Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Honeybee flies home

As we lead up to February 24th, Estonia's national day, I find myself thinking of last years song festival, and one of the more beautiful songs in the incredible choral tradition of Estonia is a setting of a poem by Juhan Liiv, as follows:

Ta lendab lillest lillesse,
ja lendab mesipuu poole;
ja tõuseb kõuepilv ülesse -
ta lendab mesipuu poole.

Ja langevad teele tuhanded;
veel koju jõuavad tuhanded
ja viivad vaeva ja hoole
ja lendavad mesipuu poole!

Nii hing, oh hing, sa raskel a'al -
kuis õhkad sa isamaa poole;
kas kodu sa, kas võõral maal -
kuis ihkad sa isamaa poole!

I have tried to translate it:

She flies from flower to flower
and returning flies to the honeycomb
and as thunder clouds increase above
She returning flies to the honeycomb.

Though thousands fall on the road
still thousands may return home.
and forget their pain and worries
and they fly returning to the honeycomb.

So soul, oh soul, in hard times
as you sigh for your homeland
then you are home- even in a foreign land
as you yearn for your homeland

The performance last year was electric, and very beautiful, as you can hear and see here

30,000 people singing is a truly stirring sight


Newmania said...

Yes the people of Croydon which is about the same size have a similarly emotional song with which they describe the deep feelings of loyalty that beauteous land of Southern Fried chicken , sports wear and Binge drinking . I have tried to translate but I cannot do justice to the original dialect which is perhaps fortunately unintelligible to the modern Croydonian .

The wild pony he galloped in the wind
So wild and free/wilful mastering and mastered in his joy/spiritual contentment
Then he fell into a smelly ditch
His legs were broken
For a while he struggled
Finally the stinking and stagnant waters came to seem just as good
As the gallops he dreamt/imagined still
As the death was long one
He convinced finally himself it was great place
Even relishing his own faeces
Happy pony
We salute you
Oh Croydon
You are my ditch

I tell you C the sound of 30,000 people belting that out would bring a tear to your eye . Does me

Cicero said...

After the invasion of Estonia (on the same day as Dunkirk fell) Stalin ordered all the leaders of Estonia to be shot or exiled, mostly to Siberia. In the end nearly a third of the 1939 population were shot or exiled or fled.

The population loss so horrified even the Communists that no official census was published for thirty years. When it was the population was the same number- 1.3 million- however instead of 90% Estonians, there were only 60%.

For fifty years even wearing the blue black white colours would get you ten years in the Gulag.

Almost everyone your see in the film- 30,000 in the choir and 100,000 in the crowd had someone in their immediate family who went to the camps- some indeed were sent themselves.

Singing for freedom means a bit more when you know what it means to lose it.

So frankly I think your little joke is really rather crass.

Newmania said...

Tough crowd in tonight..yeeesh

Cicero said...

I may seem a bit po-faced, but it's just not funny to make a joke about what the victims of Stalin underwent.
It may not be a great translation, but you probably wouldn't make jokes about the holocaust. The only difference between National Socialism and Soviet Socialism was that Stalin killed more people, more brutally for a lot longer.
Russia, unlike Germany, does not even acknowledge the crimes committed by its predecessor state, still less does it seek to make amends for them.
And that really is NOT funny.