Czeslaw Niemen: Kwiaty Ojczyste (Muza, 1970)

14 Apr

Czeslaw Niemen’s Enigmatic (1970) was a recording whose songs were all settings of poems by Polish authors, two of which – Cyprian Norwid’s Bema pamięci żałobny-rapsod (Funeral Rhapsody in Memory of General Bem) and Adam Asnyk’s Jednego Serca (One Heart) have already featured here, along with some background on the recordings and Czeslaw Niemen himself. This further song is Niemen’s setting of Tadeusz Kubiak’s Kwiaty Ojczyste (Native Flowers), a poem that reads as follows on the sleeve of the original Polish LP release:

Kwiaty nad Wisłą mazowieckie
Stokrotki, fiołki i kaczeńce
Zielone wierchy nad Warszawą
Kwieciste nad domami wieńce.
Kwiaty znad Odry, gąszcze, róże,
Stukolorowe pióra pawie
W parkach Szczecina i Opola
W małych ogródkach pod Wrocławiem…

Kaliny, malwy białostockie,
Lubelskie bujne winogrady,
Dziewanny złote pod Zamościem
I w Kazimierzu białe sady.
Kwiaty nad Wisłą, Narwią, Bugiem,
Zbierane w słońcu, przy księżycu
Kocham was kwiaty mej ojczyzny
Nad Odrą, Wartą i Pilicą…

Mostly the version that follows has tried to remain true to this, with the proviso that some details have been added here and there to elucidate some of the place names and locations that may not be immediately recognised by non-Polish readers as, for example, rivers, or towns in particular regions. This has formally altered the poem by in effect, adding an extra line to it, but hopefully it otherwise remains reasonably close to its source both formally and in meaning. The song can be heard here, accompanied by film of Niemen in performance with the vocal group Alibabki, and a stellar line-up of Polish jazz musicians that includes Zbigniew Namysłowski, Czesław Bartkowski and Michał Urbaniak.

Kwiaty Ojczyste (Native Flowers)

(after Czeslaw Niemen/Tadeusz Kubiak, 1970)

There are flowers on the Masovian Vistula,
white daisies, blue violets and marigolds.
Flowers crown the green peaks over Warsaw,
lay floral wreaths on all the houses’ roofs.
There are roses, flowers from the thickets of Odra,
like hundred-coloured peacock feathers
in all the parks of Szczecin and Opole,
in all the small gardens tended near Wrocław.

Mallows strike root in Kalina and Bialystok,
grow in Lublin’s lush vineyards and wineries.
Golden clementines flower in Zamosc,
the orchards of Kazimierz turn white with blossom.
There are flowers on the banks of the Vistula,
flowers by the waters of the Narew and Bug,
flowers I love, gathered under the sun and moon,
bright in the shadow of Pilica’s castle wall,
flowers where the Oder and Warta rivers flow.

Czeslaw Niemen Enigmatic (1970)


4 Responses to “Czeslaw Niemen: Kwiaty Ojczyste (Muza, 1970)”

  1. Darek Dudziński/Przyzwoitość April 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    ‘scuse me, but the original title says “Kwiaty ojczyste” (meaning “Native Flowers”) rather than “…ojczyzny” (“Flowers of the Homeland”). that’s one. two, I’m SO impressed with the translation, sir. and three, which I wanted to comment re the Czerwone Gitary song from previous post, is that Polish rock music only began to have decent lyrics of its own as late as 1980, with the band Maanam. The words for “Nie zadzieraj nosa” are a perfect demonstration of the reason why I abhor our (i e Polish) rock music from the 1960s. Jeez, at the same time we had jazz great Krzysztof Komeda, chanteuse brilliante Ewa Demarczyk, cutting edge avant-garde composer Krzysztof Penderecki, and everybodys favourites Czerwone Gitary singing about a teddy bear who wouldn’t go to the woods.

  2. wayneburrows April 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Cheers for the info on the title: there seemed to be alternates with ‘Homeland’, ‘Native’, etc when I was putting it together, but will make the adjustment (done this now – hopefully correctly!). And, yes, there are probably less really strong lyrics in Polish songs in this earlier period than (say) in Czech, but there were some things, notably Bogdan Chorazuk’s things with Tadeusz Wozniak or Marek Grechuta’s material (though I guess they might been seen as more on a folk or song poem tangent, rather than rock). The odd thing, anyway…and will have to look up Maanam, I don’t know their stuff. Sound interesting.

  3. Marcin May 8, 2017 at 7:40 pm #

    Hi! If I may ask, are the translations on this blog yours? Do you know Czech, Polish and Hungarian?

    • wayneburrows May 9, 2017 at 1:31 am #

      They are my versions based on the original song lyrics, with one or two exceptions where someone fluent has ‘guest translated’ something and is credited in the introduction to their text, but usually they are put together by me without knowledge of the languages – working from translation software, research and dictionaries, helpful collaborators (who often point out errors on the versions posted here or provide glosses) and so on. It’s all a bit of an improvised mish-mash, really, but I hope these versions more or less work to give some flavour of what the songs are doing, even if it’s a bit approximate at times.

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