Songs of the War

The news about Ukraine’s war has not been my main focus. Nor have I done any analysis. However, I’ve been blogging about songs that are related to this war. These songs include songs written within the past month, but some also from 2014 (Crimea/Donbass), as well as performances of old songs. It’s not that songs are less important than economic, political or military analysis. I just thought this was one way I could help.

People who know me well know that I am not an artistic person or someone who is passionate about the arts. Poetry, particularly in songwriting, is what has spoken to my heart. I feel that poetry might help one get a better sense of other people’s emotions than prose. (Of course, prose has the same property with respect to poetry, and on most subjects to a much larger degree ….) For a non-war related example, Sons of Martha conveys a lot about the soul of infrastructure engineers than a description, an interview, or even a novel.

A problem with rhymed and measured poetry is its rhymes and meters. Translations are not able to reproduce these elements effectively, unless they are done well by a skilled translator such as James Falen. Worse than that: The words in a translated poem will often come across not just as less effective but as outright inapt, precisely because what made the poet choose them for the original—their sound—is lost in translation. Although I don’t speak Ukrainian, I understand the basic concepts and can read the translation, which should be in Russian, so I believe I can appreciate the poem as an actual poem. This is not something I expect my English readers will experience.

Anyway, they’re still appreciated by some. And if you happen to be a talented translator, we would all love your translations. If you know of Russian-speaking friends or acquaintances who would enjoy the originals, please pass these along.

You will notice that many translations are adapted from translations found online. I give credit to the translators where appropriate. However, I verify them with my sense of the words and modify where necessary.

All items, current and future, can be found under the Ukraine War-Music tag. This is my collection so far. I recommend the one at the bottom to Russian speakers. Is the letter from his brother going to his brother? / Or his widow?”):