Verses and Lyrics

This Page contains verses and lyrics in english (translated from russian by vlad melnikov)

Epic Painting

An epic painting against an old stucco wall,

The light in the gallery is blinding and dust is hanging in the air.

A bored guardian is looking outside – there is almost no one on a week day,

Only one person is inside the room, leaning on his crutch.


He seems to be glued to the battle scene in the painting –

Maybe the artist is his close friend or an acquaintance?

And it seems to make no difference whose fit of valor the canvas holds –

The First Cavalry* or the Ninth Airborne**,

Or probably he is a great amateur of  war history and art,

Disability aside?


The epic painting is what you are always carrying inside your mind,

It will wake you up again in the silence of the night.

This is how it happens – the battle never stops,

And it is best known to those in the painting.


Where the spirit of the battle is in the air –

Over the fields of Austerlitz*** or Rzhev****

A moment of battle fury caught on canvas and frozen amidst museum dust.

Your battle is real – and it is still going on,

An old yellowish page of faded glory…

Will you turn it over?


* The First Cavalry Army played a major role during the Civil War in Russia. Its commander, Budeny, was a recognized Soviet military leader for a long time afterwards.

** The 9th Airborne Battalion never existed in reality. However, a song about it and its members became one of the symbols of the Victory Day in Russia due to the movie “Belarus Railway Terminal” where it was prominent. The song was composed by Bulat Okudzhava, a patriarch of Russian “bard songs” very popular at the time. The song is widely performed at occasions related to the Great Patriotic War and the V-Day.

***Austerlitz was an outstanding victory for Napoleon that sealed his European hegemony. He defeated a huge coalition that united Austria and Russia, the two greatest European military powers of the time.

****During the Great Patriotic War, the battle under the city of Rzhev was one of the bloodiest and least decisive for the Soviet army with multiple futile attempts to break through the German defenses.



The sea is in a terrible storm with thunderous waves coming ashore,

A black raven of sorrow is hovering overhead, trying to deprive us of reason.

The last trip was so long, and sometimes

Trees shudder with their branches – winter is coming.


My goodness, how does it feel to be a tree and to sleep without waking up in its eternal peace?

Who has experienced it? Who will know and understand?

It appeared that I would never forget it,

And it will always hurt.


Only imagine, the moments resilient in memory

Will subside and disappear, only give them time.

What has not killed us retreated, burnt out,

Melted and made us stronger.


Or do you recall it: little time to pack, you silently walk

Miles along the corridor, the street is asleep under the snow.

And you are carrying your grief through the evening city,

On the New Year’s Eve,


This is not forever, water will cut through the rock, and

Summer nights will shroud the sky, as it once had been.

It appeared that it would never be over,

It would never be gone.


Only imagine: the moments resilient in memory

Will subside and disappear, only give them time.

What has not killed us retreated, burnt out,

Melted and made us stronger.



Sunsets above the Neva River are stunning,

You can hear singing from the Palace Square – it is soldiers marching.

Be with the Tsar or be prosecuted.

This guy in a short coat is definitely a student,

With traces of tuberculosis on his face (used to be typical in this severe climate),

He flags a horse cab, gets in and talks to the cabbie:


“A terrorist will bomb the Tsar tomorrow,

And we will certainly see a beautiful sunrise of freedom

In the intoxicating fire that will erase the past.

This is the beginning of a new era!”

But the cabbie chuckles and says,

“Do you really believe that, sir? It will hardly make it better…”


And a cold symphony is playing

High in the sky overhead.


Next century has arrived, it is the 1940s,

We had our own tormentors (Stalin, GULAG, etc.), now the foreign ones are laying siege (Nazis),

This is a common fate, and there is no escape.

In the city, the political police are on a rampage,

In the sky, Nazi Parteigenossen (party members) bombers are buzzing:

No riddance of either of them.


Ann Frank’s Diaries are not yet known,

But our entire city is like her cellar (Ann Frank, a Jewish girl in the Netherlands, lived in a cellar for 2 years not to be killed by Nazis, but she was finally discovered),

The city’s name is now Hunger, a cemetery where people are trapped and dying (official food rationing was insufficient to sustain life – over the 3 years, almost everyone starved to death),

This is unprecedented:

No food, no heating in midwinter, only music from radios,

Look, there is some movement in the street of the dead – what’s going on?

Hold on! Listen!

It is the Leningrad Siege symphony playing (a symphony actually composed and played during the siege).


Some time has passed, and so we are here and now,

The century makes another round and outsmarts us, again:

Right from the time of the Gogol’s Nose (Nose was a novel by Gogol, also, Gogol had a notoriously long nose – the song was composed in year 2009, when the whole country celebrated Gogol’s anniversary)

I do not complain about this mist and drizzle,

The rain is sweet here, like leftovers from a birthday cake

And the frost has a flavor of a cake icing,


The wheel of history can go either way,

But each time I think about you it is like for first time –

On day one of this world,

The pinnacle of nobility and pride,

The city where I was not born,

You have defeated evil and decay, and I am singing your splendor.


And your choir of eternal symphony

Is signing along with me.


Back to Russia

You returned from a land far away, from the seventh heaven to the ground,

The plane did not fall from the sky, no terrorists attacked us – we are walking through the customs.

The brown Kremlin, blessed with inscriptions in Cyrillic, is frowning under the pouring rain,

Twenty meters per second – this is a welcome we get from the Moscow wind.


Time to observe Russian lives from the bus, to learn them anew,

To pity, love, cry and call with the eternal appeal of unfrozen returnees,

But you will never warm with breath the crowd shivering at the bus stop,

Pale babushkas1 blowing over their fingers but aiming for your heart.


Get used again to these faces, meager and scornful,

To the poison-red lipstick on women’s venomous lips,

And to the eternal smoke, as Turgenev wrote2 – from car pipes, factory stacks and cigarettes,

And unexpectedly rude strangers talking to you with no warning.


Try to copy stubs of words thrown at you,

Harvest insults from endless roads crying with salt3,

And learn to be indifferent to beggars and stray dogs,

Re-explore and re-master your Internal Golden Horde4.


This is our home land, of bluebonnet flowers on rye fields and bright-red ash berries on leafless trees against the white snow,

Turgenev is watching from his swamp how winter is chasing autumn5,

Take my memories, cover me with your snow and register me in your books,

Hello again, Russia – one sixth of my soul6.

1Babushka is a typically Russian elderly woman, often wearing a headscarf.

2Turgenev, a great Russian writer, wrote a novel called Smoke.

3 Roads are “sprinkled” with salt in winter to melt the ice in freezing temperatures. Good for driving, disastrous for tires and shoes.

4Golden Horde was a Mongol empire that conquered most of Russian territory in the 13th century, exterminating most of the population and establishing their rule for almost 300 years afterwards. Though hated by Russians, their barbaric lifestyles and despotic attitude to outsiders seemed to integrate into the Russian lifestyle for centuries afterwards.

5Turgenev adored hunting. His well-known short-stories cycle is called A Sportsman’s Sketches – he spent lots of time roaming swamps with his rifle and dogs, who loved chasing hares.

6An allusion to the fact that Russia covers 1/6 of the world’s land.