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Songs

Pesnya Mefistofelya o blokhe, 'The Song of the Flea'

by Modest Mussorgsky

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Text & Translation

Pesnya Mefistofelya o blokhe, 'The Song of the Flea'
Russian source: A. Strugusgchikov

Zhil-byl korol’ kogda-to,
Pri nyom blokha zhila, Blokha…blokha!
Miley rodnogo brata ona yemu byla;
Blokha …ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Blokha?
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! …Blokha!
Zovyot korol’ portnogo: “Poslushay ty, churban!
Dlya druga dorogogo …Shey!
Barkhatny kaftan!”
Blokhe kaftan? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Blokhe?
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Kaftan?
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Blokhe kaftan?

Vot v zoloto i barkhat blokha naryazhena,
I polnaya svoboda yey pri dvore dana, Ha, ha!
Ha, ha, ha ,ha, ha! Blokhe! Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Blokhe!
Korol’ yey san ministra
I s nim zvezdu dayot,
Za neyu i drugiye poshli vse blokhi v khod. Ha, ha!
I samoy koroleve, i freylinam yeyo,
Ot blokh ne stalo mochi
Ne stalo i zhit’ya, Ha, ha!
I tronut-to boyatsa, ne to shtoby ikh bit’.
A my, kto stal kusat’sa, totchas davay dushit’!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! ………

Adapted from Goethe's Faust

Once upon a time there lived a king.
English translation © Philip Ross Bullock

Once upon a time there lived a king.
The king he kept a flea.
A flea! A flea!
This flea was dearer to him
Than his own brother.
A flea! Hee-hee, hee-hee. A flea?
Hee-hee, hee-hee. A flea!

The king did summon his tailor.
‘Listen here, you blockhead,
Sew a velvet kaftan
For my dear friend!’
A kaftan for a flea? Hee-hee, hee-hee.
For a flea? Hee-hee, hee-hee. A kaftan?
Hee-hee, hee-hee. Hee-hee, hee-hee.
A kaftan for a flea?

‘I want my flea to be cosy and warm,
And to enjoy total freedom at court.’
At court? Hee-hee. A flea? Hee-hee.
Hee-hee, hee-hee. A flea!

The king made it a minister and gave it a medal,
And all the other fleas joined in too.
And the queen and all her ladies-in-waiting
Were sore vexed by them and suffered grievously.


And they were afraid to touch them, let alone hit them,
But we will squash them as soon as they start to bite!
Hee-hee, hee-hee,
Hee-hee, hee-hee,
Hee-hee, hee-hee, hee-hee.

Pesnya Mefistofelya o blokhe, 'The Song of the Flea'
Russian source: A. Strugusgchikov

Once upon a time there lived a king.
English source: Philip Ross Bullock

Zhil-byl korol’ kogda-to,
Once upon a time there lived a king.
Pri nyom blokha zhila, Blokha…blokha!
The king he kept a flea.
Miley rodnogo brata ona yemu byla;
A flea! A flea!
Blokha …ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Blokha?
This flea was dearer to him
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! …Blokha!
Than his own brother.
Zovyot korol’ portnogo: “Poslushay ty, churban!
A flea! Hee-hee, hee-hee. A flea?
Dlya druga dorogogo …Shey!
Hee-hee, hee-hee. A flea!
Barkhatny kaftan!”
Blokhe kaftan? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Blokhe?
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Kaftan?
Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Blokhe kaftan?

Vot v zoloto i barkhat blokha naryazhena,
The king did summon his tailor.
I polnaya svoboda yey pri dvore dana, Ha, ha!
‘Listen here, you blockhead,
Ha, ha, ha ,ha, ha! Blokhe! Ha, ha, ha, ha!
Sew a velvet kaftan
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Blokhe!
For my dear friend!’
Korol’ yey san ministra
A kaftan for a flea? Hee-hee, hee-hee.
I s nim zvezdu dayot,
For a flea? Hee-hee, hee-hee. A kaftan?
Za neyu i drugiye poshli vse blokhi v khod. Ha, ha!
Hee-hee, hee-hee. Hee-hee, hee-hee.
I samoy koroleve, i freylinam yeyo,
A kaftan for a flea?
Ot blokh ne stalo mochi
Ne stalo i zhit’ya, Ha, ha!
I tronut-to boyatsa, ne to shtoby ikh bit’.
A my, kto stal kusat’sa, totchas davay dushit’!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! ………

Composer

Modest Mussorgsky

Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (21 March 1839 – 28 March 1881) was a Russian composer. He was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period. He strove to achieve a uniquely Russian musical identity, often in deliberate defiance of the…

Performances

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