Hana Zagorová: Rokle (Supraphon, 1969)

5 May

Released as the b-side to pop performer Hana Zagorová’s Bludicka Julie, a mainstream, almost novelty-style song, Rokle is an unusual entry in a discography that tends in general towards a kind of upbeat Eurovision style. In some ways, Zagorová is roughly equivalent to a figure like Lulu in the UK – and like her, occasionally throws a curveball into her repertoire. It’s hard not to read the lyric of Rokle as an oblique response to the 1968 invasion, as its protagonists walk into the shadows, and a refrain notes that while there seems to be whispering in the twilight, foreign words are gone. The song can be heard here, and the Czech lyric is available here.

Rokle (Ravine)

(after V. Zahradnik/M.Prostejovsky, 1969)

I will answer only to you, passing into the twilight shadows.
Dark steps lead us down, like pilgrims, not knowing which way to go.

So just come closer. I think you are at home in these shadows,
know these dark steps, this moment, how and where to continue.

When the day wakes, at last, and the night’s wind sleeps,
I hear quiet breezes passing words among the shadows and stones.

We walk together, down the ravine, will go further, perhaps,
than we’ve walked before. There in the shadows, we might disappear.

There in the shadows, as shades of rock and wall close around us,
all foreign words are gone. Come closer to me, lead me down.

Come on, come only closer. You know which way to go,
know how our steps must echo in these twilight shadows.

Follow us, like pilgrims, wayfarers, going all the way down,
not knowing, quite, how and where we go, but going on…

When the day wakes up, and the night’s winds sleep,
the shadows gather quiet words and sounds. Stay with me. Listen.

We will walk together, down the ravine’s steep slopes,
go further, perhaps, than we’ve ever walked before.

There in the twilight we might disappear, vanish in shadow,
stay close and quiet. There is shade, an echo. Foreign words are gone.

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