Vladimir Vysotsky: Songs: Trans. by Adrian J. Erlinger

Vysotsky's Lyrics: Translation by Adrian J. Erlinger

About the devil
Apples of paradise
Grace or a blessing
A romance that never happened
Song about carpenter Joseph, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the Immaculate conception
Victim of television

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Grace or a blessing
Russian title: Blagodat' ili blagoslovenie
Grace or a blessing
Bestow upon your servants –
Help us, Lord, to be fully cleansed with ablution
While plunging into the holiest of holiness!

All vices, sins and grief,
Indifference, agreements and arguments –
The steam that is only increasing
Is bursting like bullets from pores.

All that torments you – let it be vaporized
And all rise to heaven,
Cleansed, you will fall down –
And steam with sins will be judged.

Do not rush too quickly to the shower,
Do not confuse cleansing with washing, 
You need to thrash your soul with switches, 
And steam the stench from it.

Healing from sores and deformity –
This shower is from life-giving water,
This is like the return of the first born, 
Or rather – the draining of a swamp.

Here there are no naked, don't be ashamed
Of crooked legs and hands.
Here it is like the Garden of Paradise,
Admission for all who are stripped naked.

And in the dressing room, throwing off things,
Forget all of your clothing –
Lash yourself with birch switches equally
Do not be proud and stick out your chest!

All are equal in unified wealth,
All may easily endure the heat, 
Here, the freedom and equality of brotherhood
You will feel in hellish steam.

Lead generations into the steam room
And convince them to be baptized,
Pour on us your holy water –
And free us from barbarianism!

Grace or a blessing
Bestow upon your servants –
Help us, Lord, to be fully cleansed with ablution
While plunging into the holiest of holiness!

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Song about carpenter Joseph, the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the Immaculate conception
Russian title: Pesnya pro plotnika Iosifa...
I come home from work,
Put my awl on the wall, -
Suddenly someone flits out the window
From my wife, from the bed!
I, of course, ask: "Who is it?"
And she answered me: "It's the Holy Spirit!"
Oh, I'll meet this Spirit –
Oh, I'll bust it in the head!
But not all Spirits are alike:
This one got Mary into bed!	

Perhaps your blood is blue,
Your bones might be white, -
He will be born, but I know
That he ain't no Christ!

In reality, Mary was all sore
She wanted to make a scene,
I offended her, the fool –
She was all mixed up and confused!
At first – I was affectionate: this and that...				
But she was cautious: "No, that's that!"
	I then ground my teeth and
	Couldn't help but being rude:
	 "If he is so wise and ancient,
	His age two thousand and six,
	He's gotta have in any village
	At least two or three chicks!"

I gave Mary this proposal –
I would add to this little fantasy!
When he comes back next Sunday
You, Mary, do as I say:
I will do my morning routine and pretend I've gone away,
And you will conjure the Spirit up, okay?
	You make up his bed –
	In a stupor, I will beat him!
	He will use his wing, I a stake,
	He will say a Psalm, I a rake!
	He of course will surrender -
	Mary's honor will be saved,		
	Because I think that		
	This Angel is Satan!		

...Then I'll fly in, screaming with my stick,
And will be no more hope for it..."
Mary started to cry. "Where did it go?"
"It left, the desirable Spirit!"
"How would I know, I don't know where it went?"
"Yes, it's all true," she answered "it's gone!
It read a Psalm to me
And tickled me with its wing..."
"You fooled your ever-loving man!
	Oh, you awful wife!..."
	I lifted my weapon upward...
	Go ahead Satan, laugh at me!

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A romance that never happened
Russian title: U nee
She's got a life of her own – laundry, a living space.
But, I entertain in a corner at my aunt's.
All my free time is for her.
At her, I look from the window across the way.

In the evenings, the light in her window never fades.
And yesterday, the elevator man told me for a bottle:
That she's got two actor friends
And one of them is a popular actor at Taganka.

While I had this connection with the Department of Housing,
I learned a lot of various details about her:
Her older brother is a football player with Spartak,
And her father is a referent in the Ministry of Finance.

I will say that I always go to football matches,
And I'll put in a good word about Spartak and her brother.
I will say that I'm on good terms with the Ministry of Finance
And myself, as an amateur, act at the Moscow Art Theater.

She has on her windowsill a geranium,
She has curtains wide-open.
But I have nothing on my windowsill
Except old dust on the dresser.

It's nothing! I will by a lottery ticket,
And I won't have to wait for long.
And if there is any justice in the world,
I surely will win a brand new Volga.
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About the devil
Russian title: Pro Cherta
I have a drinking bout out of loneliness –
In the night I hear a voice...
Listen, it suddenly called me by my middle name,
The Devil squirmed his ugly face and winked,
And I ever-so-quietly said to him:

"Man, I must have drunk too much cognac!
And you too are probably liquored up...
Listen, my devil-devlish-devly-demon friend
Sit with me – I would be so glad...
Is it possibly (to hell with it) that you are a coward?!
Get off my shoulder, I will cross myself!"

The Devil said he was acquainted with Borisov -
This is our drunken landlord.
The Devil stuffed his cheeks full of bread,
He had no aversion to the bottle.
The cognac was emptied (it wasn't a whole lot).
We'll go pick up some more down the street.

I was tired, so my devil went off on his own...
I wake up and he returned— I fear that
He either came to me in a dream
Or else, I really was seeing him.
The Devil cursed and swore, then
Climbed on my back and wagged his tail.

I smiled at him until my sides hurt
And asked: "So what's Hades really like,
What's it like for our alcoholics –
They say that they fry in liquor?"
The devil swore again and said:
 "Even in hell, the wrong comrade runs the show!"

...It was all over, light crept in my room,
Me and the devil wanted some hair of the dog,
But the devil dissolved as if in a whirlpool...
I will wait for him until he comes back...
I won't be so crazy then,
It's better with the devil than all by yourself.

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Apples of paradise
Russian title: Raiskie Iabloki
I one day will die – we are always dying at times,
I wish death not on my own accord, but by a knife to my spine:
The murdered are spared, given tickets to paradise,
But I won't speak of the living, but of the rested.

My face will hit the dirt, turn on its good side,
And my fallen soul will gallop up the hill on a stolen jade horse.
In those glorious gardens of paradise, I will gather purple-pale apples.
However, these gardens are guarded and they shoot you between the eyes.

Galloping up, I see before my eyes no kind of paradise:
Only a barren desert and all around— infinite nothingness.
And in between rise cast-iron gates and
A massive étape of five thousand sitting on their knees.

How my horse whines! I calm him with affectionate words,
But the burrs have almost but torn away his mane.
The old man gatekeeper struggles with the bolt too long—
Failing to open it, he grunts and grumbles, and leaves.

And the exhausted mass produce not one squeak.
They squat, their knees growing numb from it all.
A den of thieves, brothers, I hear the pealing of bells!
Returning full circle, He hangs crucified on the cross.

Blessings have been bestowed upon me, would I have wanted more?
Just my friends and my wife— let her fall on my coffin.
I will pick for them some of those pale apples,
But the gardens are guarded, and they shoot you between the eyes.

I know this old man by the tears upon his worn cheeks:
It is Saint Peter— he is an apostle, I am just a fool.
Here is the orchard, with a lot of frozen apples,
But the gardens are guarded, and they have just started shooting between 
the eyes.

So I drive my horse away, from this wretched hellhole.
Though the horses are begging for oats, I can't stop biting at the bit.
Along the cliff, with a lash, on the precipice, clutching apples
For you I bring them: you are waiting for me from paradise.
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Victim of television
Russian title: Zhertva televedeniya
Here is the television – a loudspeaker and,
An orator, who spreads it for miles!
It's not a window, (I won't even spit into a window) 
It has opened up all of the world's doors.

Everybody's at home – at full attention:
Vacation in the Crimea, hurricanes and Kobzon,
Film, part seven – they eat it all up:
But I didn't even see parts one through six.

	I turn on Channel 1 – and they are diving –
	Well, it's okay, from twenty meters.
	"Look at those girls!" – they are performing!
	All of ‘em in aprons, you could lose your mind!

We have television – my apartment now seems bigger,
I'm grieving at all the world's problems,
I am breathing the air of the entire world,
I see Nixon with his First Lady.

Imagine that! Foreign leaders in front of you– 
Eye to eye, head to head
Propped up by a footstool, my TV set.
I have witnessed their important tête-à-tête.

	Then – shock workers at the bread factory,
	Talk about baking until ten o'clock.
	My wife says "Oh look at those guys!"
	Shooting, jumping, you could lose your mind!

If you aren't watching – then you are not a fool,
You're probably just living in a cave:
And you don't know where they find talent,
You don't know who is gifted!

How can I convince my stubborn Nastya?!
She wants to go to the movies when it's Saturday.
She says that I too have fallen for
That stupid box for idiots.

Yes, I too am addicted – I come home,
And here is Nixon and Georges Pompidou!
It's all right – I grabbed a bottle –
I took a shot for Georges, but not one for Richard.

	But reality is even more of a nightmare –
	I turn on Channel 4 and go to the balcony:
	"Look at those girls!" "Look at those guys!"
	They are giving prizes out in the UN!

...Then, at the Kanatchikov Mental Hospital,
Where unfortunately that intrusive service is,
In a haze, I saw the whole broadcast,
The whole show was about Angela Davis.	

I hear: don't cry, everything's okay in the taiga,
USSR won the game against West Germany,
They arrested a hundred of those scoundrels,
And Magomaev sings on KVN.

	But reality is still so elegant and chic -
	Two televisions – turn and twirl:
	"Look at those guys!" "Look at those girls!"
	I'm not afraid to lose my mind!
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