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Songs

Serenade

by Modest Mussorgsky From Songs and Dances of Death ('Pesni i pljaski smerti') (1875) 1875 (Nos. 1-3); 1877 (No. 4)

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Text & Translation

Serenade
Russian source: Arseny Golenischev-Kutuzov

Nega volshebnaja, noch' golubaja,
Trepetnyj sumrak vesny.
Vnemlet, poniknuv golovkoj, bol'naja
Shopot nochnoj tishiny.
Son ne smykajet blestjashchije ochi,
Zhizn' k naslazhden'ju zovjot,
A pod okoshkom v molchan'i polnochi
Smert' serenadu pojot:
,,V mrake nevoli surovoj i tesnoj
Molodost' vjanet tvoja;
Rycar' nevedomyj, siloj chudesnoj
Osvobozhu ja tebja.
Vstan', posmotri na sebja: krasotoju
Lik tvoj prozrachnyj blestit,
Shchjoki rumjany, volnistoj kosoju
Stan tvoj, kak tuchej obvit.
Pristal'nykh glaz goluboje sijan'e,
Jarche nebes i ognja;
Znojem poludennym vejet dykhan'e...
Ty obol'stila menja.
Slukh tvoj plenilsja mojej serenadoj,
Rycarja shopot tvoj zval,
Rycar' prishjol za poslednej nagradoj:
Chas upojen'ja nastal.
Nezhen tvoj stan, upoitelen trepet...
O, zadushu ja tebja
V krepkikh ob"jat'jakh: ljubovnyj moj lepet
Slushaj!... molchi!... Ty moja!’’

Languid enchantment, the blue of the night
English translation © Philip Ross Bullock

Languid enchantment, the blue of the night,
The quivering half-light of spring.
Ailing, her head hung low, the young woman
Listens to the whisper of night’s stillness.
Sleep cannot close her shining eyes,
Life’s pleasures summon her still,
But under her window, in the silence of midnight,
Death sings this soft serenade:
‘In the gloom of confinement, severe and narrow,
Your youth is fading;
But I, a mysterious knight,
Will free you with my wondrous power.
Rise and look on yourself: your countenance
Shines with limpid beauty,
Your cheeks are flushed, and your rippling tresses
Encircle your waist like clouds.
The radiant blue of your eager eyes
Is brighter than heaven or flame;
Your breath is as the midday heat…
You have bewitched me.
Your hearing is captivated by my serenade,
Your whispering summoned this knight,
Who has come for his final reward:
The hour of rapture is nigh.
Your form is fair and your trembling – enchanting…
Ah, I shall smother you in my strong embrace:
Listen to my words of love!
Be silent!.... You are mine!’

Serenade
Russian source: Arseny Golenischev-Kutuzov

Languid enchantment, the blue of the night
English source: Philip Ross Bullock

Nega volshebnaja, noch' golubaja,
Languid enchantment, the blue of the night,
Trepetnyj sumrak vesny.
The quivering half-light of spring.
Vnemlet, poniknuv golovkoj, bol'naja
Ailing, her head hung low, the young woman
Shopot nochnoj tishiny.
Listens to the whisper of night’s stillness.
Son ne smykajet blestjashchije ochi,
Sleep cannot close her shining eyes,
Zhizn' k naslazhden'ju zovjot,
Life’s pleasures summon her still,
A pod okoshkom v molchan'i polnochi
But under her window, in the silence of midnight,
Smert' serenadu pojot:
Death sings this soft serenade:
,,V mrake nevoli surovoj i tesnoj
‘In the gloom of confinement, severe and narrow,
Molodost' vjanet tvoja;
Your youth is fading;
Rycar' nevedomyj, siloj chudesnoj
But I, a mysterious knight,
Osvobozhu ja tebja.
Will free you with my wondrous power.
Vstan', posmotri na sebja: krasotoju
Rise and look on yourself: your countenance
Lik tvoj prozrachnyj blestit,
Shines with limpid beauty,
Shchjoki rumjany, volnistoj kosoju
Your cheeks are flushed, and your rippling tresses
Stan tvoj, kak tuchej obvit.
Encircle your waist like clouds.
Pristal'nykh glaz goluboje sijan'e,
The radiant blue of your eager eyes
Jarche nebes i ognja;
Is brighter than heaven or flame;
Znojem poludennym vejet dykhan'e...
Your breath is as the midday heat…
Ty obol'stila menja.
You have bewitched me.
Slukh tvoj plenilsja mojej serenadoj,
Your hearing is captivated by my serenade,
Rycarja shopot tvoj zval,
Your whispering summoned this knight,
Rycar' prishjol za poslednej nagradoj:
Who has come for his final reward:
Chas upojen'ja nastal.
The hour of rapture is nigh.
Nezhen tvoj stan, upoitelen trepet...
Your form is fair and your trembling – enchanting…
O, zadushu ja tebja
Ah, I shall smother you in my strong embrace:
V krepkikh ob"jat'jakh: ljubovnyj moj lepet
Listen to my words of love!
Slushaj!... molchi!... Ty moja!’’
Be silent!.... You are mine!’

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…

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