shots defile...
        But my brakes fail and - what do you find?!
        I overshoot, the horizon's left behind! 

- V.Vysotsky
 1971



Quite interesting video of a painting by a fan named Herbert Goering (sp? his name is in Cyrillic) showing what he thought of when he heard that song. I like it.

Notes: What I translate as a wire stretched across the road is in the original sometimes a cable and sometimes a rope or hawser; I decided to use a wire as it's easier to rhyme and, from what I know, commonly used for these kinds of purposes. English uses "wire" for a bunch of different meanings that Russian differentiates; thus, the line about "ahead or overhead" wires is my own, where he lists three different words: "to spite hawsers, cables, (electrical) wires."

The actual ending cry in the second-last line after the brakes fail is "coda!" I am not sure whether he used it just to rhyme, as it is a rare word outside of music in discourse --- and doesn't rhyme with much in English. Traduttore - tradittore, oh well.
ext_12535: I made this (Default)

From: [identity profile] wetdryvac.livejournal.com


Oh my. How I've managed to miss this one, I have no idea, but it's most excellent. Also, clear enough that I can follow bits of it here and there.

Urrah, translation!

From: [identity profile] indicolite.livejournal.com


Thanks! In the little speaking intro to the video, he says it's an old song --- apparently, the recording is from 1979 --- but he loves it.
.

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