Marta Kubišová: Balada o kornetovi a dívce (Supraphon, 1969)

6 May

A rough version of the lyric to Marta Kubišová’s Balada o kornetovi a dívce as featured on her 1969 album Songy a Balady (Supraphon). The Czech text is available to read here, and the song can be listened to here.

Balada o kornetovi a dívce (The Ballad of the Girl and the Cornet)

(after Bohuslav Ondracek/Zdenek Rytir , 1969)

The torchlight shadows flicker on stone floors,
the clouds over the castle sail quietly away.
The girls cry, and young men hang their heads –
the war is only a few hours of this night from here.

As light dawns and torches die, one climbs from bed
and vows to his girl that he will soon return.
He cannot wake her, tired as she is, so lets her stay –
he couldn’t promise to live if she saw his face.

He lets his words touch her in darkness and sleep,
imagines, when the sun at last climbs free
of the horizon’s sheets, the cornet’s sound, a call
to wake her, though he’ll be far away.

But for now, he lingers with her golden hair
spread on its pillow till morning finds her face.
Here she is, sleeping, her breath and heart,
her soft palms at play against that lovely skin.

Why keep breathing? Let the warmth hold her body
till the cornet wakes her with its cold blast at dawn.
In that early chill there will be time enough
for her eyes to seek him and her tears to flow.

We leave her, as he did, beautiful as she barely stirs,
light-headed, in love, in the embrace of sleep.
It is dawn. Her deserter stands with his back to a grave.
The cornet sounds and commands guns to fire.


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