Vladimir Vysotsky: Songs: Trans. by William Comer

Vysotsky's Lyrics: Translation by William Comer

Source: Vysotsky in German

Song about a friend
Russian title: Pesnya o druge
If a friend suddenly turns out to be 
Not quite a friend, not quite an enemy, but just... 
If you can't tell at a glance, 
If he's good or bad, 

Take a risk! Take him along to climb a mountain. 
Don't send him off on his own; 
Have him use the same support hooks that you do, 
And then you'll know, who you're dealing with.

And if the guy in the mountains isn't terrific, 
If he suddenly flags and goes down, 
If he takes a step on ice, and wimps out 
If he stumbles and shouts in panic, -

Then next to you is a stranger. 
Don't yell at him, - just push him away, 
They don't take such guys up into the mountains, 
And in songs like this, no one sings about them.

But if he didn't whimper, didn't fuss, 
Despite being sullen and ill-tempered, but went along, 
And when you fell from a cliff, 
He moaned in pain, but held on to you,

If he went with you, as into a battle, 
He stood on the peak, tipsy, 
Then you can rely on him, 
As on yourself.
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