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Old 06-05-2018, 06:23 PM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Default Gustapo March (Pochod Gustapa by Karel Kryl)

Gustapo March

No brain, obedience,
........and faith instead of reason,
the proper allegiance fit for every season,
we renounced our mother
........and brother renounced father,
shooting you’s no bother,
........we’ll break the legs of others.
Devils said go— sheep we followed orders.
We knew it’s so:
........the beasts had once been hunters.
Our goal was bright,
........with our slogans and placards
we cried “We’re right!
........Oppose us? Then you’re slackers!”
Choose blindness, not vision,
........stuff your own ears with cotton,
you make the decision call your children rotten
and when they might be caught say you didn’t raise them
and if they must be shot?
........Posthumously you’ll praise them!
Devils say go—
........again you follow orders.
All of you know
........the beasts had once been hunters.........
Friendship is gone,
........and faith instead of reason,
on! Always on! On! Always on! On! Always on!
........Into the stinking brimstone!



Gustapo March*

Above the brain, obedience
........and above reason, faith
and the correct membership more than a hole in your shoe [can overcome an obstacle?],
we denied our Mom
........and brother denied Dad,
some are [casually] shot
........and others, we break their legs,
the Devil chased us
........and we went like sheep,
each of us knew
........that the hunter will become the game/beast
each of us still went
........and for cleverness had a stamp [were sure we knew it all]
our goal gleamed,
........and if you are against? Then you’re a bum!

Above eyes, blindness, stuff your own ears with cotton,
you become a despot
........and give your son to the hangman,
to your good friend
........again you turn your back,
and if they shoot him?’ll give him posthumous honors!
The devil chases you,
........again you go like sheep,
it’s not a joke,
........the hunter has become the game/beast
a friend is an orc/goblin/demon
........and above reason, faith,
forward! Only forward! Forward! Only Forward! Forward! Only Forward!
........And ahead is the stink of sulfur!


Pochod Gustapa

Nad mozkem poslušnost
........a nad rozumem víra
a správná příslušnost víc, než v botě díra,
mámu jsme zapřeli
........a brácha zapřel tátu,
někdo se odstřelí
........a jiným zlámem hnátu,
Ďábel nás hnal
........a šli jsme jako ovce,
každý z nás znal,
........že zvěř se stane z lovce,
každý však šel
........a na chytrost měl štempl,
náš cíl se skvěl,
........jsi proti? Pak jsi lempl!

Nad oči slepota,
........sám do uší dáš vatu,
je z tebe despota
........a syna dáváš katu,
k dobrému příteli
........zas obracíš se zády,
a když ho odstřelí?
........Po smrti dáš mu řády!
Žene vás čert,
........zas jdete jako ovce,
není to žert,
........už zvěř se stala z lovce,
přítel je skřet
........a nad rozumem víra,
vpřed! Jenom vpřed! Vpřed! Jenom vpřed! Vpřed! Jenom vpřed!
........A vpředu smrdí síra ..

*The title is a play on the name Gustav Husák, who (as the Secretary of the Communist Party from 1969-1987 installed by the Soviets) was responsible for the carrying out the suppression of human rights and individual freedom after the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968 ended the Prague Spring—this was euphemistically called “Normalization”. My understanding of the song is that the first verse refers to the Stalinist era of the 1950's, and the second sees the return of much the same in the aftermath of the invasion; that is why the first verse is in the past and the second is in the present.

This is another of my translations of the Czech protest songwriter Karel Kryl; for those who haven't seem some of the other songs that I have posted here, I offer a brief blurb about him:

Karel Kryl was a great protest songwriter/singer/poet active from about 1966 until his death in 1994. He became famous after the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968. His song "Bratříčku, zavírej vrátka” (Little brother, lock the gate) became a sort of anthem for those who opposed the invasion, and though after he went into exile in West Germany, his work was banned in Czechoslovakia, when he returned in 1989 after the Velvet Revolution, the audiences at his overflowing concerts that he gave, many of them young people who grew up after the invasion, all knew the lyrics to his songs and sang along. A brief account can be found here on wikipedia.
His songs are readily available on YouTube. He is unknown in the English speaking world. I have translated 24 of his songs, matching my lyrics to his melodies and trying to preserve his vivid images and sonorous rhymes.

As a footnote, let me note a few years ago, at a concert in Prague, Joan Baez sang his most famous song in very broken Czech, and admitted that her language skills were not up to the task.
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Old 06-05-2018, 07:19 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Hello, Martin, this is very rich. I will take your word that your translation matches the melody of the song. That's a tough task for a translator.

I think "and brother renounced father" would be smoother as "and brother swore off father"

I don't see the segue (if there is one) between these two couplets:

Choose blindness, not vision,
........stuff your own ears with cotton,
you make the decision call your children rotten

. . . . .

I would be great if you could add a verb to the final sentence:

........and faith instead of reason
(goes) on! Always on! On! Always on! On! Always on!
........Into. . . .

. . . . .

This was a lot of fun.

Thank you,

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Old 06-11-2018, 09:52 AM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Posts: 4,113

thank you for your helpful comments. I agree that "swore off" is better metrically than "renounced", but the sense is too mild, and it loses the repetition from the previous line. I will give it more thought.

"On! Always on!" is meant in the imperative, as an order; the grammar is a bit odd in the original. Perhaps I could punctuate it differently. In the original, there is no sentence break from "Devils say go" until the end. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I'll give it more thought.

Thank you again!
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Old 06-27-2018, 11:09 AM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Please forgive for bumping this, but I would dearly love some comments. Even thought the song was written in 1969 as a warning about coming Communist oppression after the Warsaw pact invasion of 1968 and the return to the Czechoslovak version of Stalinism of the 1950's, it seems completely relevant today--see, for example, this perceptive article.

Any comments much appreciated!
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Old 06-28-2018, 09:26 AM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
Posts: 2,429

A quick thought Martin,

we renounced our mother brother did our father,
shooting you we'd rather
........than laming every other.

My first foray here I will have to give it a try sometime.

I really like this song.


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Old 06-29-2018, 10:29 AM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi Jan,
thank you so much for reading and for your helpful comments. When you and Aaron agree that this is a spot that needs reworking, I need to work.

Kryl translated the song into Polish, and added an extra verse in honor of the student strikes--you might enjoy this version:
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Old 07-01-2018, 01:19 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Aaron and Jan (and anyone else who cares to comment!)
Here are a couple ideas for the section that needs work:

The tenses in the first verse get bit confused; the whole should be in the past, so in the current version, more lines need to be direct speech:

we renounced our mother
........and brother renounced father,
"Shooting you’s no bother!
........We’ll break the legs of others!"

One more thought--"hnaty" literally does mean leg bones, but it is used more generally--would it be better to replace "legs" with "bones"?

is that any better?

Another idea that I had was to go back to the original and use "mom" instead of mother:

We renounced our moms and
........brothers renounced their fathers,
We shot some out of hand
........and broke the legs of others.

However, I am afraid that this is hard to match to the music.

Any comments would be much welcome!
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:55 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Posts: 5,357

Sorry this has taken me so long, Martin. Here are some thoughts on the first verse, and on the ending:

I find it helpful to think of this as iambic trimeter in the beginning, with alternating masculine and feminine endings:

u - / u - / u -
u - / u - / u - (u)
u - / u - / u -
u - / u - / u - (u)

Halfway through each verse, the odd-numbered lines get shortened to dimeter, though:

u - / u -
u - / u - / u - (u)
u - / u -
u - / u - / u - (u)

Since it's a march, I think maintaining the thump of that meter, with as few substitutions as possible, is a good idea.

Although your initial "No brain, obedience" line parallels the syntactical structure of the original, I think that if I only heard it sung, and thus were not able to see the punctuation, I would probably construe that as "No brain-obedience," which seems like the opposite sentiment. Maybe introducing verbs to that series of nouns would help:

Obey, don't think things through.
........Use faith instead of reason.

I also think it's important the shoe into that first quatrain somehow:

To mend your worn-out shoe,
........put member cards like these in.

The word "renounce" seems a bit too formal in English. Perhaps a more casual expression?

We ratted out our Mom,
........and Brother ratted Dad out.
We break the legs of some, others, we shoot lead out.

Yeah, I know that those are very imperfect rhymes, but maybe this will spark better ideas than mine.

Changing the order of lines, as I did with the leg-breaking bit above, might open new possibilities elsewhere, too:

We went like sheep,
........the Devil was pursuin'.
We knew, down deep,
........we ran not from, but to 'im.
Yet on we went,
........self-certified for learnin'.
We scorned dissent.
........Our goal was brightly burnin'.

Near the end of the song, I wonder if all the tongue-twisting repetitions of "On! Always on!" in the penultimate line would work better in English as military orders: "March! Forward march!"

Again, I hope this is useful, even if it only helps to make you certain of what you don't want to do. (I really do consider that to be useful; I'm aware that many people do not.)
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Old 07-12-2018, 01:49 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi Julie,
thank you so much for your careful analysis--it will take me a bit of time to digest, but it will help me a lot. One quick point--the original is certainly not iambic. The beginning can be thought of as such, but any word longer than 3 letters begins with a strong stress--e.g.,
mámu jsme zapřeli (l5)
někdo se odstřelí (l7)
Ďábel nás hnal (l9)
etc., all begin with strong stresses. (The first word, "Nad", is a bit stressed, but since it is followed by a strong stress, I guess it is compatible with iambic meter). If you listen, even though it is hard to follow without understanding the words, I think you can hear which lines begin with a stress.

Again, thank you so much!

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Old 07-12-2018, 04:21 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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But Kryl is often putting those "strong-stress" syllables on an upbeat, which makes the downbeat fall on the next syllable. Maybe that's a lot easier to get away with in Czech than in English. In English, it sounds weird when downbeats and stresses don't align.

For example, the English word "DE-vil" sounds weird with the stressed syllable on an upbeat and the unstressed syllable on a downbeat, thus forcing it to be pronounced "de-VIL". Same with "re-NOUNCED" vs. "RE-nounced."

Maybe you intend for certain syllables of your translation to be combined or stretched out in a way that's different from the way I'm doing it. The attached PDF shows how I'm hearing the first verse, and how I'm hearing your English translation match up to it. Let me know what changes you want to be made. For example, do you intend "obedience" and "allegience" to be stretched out into four syllables, or three plus a rest? What do you intend to happen, downbeat-wise, with the mother/brother/father section? And do you intend "with OUR slo-GANS and PLA-cards," as I've notated it, or "with/our SLO-o-GANS and PLA-cards" ("with/our" being crammed into two sixteenth notes, and "slo-" stretched out over two notes)? If you prefer the latter, maybe "with/our SLO-gans AND our PLA-cards" would feel more natural.

I've marked the four beats in each measure with " - ", although that mark isn't really supposed to be put on rests, so it's hard to see those. I've kept the eighth note as the basic unit, even when two syllables are assigned to it; in those cases, I've separated the syllables with a forward slash.

CAVEAT--the following PDF contains several errors of pitch, timing, and syllable division that I won't be able to fix until tomorrow, as I won't have access to a piano until then. I am partway through a draft containing verse 2, but I don't want to post that until it's more accurate.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Martin--Pochod Gustapa - Score.pdf (53.6 KB, 6 views)

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 07-12-2018 at 08:53 PM.
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